Volume 20, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171



The present paper aims at refining current knowledge about the so-called complexity principle as one of the driving forces in Dutch constituent ordering as well as re-evaluating the common assumption in traditional Dutch reference grammars that the middle field position is the standard slot for non-predicate PPs. Building on journalistic data in the Dutch Parallel Corpus, it is first shown that non-predicate PPs are significantly more often placed in postfield position (the structural position after the final verb cluster) than in middle field position (the position before the final verb cluster), which indicates that the postfield position rather than the middle field position should be considered the standard slot for PPs in written Dutch. Second, a binary logistic regression analysis is fitted in order to empirically test the complexity principle. The results show that the syntactic weight of the PP affects PP placement significantly, which is in line with was found earlier, but contrary to previous findings the weight of the middle field position itself has no significant effect and, interestingly, the interaction between PP weight and postfield weight appears to be a significant predictor too. On the basis of these findings, we propose a refined account of the complexity principle, in which both PP weight and postfield weight govern the positioning of non-predicate PPs in written Dutch.*


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