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2.5.1.3.Object experiencer psych-verbs
quickinfo

This section discusses object experiencer verbs. Object experiencers can be either accusative or dative. In the former case we are dealing with causative psych-verbs, which can generally be used in two different ways: (i) they may take a causer subject, in which case they behave more or less like regular transitive verbs, or (ii) they may take a cause subject, in which case they exhibit behavior that is not typical for regular transitive verbs. To avoid lengthy descriptions like "causative psych-verb with a causer/cause subject", we will sometimes distinguish the two types by referring to them as transitive and nom-acc psych-verbs, respectively, as in the (a)-examples in (457). Object experiencer verbs with a dative object, like behagen'to please' in (457b), do not differ syntactically from the nom-dat verbs discussed in Section 2.1.3. Recall that the notion "object of emotion" in (457b) is used as a cover term for subject matter and target of emotion.

457
Types of object experiencer psych-verbs
a. PeterCauser ergert MarieExp.
transitive
  Peter  annoys  Marie
a'. Die opmerkingenCause ergeren MarieExp.
nom-acc
  those remarks  annoy  Marie
b. Zulk onbeleefd gedragObject of emotion behaagt henExp niet.
nom-dat
  such impolite behavior  pleases  them  not

Because the nom-dat psych-verbs in (457b) simply constitute a semantic subclass of the nom-dat verbs, we begin with a very brief discussion of these in Subsection I, subsection II provides a more lengthy discussion of the transitive and nom-acc psych-verbs. Since transitive/nom-acc psych-verbs have been claimed to have an underlying structure similar to that of the periphrastic causative psych-construction in (458a), Subsection III compares these constructions and argue that this claim is indeed well founded.

458
a. JanCauser maakt Marie boos.
periphrastic causative psych-verb
  Jan  makes  Marie angry
b. Die opmerkingCause maakt Marie boos.
periphrastic causative psych-verb
  that remark  makes  Marie angry

Subsection IV concludes with a discussion of the inherently reflexive counterparts of causative psych-verbs like ergeren'to annoy'; an example is given in (459).

459
JanExp ergert zich erg (aan zijn oude auto).
reflexive psych-verb
  Jan  annoys  refl  very   of his old car
'Jan is much ashamed (of his old car).'
readmore
[+]  I.  nom-dat psych-verbs

Objects of nom-dat verbs are normally assumed to be experiencers. It will therefore not come as a surprise that many of these verbs can be characterized as psych-verbs. Example (460) provides some examples that may be given this characterization.

460
a. Nom-dat psych-verbs selecting zijn'to be': bevallen'to please', meevallen'to turn out better than was expected', tegenvallen'to disappoint', (goed/slecht) uitkomen'to suit well/badly'Nom-dat psych-verbs selecting zijn'to be': bevallen'to please', meevallen'to turn out better than was expected', tegenvallen'to disappoint', (goed/slecht) uitkomen'to suit well/badly'
b. Nom-dat psych-verbs selecting hebben'to have': aanspreken'to appeal', aanstaan'to please', behagen'to please', berouwen'to regret', bevreemden'to surprise', spijten'to regret', tegenstaan'to pall on', voldoen'to satisfy', (niet) zinnen'to dislike'Nom-dat psych-verbs selecting hebben'to have': aanspreken'to appeal', aanstaan'to please', behagen'to please', berouwen'to regret', bevreemden'to surprise', spijten'to regret', tegenstaan'to pall on', voldoen'to satisfy', (niet) zinnen'to dislike'

The verbs in (460) differ from causative psychological verbs in that the subject of the construction is not a causer/cause. Instead, it seems more appropriate to characterize the subject as the object (target/subject matter) of emotion. This is compatible with the conclusion reached in Section 2.1.2 that the subject of a nom-dat verb is a DO-subject given that an object (subject matter/target) of emotion is normally an internal argument of the verb; cf. (421) in Section 2.5.1.1, sub ID.

461
a. Dat pretparkObject of emotion bevalt JanExp.
  that amusement park  pleases  Jan
b. Deze laffe daadObject of emotion stond ElsExp erg tegen.
  this cowardly deed  palled  Els  much  on
  'That cowardly deed disgusted Els.'

Since the verbs in (460) constitute a subset of the verbs in (88), we refer the reader to Section 2.1.2 for a more detailed discussion of them. Note, however, that the subject of a nom-dat verb is characterized as a theme there, because the notion of object of emotion is not directly relevant in that discussion.

[+]  II.  Causative (transitive and nom-acc) psych-verbs

This subsection is devoted to psych-verbs with an accusative experiencer. The claim that the experiencer is assigned accusative case cannot be directly substantiated for Dutch given the lack of morphological case marking, but can be made plausible by comparing the relevant Dutch verbs to their German counterparts (which normally do take an accusatively marked experiencer object) and/or by investigating the syntactic behavior of these verbs (e.g., by considering the question as to whether the experiencer can be promoted to subject by passivization). The verbs under consideration are causative in the sense that their subjects generally refer to a causer or a cause of the event. The causer and cause can be expressed simultaneously, but in that case the cause must be expressed in the form of an adjunct-PP; cf. example (462c). Experiencer objects are normally obligatory; they can only marginally be omitted in generic examples like ?dat soort opmerkingen kwetst'that kind of remark hurts'.

462
a. JanCauser kwetste MarieExp.
  Jan  hurt  Marie
b. Die opmerkingCause kwetste MarieExp.
  that remark  hurt  Marie
c. JanCauser kwetste Marie met/door die opmerkingCause.
  Jan  hurt  Marie with/by that remark

Example (463) provides a representative sample of causative object experiencer verbs. The verbs in (463a) can all be used in a way similar to kwetsen in (462), that is, with either a causer or a cause subject. The causative object experiencer verbs in (463b), on the other hand, tend to prefer a cause subject (although some may occasionally occur with a causer).

463
a. Causative object experiencer verbs with a causer/cause subject: afstoten'to repel', alarmeren'to alarm', amuseren'to amuse', beledigen'to offend', bemoedigen'to encourage', boeien'to fascinate', ergeren'to annoy', fascineren'to fascinate', grieven'to hurt', hinderen'to bother', imponeren'to impress', interesseren'to interest', intrigeren'to intrigue', irriteren'to irritate', kalmeren'to calm', krenken'to hurt', kwetsen'to hurt', motiveren'to motivate', ontmoedigen'to discourage', ontroeren'to move', opfleuren'to cheer up', opmonteren'to cheer up', opvrolijken'to cheer up', opwinden'to excite', overrompelen'to take by surprise', overtuigen'to convince', overvallen'to take by surprise', prikkelen'to annoy', storen'to disturb', shockeren/choqueren'to shock', verbazen'to amaze', verbijsteren'to bewilder', verblijden'to make happy', vermaken'to entertain', verrassen'to surprise', vertederen'to move', vervelen'to annoy'Causative object experiencer verbs with a causer/cause subject: afstoten'to repel', alarmeren'to alarm', amuseren'to amuse', beledigen'to offend', bemoedigen'to encourage', boeien'to fascinate', ergeren'to annoy', fascineren'to fascinate', grieven'to hurt', hinderen'to bother', imponeren'to impress', interesseren'to interest', intrigeren'to intrigue', irriteren'to irritate', kalmeren'to calm', krenken'to hurt', kwetsen'to hurt', motiveren'to motivate', ontmoedigen'to discourage', ontroeren'to move', opfleuren'to cheer up', opmonteren'to cheer up', opvrolijken'to cheer up', opwinden'to excite', overrompelen'to take by surprise', overtuigen'to convince', overvallen'to take by surprise', prikkelen'to annoy', storen'to disturb', shockeren/choqueren'to shock', verbazen'to amaze', verbijsteren'to bewilder', verblijden'to make happy', vermaken'to entertain', verrassen'to surprise', vertederen'to move', vervelen'to annoy'
b. Causative object experiencer verbs with (preferably) a cause subject: aangrijpen'to move', beangstigen'to frighten', bedaren'to calm down', bedroeven'to sadden', benauwen'to oppress', bevreemden'to surprise', deprimeren'to depress', frustreren'to frustrate', opkikkeren'to cheer up', raken'to affect', verbitteren'to embitter', verheugen'to rejoice', verontrusten'to alarm', verwonderen'to surprise'Causative object experiencer verbs with (preferably) a cause subject: aangrijpen'to move', beangstigen'to frighten', bedaren'to calm down', bedroeven'to sadden', benauwen'to oppress', bevreemden'to surprise', deprimeren'to depress', frustreren'to frustrate', opkikkeren'to cheer up', raken'to affect', verbitteren'to embitter', verheugen'to rejoice', verontrusten'to alarm', verwonderen'to surprise'

