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Show full table of contents Agentive er-nominalizations
[+]  I.  Complementation

This subsection discusses complementation of the most productive forms of agentive er-nominalization given in (162). We restrict ourselves to agentive er-nouns, since we have seen in Section, sub III, that non-agentive er-nouns do not inherit the arguments of the input verb, and may therefore be considered lexicalized.

Example 162
Main types of agentive er-nouns
a. Intransitive verb: zwemmer 'swimmer'
b. Transitive verb: maker 'maker'
c. Ditransitive verb: verteller 'narrator'
d. Verb with a prepositional complement: klager 'complainer'
e. Verb with an optional complementive: schilder 'painter'
[+]  A.  Er-nominalization of intransitive verbs

The agent argument of the input verb is not realized as a complement of the deverbal noun, but represented by the suffix -er of the noun; the derived verb actually denotes the agent of the input verb. As a result of this, er-nouns derived from intransitive verbs like zwemmen'to swim', do not select any PP-complement.

[+]  B.  Er-nominalization of transitive verbs

If the er-noun is derived from a transitive verb, the theme argument should be present, either explicitly or implicitly. Thus in the examples in (163), the theme arguments, which are realized as van-PPs, can be left out only if their referents are contextually recoverable.

Example 163
a. Jan is de maker van dit kunstwerk.
  Jan is the maker  of this work.of.art
b. Peter is de organisator van het toernooi.
  Peter is the organizer  of the tournament
c. Die ontwikkelaar van software is een kennis van mij.
  that developer  of software  is an acquaintance of me

      Theme arguments within the nominal domain typically appear postnominally in the form of a van-PP, but +human themes may sometimes also appear prenominally as a possessive pronoun or genitive noun phrase; see Section 5.2.2 for a detailed discussion of the restrictions on this option. Note in passing that the prenominal position is not available for inherited PP-complements with the thematic role of theme, as shown by the (b)-examples in (164).

Example 164
a. Hij heeft JanTheme ontdekt.
  he  has  Jan  discovered
a'. Jans/zijnTheme ontdekker
  Janʼs/his  discoverer
b. Wij geloven in onze leidersTheme.
  we  believe  in our leaders
b'. * hunTheme gelovers
  their  believers

That the prenominal elements are indeed the theme arguments can also be shown by the fact that they cannot co-occur with a van-PP fulfilling the same function: examples such as (165) only allow a possessive interpretation for Jans and mijn'my'.

Example 165
a. * JansTheme ontdekker van AmerikaTheme
  Janʼs  discoverer  of America
b. * mijnTheme bewonderaars van PicassoTheme
  my  admirers  of Picasso

      Note that simple person nouns behave in precisely the same manner as er-nouns derived from a transitive verb, provided that the semantic relation between the head noun and its complement is similar to that holding between the verb and its complement. Often these nouns are (near-)synonyms of derived deverbal nouns as is shown for auteur'author' and schrijver'writer' in (166a), and architect'architect' and ontwerper'designer' in (166b).

Example 166
a. Ik ken de auteur/schrijver van dit boek.
  know  the author/writer  of this book
b. Hij is de architect/ontwerper van dat gebouw.
  he  is the architect/designer  of that building

Since the nouns auteur and architect in (166) are not derived, these similarities cannot be accounted for in terms of inheritance: we are simply dealing here with relational nouns. The inherent relation between the noun and its related argument therefore finds its origin in the meaning of the noun itself; cf. Section 2.2.2.

[+]  C.  Er-nominalization of ditransitive verbs

The examples in (167) show that constructions with ditransitive verbs can normally take two forms: one with the recipient appearing as a noun phrase, which normally precedes the theme, and one with the recipient taking the form of an aan-PP, which generally follows the theme.

Example 167
a. Peter schenkt het museumRec een Van GoghTheme.
  Peter donates  the museum  a Van Gogh
a'. Peter schenkt een Van GoghTheme aan het museumRec.
  Peter donates  a Van Gogh  to the museum
b. Els vertelt haar vriendenRec sterke verhalenTheme.
  Els  tells  her friends  strong stories
  'Els is telling her friends tall stories.'
b'. Els vertelt sterke verhalenTheme aan haar vriendenRec.
  Els tells  strong stories  to her friends

The theme argument of the corresponding er-noun cannot be expressed prenominally in the form of a prenominal possessive pronoun or genitive noun phrase, but appears as an obligatory postnominal van-PP. This may be related to the fact that the theme of a ditransitive verb is normally inanimate, but even if the theme is +human, as in (168), prenominal realization of the theme is excluded.

Example 168
a. Peter stelde Jan aan Marie voor
  Peter introduced  Jan to Marie  prt.
  'Peter introduces Jan to Marie.'
b. * Jans/zijn voorsteller aan Marie
  Janʼs/his introducer  to Marie

      The recipient argument of the er-noun is realized as an aan-PP, and can normally be left out, just like the recipient in the corresponding verbal construction; in fact, constructions with a realized theme feel somewhat heavy, and there is some preference to not realize the recipient.

Example 169
a. de schenker van een Van GoghTheme ?(aan het museumRec)
  the contributor  of a Van Gogh    to the museum
b. de vertelster van sterke verhalenTheme ?(aan haar vriendenRec)
  the tellerfem  of strong stories    to her friends

Although recipient arguments are typically +human, they never appear as a prenominal genitive noun phrase/possessive pronoun. The following constructions, headed by er-nouns derived from ditransitive verbs, are therefore ungrammatical.

