5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Intonative Structure as a Determinant of Word Order Variation in Dutch Verbal Endgroups

Marc Swerts

IPO, Center for Research on User-System Interaction, The Netherlands

This paper looks into the question to what extent intonative structure determines word order variation in a particular type of syntactic structures in Dutch. Certain subordinate clauses in this language may contain verbal groups consisting of an auxiliary (aux) and a participle (part) that appear in sentence-final position. The order of these verbal elements is fundamentally free so that both aux+part and part+aux combinations occur. Analyses were based on a set of thirty spontaneous monologues, which contained 71 clauses with verbal endgroups, with the two orders about equally balanced. Distributional analyses revealed that prosodic features both inside the verbal group and in the immediately preceding and following contexts play a role in the choice for the two orders. First, a pitch accent on the participle mostly leads to a part+aux order. Second, an accent on the word immediately preceding the verbal endgroup under certain conditions favours an aux+part order, whereas a prosodic boundary after the endgroup favours a part+aux order. Results are discussed in terms of particular push principles, from the left and the right.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Swerts, Marc (1998): "Intonative structure as a determinant of word order variation in dutch verbal endgroups", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0267.