The following subsections will extensively discuss the properties of these verbs. Special attention will be paid to the differences between the constructions in (462a&b) with a causer and a cause subject, respectively.

[+]  A.  The verb does not select an object of emotion

A remarkable fact about causative object experiencer verbs is that they do not occur with a subject matter of emotion. Whereas we have seen in (418), repeated here as the (a)-examples in (464), that constructions with the psych-adjective bang'afraid' may contain a causer, a cause and a subject matter of emotion, the (b)-examples in (464) show that a subject matter of emotion cannot be used with the almost synonymous causative verb beangstigen'to frighten'.

464
a. PeterCauser maakt JanExp met zijn verhalenCause bang voor spokenSubjM.
  Peter  makes  Jan  with his stories afraid  of ghosts
a'. Peters verhalenCause maken JanExp bang voor spokenSubjM.
  Peterʼs stories  make  Jan afraid  of ghosts
b. PeterCauser beangstigt JanExp met zijn verhalenCause (*voor spokenSubjM).
  Peter frightens  Jan  with his stories     of ghosts
b'. Peters verhalenCause beangstigen JanExp (*voor spokenSubjM).
  Peterʼs stories  frighten  Jan     of ghosts

Perhaps we can even generalize this and claim that causative psych-verbs cannot occur with any object (subject matter/target) of emotion. If so, the verb interesseren'to interest' is an exception to the general rule, given that it seems to allow a voor-PP expressing the target of emotion.

465
PeterCauser/het verhaalCause interesseerde JanExp voor dat onderwerpTarget.
  Peter/the story  interested  Jan  for that topic
'Peter/the story interested the boys in that topic.'

Note in this connection that Pesetsky (1995: 61/283) claims that causative psych-verbs with a particle are able to select an object of emotion in English, whereas in Dutch this seems to be completely excluded. This can be seen by comparing the Dutch examples in (466) to their English renderings in the primed examples, which Pesetsky gives as fully acceptable.

466
a. Het nieuws vrolijkte Sue op (*over haar toestand).
  the news  cheered  Sue up     about her plight
a'. The news cheered Sue up about her plight.
b. De lezingen wonden Bill op (*over klassieke muziek).
  the lectures  turned  Bill on     about classical music
b'. The lectures turned Bill on to classical music.
[+]  B.  The verb is possibly a derived form

Subsections C to I below will show that the psych-verbs in (463) differ from regular transitive verbs in various respects. It has been suggested that these differences are due to the fact that causative object experiencer verbs are not simple forms but morphologically complex ones. Although this claim is not always easy to substantiate, the following subsections will show that there are reasons for assuming that it is indeed correct for a large number of these verbs.

[+]  1.  Verbs derived from an adjective

That the causative psych-verbs in (463) are morphologically complex is, of course, uncontroversial for the deadjectival verbs in (467). Note that the prefixes ver- and be- may also express causation when the base adjective does not refer to a mental state, as is clear from ver-edel-en'to ennoble' and be-vochtig-en'to moisten'.

467
Deadjectival causative psych-verbs
a. prefixed with ver-: blij'happy'-verblijden'to make happy', bitter'bitter'-verbitteren'embitter', teder'tender/soft'-vertederen'to move/soften'prefixed with ver-: blij'happy'-verblijden'to make happy', bitter'bitter'-verbitteren'embitter', teder'tender/soft'-vertederen'to move/soften'
b. prefixed with be-: angst'fear'-beangstigen'to frighten', droef'sad'-bedroeven'to sadden', moed'courage'- bemoedigen'to encourage', nauw'narrow'-benauwen'to oppress', vreemd'strange'-bevreemden'to surprise'prefixed with be-: angst'fear'-beangstigen'to frighten', droef'sad'-bedroeven'to sadden', moed'courage'- bemoedigen'to encourage', nauw'narrow'-benauwen'to oppress', vreemd'strange'-bevreemden'to surprise'

The fact that many of the verbs in (463) are prefixed with ver-, be- and ont- might be better understood if we assume that these affixes are responsible for the causative meaning aspect in all these cases.

[+]  2.  The causative-inchoative alternation

There are verbs that can be used both as unaccusative and as transitive verbs. A prototypical verb that exhibits this alternation is breken'to break', which can be used both as an inchoative, unaccusative verb and as a causative, transitive verb. It has been claimed that the causer is introduced by a zero-morpheme that attaches to the (simple) unaccusative verb; see Section 3.2.3 for more discussion.

468
Inchoative-causative alternation
a. Het glasTheme breekt.
  the glass  breaks
b. JanCauser breekt het glasTheme.
  Jan  breaks  the glass

Although Section 2.5.1.2, sub III, has shown that there are only a few unaccusative psych-verbs, the same alternation can be found with psych-verbs. The (a)- and (b)-examples of (469) show this for the verbs kalmeren/bedaren'to calm down' in (448a&b). The unaccusative verb schrikken'to get frightened' in (448c) does not participate in this alternation, but it is nevertheless possible to derive a causative form of it by making use of the prefix ver-, which results in the perhaps somewhat obsolete verb verschrikken'to frighten' (causative verschrikken is mainly known in its adjectival participial form verschrikt'frightened' and as part of the instrumental compound noun vogelverschrikker'scarecrow'). The somewhat formal example in (469c') is relevant, however, in that the prefix ver- is perhaps an overt counterpart of the postulated phonetically empty causative morpheme that derives the causative forms in the primed (a)- and (b)-examples in (469).

469
a. Zijn boze vriendExp kalmeerde snel.
  his angry friend  calmed.down  quickly
a'. JanCauser kalmeerde zijn vriend snel.
  Jan  calmed.down  his friend  quickly
b. MarieExp bedaarde snel.
  Marie  calmed.down  quickly
b'. Zijn vriendelijke woordenCause bedaarden MarieExp snel.
  his kind words  calmed.down  Marie  quickly
c. JanExp schrok van de plotselinge verschijning van de geestCause.
  Jan  got.frightened  of the sudden appearance of the ghost
c'. $ De plotselinge verschijning van de geestCause verschrok Jan.
  the sudden appearance of the ghost  frightened Jan

Unaccusative psych-verbs with particles all have causative counterparts. Since the particle is claimed to function as a kind of predicate, the primed examples in (470) can probably be considered to be on a par with the causative non-psych-construction Jan breekt het glas in stukken'Jan breaks the glass to pieces'.

470
a. JanExp montert helemaal op.
  Jan cheers  completely  up
a'. PeterCauser montert JanExp helemaal op.
  Peter  cheers  Jan  completely  up
b. PeterExp fleurt helemaal op.
  Peter  cheers  completely  up
b'. Maries opmerkingCause fleurt PeterExp helemaal op.
  Marieʼs remark cheers  Peter  completely  up
c. JanExp kikkert helemaal op.
  Jan  cheers  completely  up
c'. Die lekkere soepCause kikkert JanExp helemaal op.
  that tasty soup  cheers  Jan  completely  up

Note that it is not the case that all causative psych-verbs have an unaccusative counterpart; the other verbs in (463) do not or only with difficulty.