Example 170
a. * zijnRec schenker (van geldTheme)
  his  contributor   of money
b. * zijnRec vertelster (van sterke verhalenTheme)
  his  tellerfem   of strong stories
c. * hunRec betaler van een goed loonTheme
  their  payer  of good wages

A potential problem for the claim that recipient arguments must be realized as aan-PPs is that the noun donateur seems to occur with a recipient expressed by a van-PP or a possessive pronoun: Jan is donateur van onze voetbalclub'Jan is contributor to our football club'; onze donateurs'our contributors'. This may, however, only be apparent given that the van-PP functions rather as an adjunct with the role of possessor. In fact, the relation is one of pseudo-possession: although it is possible to say De club heeft donateurs'The club has contributors', the verb hebben'to have' cannot be replaced by the lexically more specific verb bezitten'to own', which is possible in prototypical cases of possession: Jan heeft/bezit een fiets'Jans has/owns a bike'. This may also explain why the construction does not pass the second adjunct/complement test (*De donateur is van de voetbalvereniging) as occurrence of the van-PP in postcopular predicative position requires a true possessor relation.
      For the sake of completeness it needs to be mentioned that, although at first sight the ditransitive verb betalen'to pay' seems to have the same argument structure as other ditransitive verbs, there is a difference with regard to complementation, which also affects the form of the complement of the derived er-noun betaler. First, the examples in (171) show that, as with all (di-)transitive verbs, passivization is possible with the theme being assigned nominative case, as in (171b), and that the theme can be premodified by the past participle, as in (171c).

Example 171
a. Het bedrijf betaalt dit loon aan de werknemers.
  the company  pays  these wages  to the employees
b. Dit loon wordt (aan) de werknemers betaald.
  these wages  are  to the employees  paid
c. het (aan de werknemers) betaalde loon
  the  to the employees  paid  wages

However, the examples in (172) show that, in the absence of the theme dit loon'these wages', it is also possible to promote the recipient to subject in the passive construction and to have the recipient argument premodified by the participle. In other words, the recipient acts as a regular direct object in (172).

Example 172
a. Het bedrijf betaalt de werknemers.
  the company  pays  the employees
b. De werknemers worden betaald.
  the employees  are  paid
c. de betaalde werknemers
  the paid employees

The constructions in (172) are perfectly acceptable because the implied theme is fully recoverable: even without further context, the missing theme will be interpreted as the employees’ wages. The most likely analysis of the constructions in (171) and (172) is therefore one in which two separate forms of the verb betalen are distinguished. The most common form is that of a ditransitive verb, with a theme and a recipient complement, and with the general meaning of “to pay”, while alongside there is a less frequent monotransitive form, with only a theme complement, and with the more specific meaning of “paying wages”; see Section V3.2.1.3, sub IIC3 for more discussion of this type of verb.
      A similar distinction can be discerned with the derived noun betaler'payer' in (173). Example (173a) corresponds in meaning to (171), where the verb is used ditransitively, and the theme and recipient argument are expressed by a van- and an aan-PP, respectively. Example (173b), on the other hand, corresponds in meaning to (172), where the (apparent) recipient acts as the direct object of the verb, and correspondingly the recipient argument must appear in the form of a van-PP; the aan-PP is not acceptable in this example.

Example 173
a. de betaler van het loon (aan de werknemers)
  the payer  of the wages   to the employees
b. de betaler van/*aan de werknemers
  the payer  of/to the employees

The verb voeren'to feed' behaves in a similar fashion as betalen. Accordingly, both the theme and the recipient of the verb can appear in the form of a van-PP in the corresponding er-nominalization, as shown in the primed examples in (174).

Example 174
a. Jan voert brood aan de eendjes.
  Jan feeds  bread  to the ducklings
a'. de voerder van het brood
  the feeder  of the ducklings
b. Jan voert de eendjes.
  Jan feed the ducklings
b'. de voerder van/*aan de eendjes
  the feeder  of the ducklings
[+]  D.  Er-nominalization of verbs selecting a PP-theme

Example (175) provides some examples of er-nouns derived from verbs selecting a PP-theme. Whether or not the presence of the PP is required seems to be determined largely by the behavior of the base verb in this respect: as shown in the primed examples, the verb lijden'to suffer' seems to prefer the presence of a complement, whereas klagen'to complain' can be used very well without one.

Example 175
a. De lijder *?(aan pleinvrees) werd door een psychiater behandeld.
  the sufferer    from agoraphobia  was  by a psychiatrist  treated
  'The sufferer from agoraphobia was treated by a psychiatrist.'
a'. Hij leed gisteren nog *?(aan pleinvrees).
  he suffered  yesterday  prt     from agoraphobia
  'He was still suffering from agoraphobia only yesterday.'
b. De klagers (over het oponthoud) werden beleefd te woord gestaan.
  the complainers   about the delay  were  politely  answered
  'The complainers about the long delay were answered politely.'
b'. De reizigers klagen steeds (over het lange oponthoud).
  the travelers  complain  continuously   about  the long delay
  'The travelers are complaining continuously about the long delay.'

The assumption that the presence of the PP-complement is the result of inheritance and as such part of the argument structure of the derived noun is supported by the examples in (176) and (177), in which the PPs are adjuncts and not complements of the verb. Since the verb schilderen in (176a) is not subcategorized for an instrument-PP, this PP cannot be inherited; example (176b) can therefore only be interpreted as “a painter who does not have any brushes” (in which case the PP is a modifier of the noun), not as “a person who paints without brushes” (where the PP would be an inherited argument).

