The syntax of possessors in Flemish varieties of Dutch

Start - End 
2011 - 2015 (completed)
Department of Linguistics
Research Focus 
Research Language 
Research Methodology 



In certain varieties of Flemish, a possessor need not be structurally adjacent to its possessee. Examples of this are the Flemish External Possessor (FEP) (Haegeman & van Koppen 2012), Flemish Possessor Relativisation (FPR) (Haegeman 2004), and Flemish Event Possession (FEVP). This project looks at the syntactic relationship between the possessor and possessee in these patterns and aims to more generally reflect on the syntactic theory of (possessive) predication, the notion of subjecthood, applicatives, affectedness and aboutness. It also looks into more detail into the left periphery of the prenominal possessive DP, and in the syntactic area between CP and IP.

In the FEP pattern (1a), the possessor (Marie ‘Mary’) is separated from its possessee (eur velo ‘her bike’) by the adjunct with clausal scope (toen just ‘just then’). The external strategy can be compared to the internal possessor structure in (1b) where the adjunct does not intervene between the possessor and possessee.

 (1)       a.  ’t Moest lukken dat [Marie] [toen just] [eur velo] kapot was.

                  it had-to happen that Mary then just her bike broken was

                  ‘It so happened that Mary’s bike was broken just then.

             b.  ‘t Was [Marie eur velo] die [toen just] kapot was.

                  it was Mary her bike that broken was

                  ‘It was Mary’s bike that was broken just then.’

In the FPR pattern (2a), the possessor (die verpleegster ‘that nurse’) is relativized (across multiple clausal boundaries) but not with the regular relativization strategy (2b) in which a relative pronoun (wiens ‘whose’) takes on the role of the relativized possessor in its original clause remaining adjacent to the possessee (huis ‘house’). Instead, in the FPR (2a), the clause in which the possessor originates is an embedded that-clause. The possessee (eur hus ‘her house’) remains in this embedded clause. The non-relativized strategy can be seen in (2c).

(2)       a.  Dat is [die verpleegster] [dan-ze gisteren [eur hus] verkocht een].

                that is that nurse that-they yesterday her house sold have

            b.  Dat is die verpleegster [[wiens huis] ze gisteren verkocht hebben].

                that is that nurse whose house they yesterday sold have

                ‘That’s the nurse whose house they sold yesterday.’

            c.  [[Die verpleegster eur hus] is verkocht].

                 that nurse her house is sold

                ‘That nurse’s house has been sold.’

In the FEVP (3) there is a clausal possessive relation between the possessor and possessee which is spelled out by the verbs HAVE (hebben) (3a) or BE (zijn) (3b). The possessor (we ‘we’) is the (apparent) subject of the clause, the possessee is an embedded that-clause expressing an event which affects the subject (dat onze valiezen plots openscheurden ‘that our suitcases suddenly ripped open’). The relation of possession is an abstract one bordering on that of experience/affectedness.

(3)       a.  [We]zijn nog geweest [dat onze valiezen plots openscheurden].

                we are PRT been that our suitcases suddenly open-ripped

            b.  [We]hebben (het) nog gehad [dat onze valiezen plots openscheurden].

                we have it PRT had that our suitcases suddenly open-ripped

                ‘We’ve had it happen to us that our suitcases suddenly ripped open.’




Phd Student(s)