[+]  3.  Verbs ending in -eren

Many causative psych-verbs are Latinate, or at least Romance, forms ending in -eren. Although there are no attested words from which these verbs are derived, it seems plausible that they are derived from non-verbal stems by means of affixation with the causative morpheme -eren. Table (471) shows that these postulated non-verbal stems can also be used to derive nouns and adjectives; cf. De Haas & Trommelen (1993:348) and Booij (2002:127-8).

471
Latinate forms in -eren
stem derived verb derived noun derived adjective
amus- amus-eren
to amuse
amus-ement
amusement
amus-ant
amusing
frustr- frustr-eren
to frustrate
frustr-atie
frustration
frustr-erend
frustrating
intrig- intrig-eren
to make curious
intrig-e
intrigue
intrig-erend
intriguing
irrit- irrit-eren
to irritate
irrit-atie
irritation
irrit-ant
irritating
stimul- stimul-eren
to stimulate
stimul-atie
stimulation
stimul-erend
stimulating

The idea that -eren is or can act as a causative morpheme is supported by the fact illustrated in (472) that it also derives causative object experiencer verb from nouns.

472
Denominal causative psych-verbs ending in -eren: alarm'alarm'-alarmeren'to alarm', charme'charm' - charmeren'to charm', motief'motive'-motiveren'to motivate', shock'shock'-shockeren'to shock'Denominal causative psych-verbs ending in -eren: alarm'alarm'-alarmeren'to alarm', charme'charm' - charmeren'to charm', motief'motive'-motiveren'to motivate', shock'shock'-shockeren'to shock'
[+]  4.  Conclusion and caveat

The previous subsections have shown that for many causative psych-verbs there is reason for assuming that some causative affix is present, and that the verb is therefore complex, subsection III will show that, syntactically seen, causative psych-verbs resemble periphrastic causative constructions such as (473b), which might be considered as additional evidence for the assumption that the causative psych-verbs are morphologically complex.

473
a. JanExp is bang.
  Jan  is afraid
b. De schaduwen op de muurCause maken Jan bang.
  the shadows on the wall  make  Jan afraid

It should be noted, however, that the presence of a (possibly phonetically empty) causative morpheme is not immediately plausible in all cases. The psych-verbs in (474a), for example, are probably denominal, but to our knowledge, there is no reason for assuming that the verbal ending -en is causative in nature. Moreover, the psych-verbs in (474b) do not seem to be derived at all as there does not seem to exist a base form that may be considered the input of the verb (in present-day Dutch, at least).

474
a. prikkel'stimulus'-prikkelen'to stimulate', schok'shock'schokken'to shock'
b. ergeren'to annoy', krenken'to offend', kwetsen'to hurt'

Of course, we may adopt a similar assumption for the verbs in (474b) as for Latinate verbs like irriteren'to irritate', and claim that they are derived from stems that only occur as bound morphemes. The adjectives and nouns in (475) can then be seen as derived directly from this stem. On this assumption, the two sets of verbs in (474a&b) would form a single class of problem for the assumption that all causative psych-verbs are complex.

475
a. erger-lijk'annoying', krenk-end'offensive', kwets-end'hurtful'
b. erger-nis'annoyance', krenk-ing'offence', kwets-uur'hurt'
[+]  C.  The semantic role of the subject

We have already noted that (in the majority of cases) the subject of an object experiencer verb can have the semantic role of causer or cause; cf. the discussion of (463). A question that should be raised is whether the role of causer can or should be distinguished from the thematic role of agent, since in many respects causers and agents behave in the same way. For example, agent-oriented adverbs like opzettelijk'deliberately' can readily be used with a causer subject; cf. the primeless examples in (476). In addition, the primed examples show that causative psych-verbs with a causer subject can readily be embedded under the volitional verb willen'want' or the causative verb laten'to make', which suggests that the causer is not only agent-like but also has control over the event.