Example 176
a. Hij schildert zonder kwasten.
  he  paints  without brushes
b. # een schilder zonder kwasten
  a painter  without brushes

Similarly, the PP met de trein'by train' in (177a) is an adjunct and not a PP-complement of the verb reizen'to travel'; as a result, it cannot appear as the complement of the derived noun reiziger'traveler' in (177b) either.

Example 177
a. Hij reist met de trein.
  he  travels  with the train
  'He travels by train.'
b. * een reiziger met de trein
  a traveler  with the train
[+]  E.  Er-nominalization taking a complementive

Er-nominalization is not possible with constructions involving a complementive. This is illustrated by means of the transitive resultative constructions in example (178). That it is indeed the presence of the predicative adjective that causes the ungrammaticality of the er-noun is clear from the fact that in (178b) the verb in question can be input to er-nominalization if the complementive is not present.

Example 178
er-nouns derived from transitive verbs taking a complementive
a. Els schildert de deur (groen).
  Els paints  the door   green
b. de schilder van de deur *(groen)
  the painter  of the door     green

Example (179) shows that the restriction also applies to intransitive verbs: example (178b) is only acceptable if the predicate is not expressed; the fact that the noun phrase zijn schoenen cannot be expressed either in (178b) is due to the fact that it is not an argument of the verb in (178a), but only semantically licensed as the logical subject of the complementive; see Section V2.2 for a more detailed discussion of verbs taking a complementive.

Example 179
er-nouns derived from intransitive verbs taking a complementive
a. Jan loopt (zijn schoenen kapot).
  Jan walks   his shoes  worn.out
  'Jan is wearing his shoes out.'
b. een loper *(van zijn schoenen kapot)
  a walker     of his shoes  worn.out
[+]  F.  Conclusion

The previous subsections have discussed the inheritance by agentive er-nouns of the argument structure of their input verb. Generally speaking, it turns out that the internal arguments of the input verb become complements of the derived noun; the external (agent) argument is not inherited but denoted by the er-noun itself. This means that, in the case of a transitive base verb, er-nouns have an argument structure with a slot for a theme argument, which is typically realized as a van-PP, or, alternatively, as a possessive pronoun or a genitive noun phrase (with the suffix -s) in prenominal position. If the base verb is ditransitive, the recipient argument is (usually optionally) added as a postnominal aan-PP. PP-themes can also be inherited, in which case the preposition selected by the input verb is also used in the er-nominalization. These findings are summarized in Table 5.

Table 5: The form and position of the complements of er-nominalizations
type of input verb form and position of the complement(s) examples
Transitive er-noun + van-PPTheme de bewonderaar van Marie
the admirer of Marie
  NPs/pronounTheme +
Maries/haar bewonderaar
Marieʼs/her admirer
Ditransitive er-noun + van-PPTheme (+ aan-PPRec) de gever van het boek (aan de kinderen)
the giver of the book to the children
PP-theme er-noun + PPTheme de jager op herten
the hunter of deer

[+]  II.  Application of the complement/adjunct tests

The preceding subsection has shown that er-nouns typically combine with PPs that correspond to the arguments of the input verb. However, since in many cases complements and adjuncts are not formally distinguished within the noun phrase, it is conceivable that some of these PPs are adjuncts. This subsection therefore applies the four tests that have been proposed in Section 2.2.1 to distinguish complements and adjuncts within the noun phrase to er-nominalizations. The results of these tests indicate that the PPs in question should be regarded as complements of the noun.

[+]  A.  Obligatoriness of PP

Generally speaking, er-nouns derived from transitive verbs are normally not interpretable without the addition of the inherited theme argument: in (180) the inf-nouns maker'maker' and bedenker'designer' normally require the presence of a theme complement. The double-cross in the primed examples indicates that the theme arguments can be left out in certain contexts, to which we return below.

Example 180
a. Jan is de maker van dit kunstwerk.
  Jan is the maker  of this work.of.art
a'. Jan is *een/#de maker.
  Jan is a/the maker
b. Peter is de bedenker van dit plan.
  Peter is the designer  of this plan
b'. Peter is *een/#de bedenker.
  Peter is a/the designer

      Er-nouns derived from ditransitive verbs inherit both complements of the verb: the noun schenker'donor' in (181) must be related to the theme and the recipient argument in order to be interpretable. Example (181a) shows, however, that just like in the corresponding verbal construction the recipient can often be left implicit. The double-cross in (181b) again indicates that the theme argument can be left out in certain contexts. Example (181c), finally, shows that the theme argument cannot be left unexpressed if the recipient is overtly expressed.

Example 181
a. Els is de schenker van dit grote bedrag (aan onze kerk).
  Els is the donat-or  of this large sum  to our church
b. Els is *een/#de schenker.
  Els is a/the donat-or
c. * Els is de schenker aan onze kerk.

      Where the er-noun is derived from a verb selecting a PP-object, the inherited PP is also obligatory, as illustrated in example (182a&b). An exception is formed by fully lexicalized er-nouns like jager'hunter' in example (182c).

Example 182
a. Lijders *(aan pleinvrees) moeten worden behandeld.
  sufferers  from agoraphobia  must  be  treated
b. Klagers *(over het lange oponthoud) werden vriendelijk behandeld.
  complainers     about the long delay  were  politely  treated
  'Complainers about the long delay were treated politely.'
c. De jagers (op groot wild) werden door de politie gearresteerd.
  the hunters   on big game  were  by the police  arrested
  'The hunters (of big game) were arrested by the police.'

