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Journal Articles Natural Language and Linguistic Theory Year : 2023

Nominalization of clauses: The clausal prolepsis strategy


This paper explores the syntax of clausal prolepsis in Dutch, with a specific focus on object clausal prolepsis, the phenomenon where an object pronoun is linked to a CP that is situated at the right edge of the clause. The paper presents new evidence that distinguishes Dutch clausal prolepsis cases where the embedded CP conveys a familiar or a factive interpretation. Previous analyses of clausal prolepsis in other languages, such as German, have proposed two radically different syntactic structures to capture the meaning differences of these two cases. However, this paper proposes a more uniform syntactic structure that reconciles them. e proposed analysis considers clausal prolepsis to realize an underlying syntactic structure of a nominalized clause, similar to structures found in Greek, Persian, and Washo. is analysis captures the meaning differences straightforwardly expressed by clausal prolepsis, using a single lexical D-entry and independently attested structural components that can be merged with D. Furthermore, the proposed lexical entry can be extended to uses of the proleptic pronoun in different contexts, such as a definite D, thus avoiding accidental homophony. Additional advantages of the proposed analysis are that it can capture a new generalization describing with which predicates clausal prolepsis is possible in Dutch as well as other aspects of the distribution of clausal prolepsis such as that in Dutch, it is only allowed with verbs or infinitives, but not with nominals. From a theoretical standpoint, the proposed analysis teases apart factivity from familiarity and shows that familiarity does not arise through D but through nominal structure that can be merged with D. From an empirical perspective, the paper concludes that nominalization of a clause is more pervasive crosslinguistically than is usually assumed. Lastly, this study evaluates earlier accounts of clausal prolepsis and shows that those involving a CP base generated in an extraposed position, like the one in Bennis (1986), are not tenable. is is also true for other analyses taking the distribution of the prolepsed CP to be a consequence of phonological rules. Instead, the paper shows that the only necessary mechanism to explain the distribution of the prolepsed CP is Merge, in conjunction with standard assumptions regarding constituency structure.


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hal-04373835 , version 1 (05-01-2024)


  • HAL Id : hal-04373835 , version 1


Nikos Angelopoulos. Nominalization of clauses: The clausal prolepsis strategy. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 2023. ⟨hal-04373835⟩
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