476
a. JanCauser irriteert MarieExp opzettelijk.
  Jan  irritates  Marie  deliberately
a'. JanCauser wil MarieExp irriteren.
  Jan  wants  Marie  irritate
a''. Peter laat JanCauser MarieExp irriteren.
  Peter makes  Jan  Marie  irritate
b. JanCauser kwetst zijn vriendExp opzettelijk.
  Jan  hurts  his friend  deliberately
b'. JanCauser wil zijn vriendExp kwetsen.
  Jan  wants  his friend  hurt
b''. Peter laat JanCauser zijn vriendExp kwetsen.
  Peter makes  Jan  his friend  hurt

The examples in (477) show that causative psych-verbs with a cause subject behave totally differently in this respect: they do not allow the agent-oriented adverb opzettelijk, and they cannot be embedded under volitional willen or the causative verb laten, which shows that the cause subject certainly cannot be considered agentive.

477
a. * Jans jaloezieCause irriteert zijn vriendExp opzettelijk.
  Janʼs jealousy  irritates  his friend  deliberately
a'. * Jans jaloezieCause wil zijn vriendExp irriteren.
  Janʼs jealousy  wants  his friend  irritate
a''. * Peter laat Jans jaloezieCause zijn vriendExp irriteren.
  Peter makes  Janʼs jealousy  his friend  irritate
b. * Jans opmerkingCause kwetst zijn vriendExp opzettelijk.
  Janʼs remark  hurts  his friend  deliberately
b'. * Jans opmerkingCause wil zijn vriendExp kwetsen.
  Janʼs remark  wants  his friend  hurt
b''. * Peter laat Jans opmerkingCause zijn vriendExp kwetsen.
  Peter makes  Janʼs remark  his friend  hurt

      It is important to note that the unacceptability of the examples in (477) has nothing to do with the inanimateness of the subject. In order to see this it should be noted that examples with a +human subject, like Jan irriteert MarieExp'Jan irritates Marie', are actually ambiguous between two readings; on the first reading the subject functions as the causer, and the example expresses that the irritation on the part of Marie is caused by some action of Jan; on the second reading, the subject functions as the cause and under this reading the example expresses that it is simply Jan's presence that irritates Marie. In the primed examples of (476), it is only the causer subject reading that survives. This can be illustrated in a slightly different way by means of the examples in (478), in which the +human subject is preferably construed as a cause: the preferred reading of this example is that it is the whining of the children that irritates the father. As long as we stick to this interpretation, the constructions in (478b-d) are unacceptable: these examples are only (marginally) acceptable under the less prominent interpretation of (478a) that the cause of the irritation is something other than the whining.

478
a. Kinderen die jengelenCause irriteren hun vaderExp.
  children that whine  irritate  their father
b. # Kinderen die jengelenCause irriteren hun vader opzettelijk.
  children that whine  irritate  their father  deliberately
c. # Kinderen die jengelenCause willen hun vader irriteren.
  children that whine  want  their father  irritate
d. # Jan laat kinderen die jengelenCause hun vaderExp irriteren.
  Jan makes  children that whine  their father  irritate

The examples in (478) therefore show that it is agentivity that is at stake: the cause subject of a causative psych-verb is not agentive. Another indication that cause subjects are non-agentive is that they may take the form of a clause, which is never possible with agentive subjects. The clause can be placed in sentence-initial or in sentence-final position; in the latter case, the subject position is normally occupied by the anticipatory subject pronoun het.

479
a. [Dat de muziek zo hard staat]Cause, irriteert de jongensExp.
  that  the music  so loud  is  irritates  the boys
  'The fact that the music is so loud is irritating the boys.'
b. Het irriteert de jongensExp [dat