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Title: In search of the function of the Dutch partitive genitive: a corpus analysis
Authors: Pijpops, Dirk ×
Van de Velde, Freek #
Issue Date: 22-May-2014
Conference: Germanic Genitives location:Berlin date:22-24 May 2014
Abstract: Perhaps the most puzzling of the Dutch vestigial genitives is the partitive genitive with indefinite pronouns and numerals, as in (1) and (3). What is most noteworthy is its stubborn resilience in the face of deflexion, even though other partitive genitives have long given way to alternative s-less constructions, such as close appositions, and even though such an alternative is occasionally attested for the partitive genitive at issue as well, as shown in (2) and (4) (Van der Horst 2008: 1624-1625). This has led numerous researchers to assume a new, grammatical function for this –s suffix, yielding a vivid – if mostly theoretical – discussion (Abney 1987, Broekhuis & Strang 1996, Kester 1996, Van Marle 1996, Hoeksema 1998, Booij 2010: 223-228, Broekhuis 2013). On the basis of a more systematic analysis of corpus data, we call into question the purely grammatical nature of this suffix.

(1) iets leuk-s
something fun-GEN
‘something fun’

(2) iets leuk
something fun
‘something fun’

(3) veel interessant-s
much interesting-GEN
‘a lot of interesting things’

(4) veel interessant
much interesting
‘a lot of interesting things’

We try to uncover the function of the –s suffix by looking for contexts in which the presence or absence of the genitive –s can be predicted. More concretely, we use logistic regression to unearth the variables which determine the alternation between the variants with and without –s suffix. We assess both (socio/region)lectal variables and grammatical variables, such as regional variety, register, the type of quantifier and adjective, the length of the adjective, etc., as well as possible interaction effects. We also include a random factor Phrase, to take into account the different phrases (measured in types) in our dataset. The results of our analysis strongly suggest that the function of the -s suffix is multifactorial in nature, and cannot reside solely in the grammar. Our fine-grained analysis allows us to give more precise underpinnings for the assumed regional split in the function of the –s suffix than the extant literature is able to provide. Contrary to what is often claimed, the s-less variant occurs in both regions, but in the North, –s omission can be largely brought back to a number of well-delimited special cases, in which the influence of ‘adjacent’ constructions plays a role (i.e. superficially resembling, but etymologically unrelated constructions). In the South however, the s-less variant does not seem to be limited to any specific grammatical context. Instead, the –s appears to demarcate the boundary between informal and formal language use.

References:
Abney, S.P. 1987. The English noun phrase in its sentential aspect. Cambridge: MIT, Department of linguistics and philosophy. Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Booij, G. 2010. Construction Morphology. Oxford: Oxford university press. Broekhuis, H. 2013. Adjectives and Adjective Phrases. In H. Broekhuis (ed.), Syntax of Dutch, 419­–461. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University press. Broekhuis, H. & A. Strang. 1996. De partitieve genitiefconstructie. Nederlandse taalkunde 1(3). 221–238. Geeraerts, D. 2005. Lectal variation and empirical data in cognitive linguistics. In F.J. Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez & M.S. Peña Cervel (eds.), Cognitive linguistics. Internal dynamics and interdisciplinary interaction, 163–190. Berlin: de Gruyter. Hoeksema, J. 1998. Adjectivale inflectie op -s: geen geval van transpositie. In E. Hoekstra & C. Smits (eds.), Morfologiedagen 1996, 46–72. Amsterdam: P. J. Meertens-Instituut. Kester, E-P. 1996. The Nature of Adjectival Inflection. Dissertation University of Utrecht. Van der Horst, J.M. 2008. Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse syntaxis. Leuven: Universitaire Pers Leuven. Van Marle, J. 1996. The unity of Morphology: on the interwoveness of the derivational and inflectional dimension of the word. In G. E. Booij & J. Van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of Morphology 1995, 67–82. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics (QLVL), Leuven
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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