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This chapter takes as its point of departure the discussion in Section 9.2, which has shown that finite verbs can be found in basically two positions: the clause-final position in embedded clauses and the verb-first/second position in main clauses; the latter position is normally occupied by a complementizer in embedded clauses.

Example 1
a. Marie zegt [dat Jan het boek op dit moment leest].
  Marie says  that  Jan  the book  at this moment  reads
  'Mary says that Jan is reading the book at this moment.'
b. Op dit moment leest Jan het boek.
  at this moment  reads  Jan the book
  'At this moment, Jan is reading the book.'

On the basis of these two positions, the clause can be divided into various “topological” fields: the clause-initial position, the middle field and the postverbal field; cf. representation (2).

Example 2

Chapter 11 has shown that the C-position can be preceded by at most one constituent. Nevertheless there are cases, like those given in example (3), in which this position is preceded by a second phrase. If the structure of the clause postulated in (2) is indeed correct, we have to conclude that the italicized phrases preceding the clause-initial position are clause-external. This seems supported by the fact that these phrases can be set apart from the sentence by a distinct intonation break.

Example 3
a. Ja, dat wist ik al.
polar yes/no
  yes  that  knew  already
  'Yes, I already knew that.'
b. Jan, er is telefoon voor je.
  Jan  there  is phone.call  for you
  'Jan, thereʼs a phone call for you.'
c. Lieve help, hij is ziek.
  good grief,  he is ill
  'Good grief, heʼs ill!'

That the italicized phrases in (3) are clause-external is also suggested by the fact that they occur in root contexts only; cf. Riemsdijk & Zwarts (1997). The examples in (4), for instance, are excluded on the intended reading; the number signs indicate that vocatives and interjections can sometimes be used as parentheticals (if preceded and followed by an intonation break) but such cases are equivalent to cases in which they precede the full sentence, which shows that they should be construed with the main and not with the embedded clause.

Example 4
a. Hij hoorde <*ja> dat <*ja> ik dat al wist.
  he  heard     yes  that  that  already  knew
  'He heard that I knew that already.'
b. Ik vermoed <#Jan> dat <*Jan> er telefoon voor je is.
  suspect       Jan  that  there  phone.call  for you  is
  'I suspect that thereʼs a phone call for you.'
c. Marie ontkende <#lieve help> dat <*lieve help> hij ziek is.
  Marie denied      good grief  that  he  ill  is
  'Marie denied that he is ill.'

The examples in (3) and (4) suggest that polar ja/nee, vocatives and interjections are not only extra-clausal but even extra-sentential: they can also occur without an accompanying clause under the proper extra-linguistic circumstances: ja/nee suffices as an answer to a yes/no-question, vocatives can simply be used to attract attention, and interjections such as Lieve help! can be used in response to the occurrence of eventualities with certain undesirable qualities.

Example 5
a. Heb je even tijd voor me? Nee.
answer to yes/no-question
  have  you  a.moment  time  for me  no
  'Do you have a moment for me? No.'
b. Jan!
call for attention
c. Lieve help!

Since the italicized phrases in (3) may be extra-sentential, it is not clear whether they should be dealt with in a work on syntax. These elements instead seem to play an important role in discourse, e.g., by drawing the attention of discourse participants (vocatives and certain interjections) and by expressing emotions (the interjection Lieve help!). Discourse chunks such as (6) further show that such elements play an important role in structuring discourse by regulating turn-taking; the extra-sentential element toch is used for requesting feedback and ja provides a response to this request. The extra-sentential elements discussed so far are often referred to as pragmaticmarkers in order to express that they are generally assumed to be the subject matter of theories on language use.

Example 6
Jan is al weg, toch? Ja, dat klopt.
  Jan is  already  away  prt  yes  that  is.right
'Jan has left, hasnʼt he? Yes, thatʼs right.'

It should be noted, however, that certain extra-sentential elements have been considered by syntacticians for a long time. This holds especially for so-called left-dislocation constructions as illustrated in the (a)-examples in (7), in which a sentence-external phrase is resumed by a demonstrative in clause-initial position or a referential pronoun in the middle field of the clause; the intended reading is indicated by means of indices. For phrases following the clause the same holds: these are often not discussed in syntactic work with the exception of right-dislocated phrases such as given in (7b), which have a correlate in the preceding clause.

Example 7
a. Peteri, diei heb ik gisteren gezien.
left dislocation
  Peter  dem  have  yesterday  seen
  'Peter, I saw him yesterday.'
a'. Peteri, ik heb hemi gisteren gezien.
left dislocation
  Peter  have  him  yesterday  seen
  'Peter, I saw him yesterday.'
b. Ik heb hem gisteren gezien, Peter.
right dislocation
  have  him  yesterday  seen  Peter
  'I saw him yesterday, Peter.'

Left- and right-dislocated phrases differ from the extra-sentential phrases of the type mentioned earlier in that they do not primarily have a pragmatic function, but instead play an important role in shaping the information structure of utterances. Given that this work is not concerned with the actual use of utterances, the focus of this chapter will be on left- and right-dislocated phrases, which will be discussed in Section 14.2 and 14.3, respectively. For completeness’ sake, however, Section 14.1 briefly addresses a number of extra-sentential pragmatic markers.

  • Riemsdijk, Henk van & Zwarts, Frans1997Left dislocation in Dutch and the status of copying rules [originally written in 1974]Anagnostopoulou, Elena, Riemsdijk, Henk van & Zwarts, Frans (eds.)Materials on left dislocationAmsterdam/PhiladephiaJohn Benjamins Publishing Company13-54