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5.2.2. Te-infinitivals

This section discusses the use of te-infinitivals as arguments of main verbs. Such clauses are formally characterized by the fact that they are headed by a te-infinitive but cannot be introduced by the complementizer om we find in om + te-infinitivals; this contrast is illustrated in (435). The fact that the complementizer om is normally optional in examples such as (435a) raises the question as to whether the forms without om could or should be considered te-infinitivals but we postpone discussion of this to Section; this section will only discuss verbs that do not allow their infinitival complement to be introduced by om.

a. Mariei weigerde [(om) PROi dat boek te lezen].
om + te-infinitival
  Marie  refused  comp  that book  to read
  'Marie refused to read that book.'
b. Mariei beweerde [(*om) PROi dat boek te lezen].
  Marie  claimed    comp  that book  to read
  'Marie claimed to be reading that book.'

An important distinction in the domain of argumental te-infinitivals is between control and subject raising constructions. Consider the primeless examples in (436) with the verbs beweren'to claim' and blijken'to turn out'. These verbs differ in that the former is dyadic, as is clear from the fact that it takes a nominal subject and a sentential object, whereas the latter is monadic, as is clear from the fact that it only takes a sentential subject (which is introduced here by the anticipatory pronoun het'it'); the difference in adicity of the two verbs comes out even more clearly in the primed examples, in which the finite clauses are pronominalized by dat'that'.

a. De man beweerde gisteren [dat hij een tovenaar is].
  the man  claimed  yesterday   that  he  a magician  is
  'The man claimed yesterday that heʼs a magician.'
a'. De man beweerde dat gisteren.
  the man  claimed  that  yesterday
b. Het bleek al snel [dat de man een tovenaar is].
  it  turned.out  prt.  soon   that  the man  a magician  is
  'It soon turned out that the man is a magician.'
b'. Dat bleek al snel.
  that turned.out  prt.  soon

Transposing these findings to the infinitival constructions in (437), we can conclude that the two occurrences of the nominative noun phrase de man'the man' differ in that the one in (437a) simply corresponds to subject of the main clause in (436a), whereas the one in (437b) corresponds to the subject of the embedded clause in (436b). This is indicated in the structures below as follows: in (437a), de man is simply base-generated as the external argument of the matrix verb beweren and the infinitival clause contains a phonetically empty PRO-subject corresponding to the subject pronoun hij of the embedded finite clause in (436a); in (437b), on the other hand, de man is base-generated as an argument of the embedded infinitival clause and subsequently raised to the subject position of the matrix clause; it follows that the infinitival clause does not contain a PRO-subject but a trace of the moved noun phrase. Control and subject raising constructions will be discussed separately in, respectively, Section and Section

a. De mani beweert [PROi een tovenaar te zijn].
  the man  claims  a magician to be
  'The man claims to be a magician.'
b. De mani schijnt [ti een tovenaar te zijn].
subject raising
  the man  seems a magician to be
  'The man seems to be a magician.'

Section will also include a discussion of subject raising constructions that we will refer to as passive "subject raising" constructions as such constructions are normally passive counterparts of subject control constructions (with the exception of a couple of more idiomatic examples). The active counterpart of the passive construction in (438b) is the somewhat formal construction in (438a); the corresponding construction with an overt noun phrase in the position of the trace ti in (438c) is unacceptable.

a. Jani veronderstelt [PROi de beste leerling van de klas te zijn].
  Jan  assumes  the best pupil of the class  to be
  'Jan assumes that he (= Jan) is the best pupil of the class.'
b. Jani wordt verondersteld [ti de beste leerling van de klas te zijn].
  Jan  is  assumed  the best pupil of the class  to be
  'Jan is assumed to be the best pupil of the class.'
c. * Marie veronderstelt [Jan de beste leerling van de klas te zijn].
  Marie assumes   Jan the best pupil of the class  to be

The reader will look in vain for so-called "long passive" constructions of the kind we find in German examples such as (439b), in which passivization of the matrix verb results in promotion of the object of the embedded verb. Dutch does not allow this type of passive constructions, as is shown by (439b'). For an extensive discussion of long passivization in German, we refer to Wurmbrand (2001) and references cited there.

a. dass der Johannnom den Traktoracc zu reparieren versuchte.
  that  the Johann  the tractor  to repair  tried
  'that Johann tried to repair the tractor.'
a'. dat Jan/hij de tractor/hem probeerde te repareren.
  that  Jan/he  the tractor/him  tried  to repair
  'that Jan/he tried to repair the tractor/it.'
b. dass der Traktornom zu reparieren versucht wurde.
  that  the tractor  to repair  tried  was
b'. * dat de tractor/hij geprobeerd werd te repareren.
  the  the tractor/he  tried  was  to repair
  • Wurmbrand, Susanne2001Infinitives. Restructuring and clause structureBerlin/New YorkMouton de Gruyter
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