      Although the inherited argument must normally be overtly expressed by means of a PP, there are a number of contexts in which the PP-complement can (or even must) be left out. In what follows each of these situations will be briefly discussed.

[+]  1.  Recoverability from the context

The absence of the argument can be the result of ellipsis. This is possible whenever the referent of the argument can be assumed to be recoverable from the linguistic or non-linguistic context. For example, in (183a) the theme argument of the er-noun maker can be recovered from the preceding sentence and in example (184a) leaving out the van-PP will be acceptable if the speaker and the addressee are looking at or discussing a particular painting.

Example 183
a. Het schilderij wordt daar tentoongesteld. De maker zal aanwezig zijn.
  the painting  is  there  exhibited  the maker  will  present  be
  'The painting will be exhibited tomorrow. The maker will be present.'
b. Het toernooi was een groot succes. De organisator was erg in zijn nopjes.
  the tournament  was a big success.  the organizer  was very pleased
c. Er is een audioboek van De avonden; de verteller is de schrijver zelf.
  there  is an audio book of  De avonden  the teller  is the writer himself
Example 184
a. Ken jij de maker (van dat schilderij)?
  know  you  the painter   of that painting
  'Do you know the maker (of that painting)?'
b. Wie is de organisator (van dit toernooi)?
  who  is the organizer  of this tournament
[+]  2.  Generic contexts

Deverbal er-nouns can occur without an argument if used generically. In that case, there is no specific entity that functions as the theme: although the presence of a theme is still implied, its nature or identity is deemed irrelevant. In (185a), for instance, it is implied that Jan is a giver of something; no indication is given, however, of what this something might be. Likewise, in (185b), the reference is to “whoever oppresses”; the identity of the oppressed is not relevant in the given context.

Example 185
a. Jan is meer een gever dan een nemer.
  Jan is more  a giver  than a taker
b. Onderdrukkers moeten geboycot worden.
  oppressors  must  boycotted  be
[+]  3.  Habitual contexts

Er-nouns do not take a PP-complement if they are given a habitual interpretation. In this case, the loss of adicity has probably taken place before the application of er-nominalization, that is, it is the base verb rather than the er-noun that has lost its argument. Since in most cases the original, transitive form of the base verb can also be input to the nominalization process, the derived nouns may have to be given two different representations. Examples are verbs like roken'to smoke', drinken'to drink' and eten'to eat', which have both a transitive and a pseudo-intransitive (habitual) form. The transitive verb roken in (186a), for instance, denotes an activity and the deverbal noun roker in (186a') has inherited its theme argument. The pseudo-intransitive verb roken in (186b), however, has the meaning “to be in the habit of smoking” and lacks a(n overtly expressed) theme argument; the deverbal noun roker in (186b') can also be assigned this habitual reading provided that there is no van-PP present.

Example 186
a. rokenV (Agent, Theme): Jan rookt altijd sigaren.
  to smoke  Jan smokes always cigars
a'. rokerN (Theme): Jan is een roker van sigaren.
  smoker  Jan is a smoker of cigars
b. rokenV (Agent): Peter rookt.
  to smoke  Peter smokes
b'. rokerN: Peter is een roker.
  smoke  Peter is a smoker

The presence of a restrictive modifier may sometimes facilitate the use of er-nouns without a theme argument. In most cases, the presence of these modifiers triggers a generic or habitual reading.

Example 187
a. Jan is een gulle gever.
  Jan is a liberal giver
b. Marie is een zware roker.
  Marie is a heavy smoker
[+]  4.  Lexicalized er-nouns denoting, e.g., a profession or function

Quite a large number of er-nouns, although originally derived from a transitive verb, are not able to combine with a postnominal van-PP. This holds especially for deverbal er-nouns denoting professions or functions like bakker'baker', kapper'hairdresser', visser'fisher', verhuizer'mover', naaister'seamstress', schilder'painter/decorator', or aannemer'contractor'.

Example 188
a. Jan bakt brood.
  Jan bakes  bread
a'. Jan is bakker (??van brood).
  Jan is baker     of bread
b. Marie neemt opdrachten aan.
  Marie takes  assignments  prt.
b'. Marie is aannemer (*van opdrachten).
  Marie is contractor     of assignments
c. Peter kapt Jans haar.
  Peter cuts  Janʼs hair
c'. Peter is kapper (*van Jans haar).
  Peter is hairdresser      of Janʼs hair

The fact that these er-nouns can no longer be realized with a complement shows that we are not dealing with some form of ellipsis: they are, rather, lexicalized, as a result of which they have lost their argument structure. This is also supported by the fact that they have often gained a specialized meaning and may have lost any direct relation to the base verb. This becomes clear from the fact that sentences (188c&c') do not have the same meaning. The fact that someone has cut my hair does not make him a hairdresser. Nor does a hairdresser necessarily cut peopleʼs hair; he or she may have the qualifications, without actually practicing the profession. Sometimes, however, an er-noun can either be used as a lexicalized noun or as a derived noun complemented by an inherited argument; this is illustrated by (189) for the er-noun vertegenwoordiger'salesman'.

