Language-specific tendencies towards morphological or syntactic constructions | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 22, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171



In this study, we present a corpus-based comparison of the use of intensifying constructions in written L1 Dutch () and written L1 French (). We subsequently discuss intensification in Dutch as a second language (L2 Dutch) by French-speaking learners (). The analysis adopts a constructional perspective (Goldberg 2006, Tomasello 2003) and aims to contrast French and Dutch preferences for morphological and syntactic intensifying constructions. Extending on the “Germanic Sandwich Hypothesis” (Van Haeringen 1956, Lamiroy 2011), we expect to find: i) more morphological intensifying constructions in Dutch, such as ‘elative’ compounds (e.g. ‘completely red’; Hoeksema 2012) and ii) more syntactic constructions in French, such as adverbial modification (e.g. ‘completely red’) and adjective reduplication (e.g. ‘completely red’). The present study thus serves a twofold purpose: investigating whether the synthetic vs. analytic character of Germanic vs Romance languages holds in the domain of intensification, and on a more applied level, it contributes to identifying possible difficulties for French-speaking learners of Dutch in this field. Our corpus study partly confirms the expected difference in the use of morphological intensifying constructions between L1 Dutch and L1 French, with significantly more morphological intensifying constructions in L1 Dutch than in L1 French. Adverbial modification remains the default intensifying construction in both languages however. Whilst L2 Dutch productions displayed an overuse of intensifying adverbs (partly due to the overuse of ‘all-round’ intensifiers such as ‘very’), the learners did however also use elative compounds, a typical Germanic intensifying construction.


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