LINGUIST List 11.2534

Fri Nov 24 2000

Sum: Quotative Inversion

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Chris Collins, Quotative Inversion

Message 1: Quotative Inversion

Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 21:26:37 -0500
From: Chris Collins <>
Subject: Quotative Inversion

Dear Linguist List,

I posted a question to the Linguist List about the transitivity constraint in
Quotative Inversion (
Thanks to the following people for responding:
	Arild Hestvik
	Theo Vennemann.
	Peter T. Daniels
	Line Hove Mikkelsen
	Georgia Green
	Joost Kremers
	Arthur Stepanov

I did not receive any information on non-Indo-European languages.
I would like to ask for information (references, data) on any
non-Indo-European languages that have QI. In addition,
if anybody has any references (other than the ones listed below)
on QI in general, I would be interested in hearing about them.
I will post a summary of responses to these questions if there is enough 

In my original post I predicted that "languages with a productive
V/2 strategy will not have the transitivity constraint, since QI
in those languages should also trigger V/2."

Overall it is clear that this prediction holds. The prediction holds
for Standard German (Vennemann) and Danish (Mikkelsen). Similarly,
Bulgarian (Stepanov) has verb fronting in questions and does not have a
transitivity constraint (although Bulgarian is not a full V/2 language).

The most interesting case so far seems to be Dutch, which has the following
paradigm (Kremers):

1	a. 	*"ik ben zo gelukkig", marie zei tegen jan
	b. 	"ik ben zo gelukkig", zei marie tegen jan

2	a. 	*"ik ben zo gelukkig", marie zei jan
	b. 	??"ik ben zo gelukkig", zei marie jan

3	a. 	*"wat is de wisselkoers?" marie vroeg aan jan
	b. 	"wat is de wisselkoers?" vroeg marie aan jan

4	a. 	*"wat is de wisselkoers?" marie vroeg jan
	b. 	??"wat is de wisselkoers?" vroeg marie jan

	On the basis of this paradigm (especially (2b) and (4b)), it looks like 
Dutch has a
transitivity constraint on quotative inversion. However, as Joost Kremers 
points out,
there are many factors which complicate the picture. For example, if the 
object in (2b) and (4b) is replaced by a pronoun, the sentences improve 
greatly (no such
amelioration effect holds for English QI).
	On the basis of further examples, Kremers gives the following generalization:
"QI (and inversion in general) with double object verbs is only possible if 
the indirect
object does not have focus. If the indirect object is replaced with a 
prepositional object,
this object can have focus, although it does not have to." Summarizing 
Kremers states:
"it seems that your initial prediction that V2 languages should not show 
the double
transitivity constraint is in fact correct, at least for Dutch."

For people interested, a few addition references on Quotative Inversion are 
the following:

Collins, Chris. 1997. Local Economy. Cambridge, MIT Press (especially 
chapter 3).

Collins, Chris and Phil Branigan. 1997. Quotative Inversion. NLLT 15, 1-41.

Suner, Margarita. 2000. The Syntax of Direct Quotes with Special Reference 
to Spanish and English. NLLT 18, 525-578.

Georgia Green told me about the following reference, which I have not been 
able to obtain:

Gabriella Hermon, Gabriella. 1979. On the Discourse Structure of Direct 
Quotation. Technical Report No. 143. Center for the Study of Reading, 
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.
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