Norbert Corver

On Silent Semi-lexical person

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It is a well-known fact that the bound morpheme -s occurs on the possessor in Dutch possessive noun phrases such as Jans auto ('Jan's car'), tantes fiets ('aunt's bike'), etc. In recent years, various generativelinguistic studies have tried to give a proper characterization of the bound morpheme -s, which historically relates to a genitival suffix. For example, it has been interpreted as a functional category belonging to the category D, Agr, or Pos(sessor). One of the most remarkable occurrences of -s is the one on proper names and family names that function as arguments in the clause, a phenomenon attested in various dialects of Dutch. Van Haeringen's (1947) seminal article on this phenomenon gives the following example: Laten we vaders daar nou maar buiten houden (lit. 'Let we father's there but outside keep', 'Let's keep father out'). In this article, I will try to give a proper characterization of this bound morpheme that has a definite article-like behavior and elaborate on the syntax of proper names.


  • silent noun
  • semi-lexical noun
  • person
  • subject-object asymmetry
  • Dutch dialects


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