Partial Word Order Freezing in Dutch

Dutch allows for variation as to whether the first position in the sentence is occupied by the subject or by some other constituent, such as the direct object. In particular situations, however, this commonly observed variation in word order is ‘frozen’ and only the subject appears in first position. We hypothesize that this partial freezing of word order in Dutch can be explained from the dependence of the speaker’s choice of word order on the hearer’s interpretation of this word order. A formal model of this interaction between the speaker’s perspective and the hearer’s perspective is presented in terms of bidirectional Optimality Theory. Empirical predictions of this model regarding the interaction between word order and definiteness are confirmed by a quantitative corpus study.
Keywords Bidirectional Optimality Theory  Corpus study  Definiteness  Variation  Word order freezing
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DOI 10.1007/s10849-011-9145-x
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Jae Jung Song (2012). Word Order. Cambridge University Press.

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