Example 189
a. Jan is vertegenwoordiger.
  Jan is salesman
  'Jan is a salesman.'
b. Jan is de vertegenwoordiger van onze afdeling.
  Jan is the representative  of our department

      Sometimes, whether a certain er-noun should be interpreted as a lexicalized or as a derived form depends on the nature of the complement of the van-phrase. Despite the fact that the theme argument in (190a) can be either a definite noun phrase (headed by a count noun) or an indefinite phrase (headed by a substance noun), only the former leads to a fully acceptable result: the noun phrase de bakker van brood feels as a tautology, which suggests that we are actually dealing with the lexicalized profession noun.

Example 190
a. Jan heeft [NP deze broden]/[NPbrood] gebakken.
  Jan has  these loafs of bread/bread  baked
  'Jan has baked these loafs of bread/bread.'
b. de bakker van [NP deze broden]/[[NP??brood]
  the baker  of  these loafs of bread/bread

      Some profession nouns are related to transitive verbs that have a pseudo-intransitive (habitual) counterpart. An example is schilderen'to paint' in (191): the transitive form in (191a) simply denotes the action of painting, and has no implications for whether Jan is a decorator or an artist; the intransitive form in (191b), on the other hand, can only mean that Peter is an artist. In contrast to this, the lexicalized er-noun schilder can have both meanings, which is due to the fact that the loss of argument structure has neutralized the difference between the two corresponding verbs.

Example 191
a. Jan schildert het huis/een landschap.
Jan is a decorator/artistic painter
  Jan paint  the house/a landscape
b. Jan schildert.
Jan is an artistic painter
  Jan paints
c. Jan is schilder.
Jan is a decorator/artistic painter
  Jan is painter

      There are also lexicalized er-nouns derived from ditransitive verbs. This is illustrated in example (192) for the noun onderwijzer'teacher': the theme argument of the input verb cannot be realized as a postnominal van-PP. Note that the loss of adicity must have taken place after er-nominalization, as the input verbs of these nouns do require a theme argument.

Example 192
a. Peter onderwijst (de kinderen) wiskunde.
  Peter  teaches  the children  mathematics
b. * Peter is onderwijzer van wiskunde (aan deze kinderen).
  Peter is teacher  of mathematics   to these children
  'Peter is a teacher.'

The noun leraar'teacher' behaves more or less like onderwijzer'teacher', but is special in that it can be complemented by means of a nonspecific bare noun expressing the theme argument.

Example 193
a. Jan leert (de kinderen) wiskunde.
  Jan teaches  the children  mathematics
b. * Jan is leraar van wiskunde (aan deze kinderen).
  Jan is teacher  of mathematics   to these children
b'. Jan is leraar wiskunde.
  Jan is teacher mathematics

      The fact that lexicalized er-nouns cannot be followed by a van-PP expressing the theme of the corresponding input verb does not mean that they cannot be modified by a van-PP; this is possible if the van-PP is interpreted as the possessor and refers to. for example, the baker my parents buy their bread from or even the bakerʼs shop where they buy their bread. That we are dealing with a possessive relation can be supported by the fact that example (194a) is more or less equivalent to (194b); Subsection I has shown that recipients can never be realized as a prenominal possessive pronoun or genitive noun phrase. It is also clear from the fact that the van-PP can (at least marginally) occur in postcopular position.

Example 194
a. de bakker van mijn ouders
  the bakerʼs  of my parents
b. hun/?mijn oudersʼ bakker
  their/my parentsʼ  baker
c. ? Die bakker is van mijn ouders.
  that bakerʼs  is of my parents
  'That is my parentsʼ baker.'

Similarly, although example (195a) will be interpreted as the person teaching Jan a certain subject, we seem again to be dealing with a possessive relation: the proper noun Jan may occur as a genitive noun phrase and the PP van Jan can occur in postcopular position.

Example 195
a. de leraar van JanPoss/JansPoss leraar
  the teacher  of Jan/Janʼs teacher
b. Dat is Jans/zijn leraar.
  that  is Janʼs/his teacher
c. (?) Deze leraar is van JanPoss.
  this teacher  is of Jan
  'This is Janʼs teacher.'
[+]  5.  Compound er-nouns (incorporation)

As a general rule, complementation by means of a thematic van-PP is not possible once an element has been incorporated into an er-noun. As will be shown, this is true regardless of the function of this element (as complement or adjunct, theme or non-theme).

[+]  a.  Incorporation of theme

If a theme argument of an er-noun has nonspecific reference, it may also be incorporated, in which case it forms a compound with the er-noun. Examples are such lexicalized forms as wiskundeleraar'math teacher' and banketbakker'confectioner' in (196).

Example 196
a. wiskundeleraar
  math teacher
b. banketbakker

Incorporation of the theme is a very productive mechanism, applying not only to the lexicalized cases in (196) but also to er-nominalizations in general, and in all these cases, the theme cannot be expressed by means of a van-PP. In other words, if a theme argument is incorporated, the syntactic postnominal position is no longer available, which is in keeping with the principle that thematic roles can be assigned only once.

Example 197
a. televisiekijker (*van documentaires)
  T.V. watcher     of documentaries
b. krantenlezer (*van columns)
  newspaper reader     of columns
c. marathonloper (*van lange afstanden)
  marathon runner      of long distances
d. systeemontwikkelaar (*van software)
  systems developer     of software
e. aandeelhouder (*van toegangskaarten)
  stockholder     of admission tickets

These compound nouns may become lexicalized to various degrees, which may be reflected in that some of these compounds can no longer alternate with a construction in which the theme is expressed as an argument. Two examples are given in (198).

