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8.2.Modification in the clausal domain: clause and VP adverbs

This section discusses adverbially used adjectives in the clausal domain. There are at least two cases that can be distinguished on semantic grounds: adverbial phrases that modify the complete clause, and adverbial phrases that modify the verb phrase only. The following subsections will show how these two cases can be distinguished by means of paraphrasing.

[+]  I.  Clausal adverbs

Adverbial phrases that modify the full clause can be used in the syntactic frame: Het is adverb zo dat clause, as in (11).

Example 11
Clausal adverb
[clause ... Adverb ...] ⇒ het is ADVERB zo dat CLAUSE
                                      it is the.case that

This is illustrated in example (12) for the modal adverb waarschijnlijk'probably'. Note that the examples in (13) show that this test is also applicable to discourse particles like toch.

Example 12
Clausal adverb
a. Jan gaat waarschijnlijk naar Groningen.
  Jan goes  probably  to Groningen
  'Probably, Jan is going to Groningen.'
b. Het is waarschijnlijk zo dat Jan naar Groningen gaat.
  it is probably  the.case  that  Jan to Groningen  goes
  'Itʼs probably the case that Jan will go to Groningen.'
Example 13
a. Jan komt toch morgen?
  Jan comes  prt  tomorrow
  'Jan is coming tomorrow, isnʼt he?'
b. Het is toch zo dat Jan morgen komt?

      Example (12b) is also acceptable without the element zo, but this does not mean that this element is optional in the paraphrase. Example (14a) shows that the clausal adverb waarschijnlijk can neither undergo comparative formation nor be prefixed with the negative element on-. The same facts are found in the paraphrase in (14b), but not in (14c), in which zo is omitted.

Example 14
a. * Jan is waarschijnlijker/onwaarschijnlijk ziek.
  Jan is more.probably/not.probably  ill
b. * Het is waarschijnlijker/onwaarschijnlijk zo dat Jan ziek is.
  it  is more.probably/not.probably  the.case  that  Jan ill  is
c. Het is waarschijnlijker/onwaarschijnlijk dat Jan ziek is.
  it  is more.probable/improbable  that  Jan ill  is

The difference between (14b) and (14c) is that the adjective acts as an adverb in the former, but as an adjectival predicate that takes a clausal subject in the latter case (cf. Section 6.5), as was actually already suggested by the glosses in (14). This strongly suggests that zo is obligatory in the right-hand part of the schematic representation in (11), which is also supported by the fact that toch, which cannot be used predicatively, cannot be omitted in (13b).

[+]  II.  VP adverbs

Clauses that contain a VP adverb can be paraphrased by placing the adverb in a coordinated ... en pronoun doet dat adverb clause, in which the pronoun refers to the subject of the first conjunct. A schematic representation of this paraphrase is given in (15), in which coreference is indicated by means of coindexing. The examples in (16) illustrate this test for the manner adverb snel'fast'.

Example 15
VP adverb
[clausesubject .. Adverb ..] ⇒ [clause subjecti ..] en pronouni doet dat adverb
  and does that
Example 16
a. Jan rent snel naar de bakker.
  Jan  runs  fast  to the bakery
b. Jani rent naar de bakker en hiji doet dat snel.
  Jan  runs  to the bakery  and  he  does  that  fast
[+]  III.  Ambiguity between the two readings

The two subsections above have discussed the semantic tests for distinguishing clause and VP adverbs. The examples in (17a) and (17b) show that the two paraphrases are often mutually exclusive: modal adverbs like waarschijnlijk cannot be used in an ... en pronoundoet datadverb clause, and manner adverbs like snel cannot be used in the het is adverb zo dat ... frame.

Example 17
a. * Jan gaat naar Groningen en hij doet dat waarschijnlijk.
  Jan goes  to Groningen  and  he  does  that  probably
b. * Het is snel zo dat Jan naar de bakker rent.
  it  is fast  the.case  that  Jan to the bakery  runs

However, this does not hold for all adverbs. Adverbs of time like morgen'tomorrow', for example, can often be used both as a sentence adverb and as a VP adverb, which is also reflected in that they may either precede or follow adverbs like waarschijnlijk, which must be interpreted as clausal adverbs according to the adverb test in the primed examples.

Example 18
a. Jan wordt morgen (waarschijnlijk) ontslagen.
  Jan be  tomorrow   probably  fired
  'Tomorrow, John will (probably) be fired.'
a'. Het is morgen (waarschijnlijk) zo dat Jan ontslagen wordt.
  it  is tomorrow   probably  the.case  that  Jan  fired  be
b. Jan wordt (waarschijnlijk) morgen ontslagen.
  Jan be  probably  tomorrow  fired
  'John will (probably) be fired tomorrow.'
b'. Het is waarschijnlijk zo dat Jan morgen ontslagen wordt.
  it  is probably  the.case  that  Jan tomorrow  fired  be