A lexicalist account of Dutch R-pronouns

Gosse Bouma (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)


Two of the most intriguing aspects of Dutch R-pronouns pronouns are
that:
(a) they can be the object of a preposition, but have to be realized 
in a position preceding the preposition in the Middle field, or as a
filler in an unbounded dependency construction, and (b) several
functions of the R-pronoun `er' (such as being an (expletive)
subject as well as being an object of a preposition) can be amalgamated 
into a single occurrence of the word.  

In this paper we investigate these two phenomena from the perspective of Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar, and argue for an account in which (a) R-pronouns are treated as adverbs, which may be freely added to the argument structure of a verb to form a `extended' argument structure, (b) the relationship between a preposition and an R-pronominal object is analyzed in terms of SLASH, and (c) amalgamation of functions follows from the assumption that the presence of `er' (be it expletive or prepositional) implies that the verb binds all occurrences of similar items on SLASH. Our account is purely lexicalist and constraint-based, and is formulated solely in terms of general constraints on possible mappings between argument structure and valence.