Example 198
a. druktemaker
cf. *maker van drukte
  'show off/fuss pot'
b. herrieschopper
cf. *schopper van herrie

Observe that whereas one might argue that the noun herrieschopper is straightforwardly derived from the verb herrieschoppen'to raise hell', this is not readily possible for the noun druktemaker given that there is no corresponding verb drukte maken'to show off', albeit that the second, less common, meaning of “fuss pot” is shared by the idiomatic expression drukte maken om ...'to make a fuss about ...'.
      As in the case of schilder in example (176), the postnominal position of er-nouns with an incorporated theme is not only blocked for theme arguments, but also for manner and place adjuncts. This is illustrated by the ungrammaticality of the constructions in (199): (199a) cannot be used to refer to the person who makes shoes with a machine, only to the person with a machine; similarly, the relation in (199b) can only hold between the er-noun as a whole and the PP (a person in California), not between the underlying base verb kweken'grow' and the PP.

Example 199
a. # de schoenmaker met een machine
  the shoemaker  with a machine
b. # de boomkweker in Californië
  the tree grower  in California

Apparently, the process of incorporation has the same effect as the lexicalization of er-nouns like kapper'hairdresser' and leraar'teacher', as illustrated in examples (188) and (193): in both cases the postnominal position is no longer available for constituents (whether complements or adjuncts) that enter into a semantic relation with the base verb. This is not surprising given that in many cases incorporation of a theme argument results in an er-noun that denotes a profession or an occupation.

[+]  b.  Incorporation of other elements

Incorporation of the arguments of er-nouns is not restricted to theme arguments, but is also possible with other types of constituents. Some examples are given in the table in example (200).

Example 200
er-nouns with an incorporated element (non-theme)
base verb er-nominalization type of relation
gaan‘to go’ kerkganger‘churchgoer’ direction
reizen‘to travel’ treinreiziger‘train passenger’ means
tekenen‘to draw’ sneltekenaar‘cartoonist’ manner (lit.: fast drawer)
roven‘to rob’ straatrover‘street robber’ location
schilderen‘to paint’ voetschilder‘foot painter’ instrument
schilderen‘to paint’ winterschilder‘winter decorator’ time
schrijven‘to write’ broodschrijver‘bread writer’ purpose

As might be expected, the presence of an incorporated adjunct blocks the postnominal realization of an adjunct of the same type. This is illustrated in example (201).

Example 201
a. * een kerkganger naar onze kerk
  a churchgoer  to our church
b. * een treinreiziger met de Thalys
  a train passenger  with the Thalys
c. * een winterschilder in januari
  a winter decorator  in January

Interestingly, these incorporated adjuncts not only exclude adjuncts of the same type from postnominal position, but also exclude the possibility of postnominal realization of a theme argument. Thus, as shown by example (202), in those cases in which the incorporated constituent is a (manner, location, etc.) adjunct, the syntactic position for the theme is also blocked.

Example 202
a. * de sneltekenaar van deze portretten
  the fast drawer  of these portraits
  'the cartoonist who made these portraits'
b. * de straatrover van die appels
  a street robber  of those apples
c. * de voetschilder van dit landschap
  the foot painter  of this landscape
d. * de winterschilder van deze raamkozijnen
  a winter decorator  of these window.frames
e. * de broodschrijver van die kinderboeken
  a bread writer  of those childrenʼs books

      Potential counterexamples to the claim that compounds cannot have a theme argument expressed by means of a van-PP are compound nouns like wegbereider'pioneer' in (203a). However, example (203a) differs from the ones in (201) and (202) in that the van-PP is not the theme of an underlying verb bereiden but of the idiomatic verbal expression de weg bereiden voor'prepare the way for'; cf. (203b). It may therefore be that wegbereider is the result of nominalization of this complex expression, and that the van-PP is inherited from the complex verbal expression.

Example 203
a. Hij was een van de wegbereiders van het socialisme.
  he  was one of the pioneers  of the socialism
  'He was one of the pioneers of socialism.'
b. Hij bereidde de weg voor het socialisme.
  he prepared  the way  for the socialism

However, this would run afoul of the fact that the PPs in (203) are headed by different prepositions. We have seen that inheritance of PP-complements preserves the choice of the preposition; cf. the examples in (175). This suggests that we are dealing with a lexicalized compound, which would in fact be the only option for the er-noun grondlegger'founder' in (204a) given that there is no complex verbal expression that could be the input for this compound; cf. the unacceptability of (204b). The van-PP therefore must be a non-inherited theme argument of the lexicalized compound grondlegger.

Example 204
a. Hij is de grondlegger van de kernfysica.
  he  is the founder  of the nuclear physics
  'He is the founder of nuclear physics.'
b. * Hij legde de grond voor de kernfysica.
  he  laid  the ground  for the nuclear physics
[+]  c.  Nonspecific van-PPs

Although er-nouns with incorporated elements normally block the presence of a theme argument, this does not hold for theme arguments with generic or nonspecific reference; the constructions in (205a&b) are perfectly acceptable, provided that the elements portretten'portraits' and landschappen'landscapes' do not refer to specific objects, but function to specify the kind of cartoonist or foot-painter we are dealing with. In fact, this use of nonspecific postnominal van-PPs is not restricted to er-nouns involving incorporation, but occurs with habitual or professional er-nouns in general: the van-PP in example (205c) does not refer to a particular set of books that Jan has written, but to the type of book he normally writes.

