LINGUIST List 14.2704

Tue Oct 7 2003

Diss: Syntax/Morphology: Toebosch: 'Gender...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. toebosch, Gender-Animacy and the Morpho-Syntax

Message 1: Gender-Animacy and the Morpho-Syntax

Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2003 13:16:47 +0000
From: toebosch <>
Subject: Gender-Animacy and the Morpho-Syntax

Institution: University of Michigan
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Annemarie Toebosch 

Dissertation Title: Gender-Animacy and the Morpho-Syntax of Object
Clitics in Dutch

Linguistic Field:	Syntax 

Subject Language: Dutch (code: DUT)

Dissertation Director 1: Samuel D. Epstein
Dissertation Director 2: Christina M. Tortora
Dissertation Director 3: William H. Baxter III.
Dissertation Director 4: Marilyn J. Shatz

Dissertation Abstract: 


In this dissertation I describe and analyze a variation in the
morpho-syntax of phonologically reduced, or DEFICIENT, object pronouns
in Dutch. I show that in non-Southern varieties of Dutch (NSV Dutch),
the syntactic distribution of deficient object pronouns is dependent
on the animacy of the referent of these pronouns. Those with inanimate
referents can precede exceptionally Case-marked clause-mate subjects,
whereas those with animate referents cannot. Furthermore, deficient
object pronouns with animate referents can occur as complements of
prepositions, whereas those with inanimate referents cannot. In other
varieties of Dutch, deficient object pronouns form a homogeneous class
such that their syntactic distribution is not affected by referent
animacy (see Zwart (1997)).

In this work I propose that the concept 'animacy' is represented in
language in terms of the features [animate] and [female] of nominal
expressions. I propose that these features are contrastive in grammars
where referent animacy affects the syntax of nominal expressions, and
non-contrastive in grammars where it does not.

In addition, I propose a feature-geometric analysis to account for the
relationship between animacy and word gender in languages where
animacy features are contrastive. Specifically, I have argued that the
animacy features [animate] and [female] are hierarchically organized
with respect to the gender features [non-neut] and [fem] such that (i)
[animate] entails [non-neut], and (ii) [female] entails both [fem] and
[animate] (and thus, transitively, [non-neut]). This feature-geometric
analysis constrains possible gender-animacy specifications of nominal
expressions in languages, accounting, for example, for the fact that
in NSV Dutch pronouns with animate referents cannot be neuter.

And finally, I analyze the way in which specification for [animate]
affects the syntactic distribution of nominal expressions. Adopting
Cardinaletti and Starke's (1999) analysis of pronoun deficiency, I
argue that in NSV Dutch, pronouns unspecified for [animate] have a
severely deficient formal feature structure, which causes them to move
to a higher syntactic position (specifically, to the functional head,
located above the ECM-subject) than do pronouns specified for

I argue that pronouns specified for [animate] have a mildly deficient
formal feature structure, causing them to stay below the ECM-subject
in a functional projection AnimateP, where they check animacy
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue