Het verval van het pronomen du - Dialectgeografie en de historische syntaxis | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171


From the 16th century onward, the 2nd person singular pronoun du ‘you’ has been replaced by new pronouns gij/jij/jii in many Dutch dialects. The standard explanation attributes the decline to the emerging honorific plural pronouns such as gij in singular use. However, this sociological explanation lacks predictive power: French, German and Frisian honorifics (vous, Sie, jo) did not cause disappearance of tu/du/dou, nor did they do so in various dialects in the Netherlands. Alternatively, language internal triggers have been proposed that situate the trigger in the verbal inflection, e.g. ‘deflection’. These proposals, however, suffer from similar defects. In this study the problem is approached with dialect geographic tools using the GTRP dialect database. A significant correlation is found between the disappearance of du and the rise of double present tense paradigms (direct and inverted). It is found that Zwart’s result of distinct spell-out of V in direct and inverted contexts is paralleled in pronoun spell-out: those dialects that do not have distinct verbal spell-out show distinct pronoun spell-out in direct and inverted contexts. By formulating position dependent spell-out rules, it can be shown that the transition of one dialect type to the other can be held responsible for the loss of the pronoun specific to specCP (du).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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