Example 205
a. een sneltekenaar (van portretten)
  a fast drawer   of portraits
  'a cartoonist specialized in portraits'
b. een voetschilder (van landschappen)
  a foot painter   of landscapes
  'a foot painter specialized in landscapes'
c. Jan is een schrijver (van kinderboeken).
  Jan is a writer  of childrenʼs books

The fact that the nonspecific postnominal van-PPs are not required raises the question as to whether they should actually be seen as inherited theme arguments in these cases; it suggests that the er-nouns have become fully lexicalized and that the van-PP functions instead as an adjunct to the head noun. This suggestion seems to be supported by the fact that the PPs in (205) and their specific counterparts differ in behavior. Consider the examples in (206), which show that a regular deverbal er-noun like tekenaar'drawer' can take a specific theme argument in postnominal position. If the definite article is used, as in (206a), the implication is that Peter was the only artist involved in drawing the portrait; use of the indefinite article in (206b), on the other hand, implies that more artists were involved. Example (206c) shows that, in either case, the van-PP can be preposed.

Example 206
a. Peter is de tekenaar van dit portret.
  Peter is the drawer  of this portrait
  'Peter is the drawer of this portrait.'
b. Peter is een tekenaar van dit portret.
  Peter is a drawer  of this portrait
  'Peter is one of the drawers of this portrait.'
c. Van dit portret is Peter een/de tekenaar.
  of this portrait  is Peter a/the drawer

As soon as the er-noun contains an incorporated element, as in sneltekenaar'cartoonist' in (207a), the use of a specific theme argument becomes impossible. Example (207b) further shows that with a nonspecific theme, the use of the indefinite article no longer forces a reading in which more than one artist is involved, while the use of a definite article is only felicitous if more identifying information is available in the (linguistic or non-linguistic) context. Finally, (207c) shows that the nonspecific van-PP cannot be preposed.

Example 207
a. * Peter is een/de sneltekenaar van dit portret.
  Peter is a/the fast drawer of this portrait
b. Peter is een/#de sneltekenaar van portretten.
  Peter is a/the fast drawer  of portraits
  'Peter is a cartoonist who draws portraits.'
c. * Van portretten is Peter een/de sneltekenaar.
  of portraits  is Peter a/the fast-drawer

These differences between the constructions in (206) and (207) support the idea that the specific and nonspecific van-PPs are different in the sense that we are dealing with inherited arguments in the former, but with adjuncts in the latter case.

[+]  B.  Occurrence of the PP in postcopular predicative position

According to the second test, only adjunct van-PPs can occur in postcopular predicative position; complement PPs in this position lead to unacceptable results. The ungrammaticality of the transitive examples in (208) therefore suggests that the postnominal van-PPs of agentive er-nouns are indeed arguments.

Example 208
a. de maker van dit schilderij
  the maker  of this painting
a'. * De maker is van dit schilderij.
  the maker  is of this painting
b. de schrijver van deze boeken
  the writer  of these books
b'. * De schrijver is van deze boeken.
  the writer  is of these books
c. de ontdekker van Tasmanië
  the discoverer  of Tasmania
c'. * De ontdekker is van Tasmanië.
  the discoverer  is of Tasmania

Application of this test to er-nominalizations derived from ditransitive verbs yields similar results. Here, too, placement of the van-PP in postcopular position is excluded, as exemplified in (209).

Example 209
a. de gever van het cadeau
  the giver  of the present
a'. * De gever is van het cadeau.
  the giver  is of the present
b. de schenker van het geld
  the contributor  of the money
b'. * De schenker is van het geld.
  the contributor  is of the money
c. de vertelster van verhalen
  the teller  of stories
c'. * De vertelster is van verhalen.
  the tellerfem  is of stories
[+]  C.  R-pronominalization

The R-pronominalization test suggests that the van-PPs following er-nouns derived from transitive verbs behave like complements: the examples in (210) show that they allow R-pronominalization.

Example 210
a. Ik ontmoette gisteren de maker van het schilderij/ervan.
  met  yesterday  the maker  of the painting/of.it
b. De organisator van het toernooi/ervan was erg in zijn nopjes.
  the organizer  of the tournament/of.it  was very  pleased
c. De vertelster van die verhalen/ervan heeft een grote verbeeldingskracht.
  the tellerfem  of those stories/of.them  has  a great power of imagination

Section 2.2.1, sub IV, has shown that using the split version of the pronominal PP normally leads to a marked result. The examples in (211) show, however, that with er-nouns, use of the split version is often fully acceptable. This may support the suggestion in Subsection D that many of the apparent cases of extraction of van-PP actually involve cases with an independent restrictive adverbial phrase.

Example 211
a. Jan is de maker van dit schilderij.
  Jan is the maker  of this painting
a'. Jan is <er> de maker <er> van.
  Jan is there  the maker  of
b. Peter is de organisator van het toernooi.
  Peter is the organizer of the tournament
b'. Peter is <er> de organisator <er> van.
  Peter is there  the organizer  of

      Application of R-pronominalization to constructions involving a ditransitive base verb yields similar results: example (212a) is acceptable both with the split and the unsplit pattern, provided that the recipient is not expressed. Example (212b) shows that R-pronominalization is only marginally possible with recipient arguments, and requires that the pronominal PP be unsplit.

