Two 'way'-constructions in Dutch: motion along a path and transition to a location

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Theses / Dissertations
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Master of Arts
University of Canterbury. Linguistics
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van Egmond, Marie-Elaine

This thesis introduces a Dutch construction, called the Transition to Location Construction (TLC). The TLC is parallel to the way-construction in English. A second Dutch equivalent of the way-construction, called the weg-construction, is investigated in this thesis as well. The two Dutch constructions have a different meaning and syntax: the weg-construction is ditransitive and denotes motion along a path, whereas the TLC is transitive and denotes a transition to a location, which does not involve the traversal of a path. This thesis gives a detailed description of both Dutch constructions and demonstrates that they represent a mismatch in the syntax-semantics mapping: the verb has two syntactic complements, but these are not semantic argument of the verb. Moreover, the syntactic head of the sentence is not the semantic head, because the main verb is subordinate to a GO or CAUSE function. Both constructions are very productive and should therefore be taken seriously by any theory of syntax. The Minimalist Program currently does not incorporate constructions. In the Minimalist account offered here, several additional assumptions are made to account for the fact that it is not the verb that determines the complement configuration of the weg-construction and the TLC. In the literature, the English way-construction is considered to denote motion along a path. Based on the two Dutch constructions investigated here, the way-construction will be shown to be in fact ambiguous between a motion along a path reading and a transition to a location reading. Furthermore, this path/transition distinction is present in other Germanic languages as well, which has previously not been recognised.

way-construction, Dutch, Minimalism, event structure, constructions
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ANZSRC fields of research
Copyright Marie-Elaine van Egmond