Example 212
a. Els is <er> de schenker <er> van (*aan de kerk).
  Els  is there  the giver  of     to the church
  'Santa Claus is the giver of it (not the receiver).'
b. Els is <*er> de schenker (van geld) <??er> aan.
  Els is there  the donor  of money  to

      Application of the R-pronominalization test to inherited PPs with prepositions other than van yields somewhat equivocal results. The examples in (213) show that R-pronominalization may lead to marked constructions, although it is certainly not impossible given the right context (that is, one in which the pronominalized part is the discourse topic), especially if the head noun is given contrastive accent. Note that only the constructions with the unsplit form are acceptable.

Example 213
a. De politie heeft de jagers op ons groot wild gearresteerd.
  the police  has  the hunters  on our big game  arrested
a'. De politie <*er> heeft de jagers <??er> op gearresteerd.
  the police  there  has  the hunter  on  arrested
b. De arts heeft alle lijders aan deze ziekte behandeld.
  the doctor  has  all sufferers  from this disease  treated
b'. De arts <*er> heeft alle lijders <?er> aan behandeld.
  the doctor  there  has  all sufferers  from  treated
c. Veel luisteraars naar dit programma klaagden over de slechte ontvangst.
  many listeners  to this program  complained  about the poor reception
  'Many listeners to this program complained about the poor reception.'
c'. ? Veel luisteraars ernaar klaagden over de slechte ontvangst.
  many listeners  there-to  complained  about the poor reception
d. Klagers over de slechte ontvangst kregen een vriendelijk antwoord.
  complainers  about the poor reception  received  a friendly answer
d'. ? Alle klagers erover kregen een vriendelijk antwoord.
  all complainers  there-about  received  a friendly answer
e. Oprechte gelovers in de wereldvrede zijn zeldzaam.
  sincere believers  in the world peace  are rare
e'. ?? Oprechte gelovers erin zijn zeldzaam.
  sincere believers  there-in  are  rare
[+]  D.  Extraction of PP

The examples in (214) and (215) suggest that PP-extraction of a theme argument is possible with er-nouns, although the results are somewhat marked. The slightly degraded status that results from extraction is surprising given that the first three tests give a positive result as far as complement status of the van-PP is concerned.

Example 214
Test 4A: Topicalization
a. Ik heb de maker van dit schilderij ontmoet.
  have  the maker  of this painting met
  'Iʼve met the maker of this painting.'
a'. ? Van dit schilderij heb ik de maker ontmoet.
b. Ik heb de organisator van dit toernooi gesproken.
  have  the organizer  of this tournament  talked
  'Iʼve talked to the organizer of this tournament.'
b'. ? Van dit toernooi heb ik de organisator gesproken.
c. Ik bewonder de vertelster van die sterke verhalen.
  I admire  the tellerfem  of these strong stories
c'. ?? Van die sterke verhalen bewonder ik de vertelster.
Example 215
Test 4B: Relativization and questioning
a. ? het schilderij waarvan ik de maker heb ontmoet
  the painting  of.which  the maker  have  met
a'. ? Van welk schilderij heb jij de maker ontmoet?
  of which painting  have  you  the maker  met
b. ? het toernooi waarvan ik de organisator gesproken heb
  the tournament  of.which  the organizer talked.to  have
b'. ? Van welk toernooi heb jij de organisator gesproken?
  of which book  have  you  the organizer  talked.to
c. ?? de sterke verhalen waarvan ik de vertelster bewonder
  the strong stories  of.which  the tellerfem  admire
c'. ?? Van welke sterke verhalen bewonder jij de vertelster?
  of which strong stories  admire  you  the tellerfem

PP-over-V is fully acceptable if the PP is preceded by an intonation break. This, however, triggers a reading in which the PP is presented as an afterthought. If such an intonation break is lacking, as is normally the case in PP-over-V constructions, the result is marked. The same thing holds for the scrambling examples in (217).

Example 216
Test 4C: PP-over-V
a. ? Ik heb de maker ontmoet van dit schilderij.
  have  the maker  met  of this painting
  'Iʼve met the maker of this painting.'
b. ? Ik heb de organisator gesproken van dit toernooi.
  have  the organizer  talked  of this tournament
  'Iʼve met the organizer of this tournament.'
c. ? dat ik de vertelster bewonder van die sterke verhalen.
  that  the tellerfem  admire  of these strong stories
Example 217
Test 4D: Scrambling
a. ? Ik heb van dit schilderij gisteren de maker ontmoet.
  have  of this painting yesterday  the maker  met
b. ? Ik heb van dit toernooi gisteren de organisator gesproken.
  have  of this tournament  yesterday  the organizer  spoken
c. ?? dat ik van die sterke verhalen de vertelster bewonder.
  that  of these strong stories  the tellerfem  admire

      Extraction of the theme-argument of an er-nouns derived from a ditransitive base verb is possible, provided that the recipient is left unexpressed. Extraction of the recipient always leads to a severely degraded result. This is illustrated here for example (218).

Example 218
Ik heb de schenker van dit grote bedrag (aan de kerk) ontmoet.
  have  the donor  of this large sum   to the church  met
'I have met the donor of this large sum to the church.'
Example 219
Test 4A: Topicalization
a. Van dit grote bedrag heb ik de schenker ?(*aan de kerk) ontmoet.
  of this large sum  have  the donor     to the church  met
b. * Aan de kerk heb ik de schenker van dit grote bedrag ontmoet.
  to the church  have  the donor  of this large sum  met
Example 220
Test 4B: Relativization and questioning
a. het grote bedrag waarvan ik de schenker ?(*aan de kerk) heb ontmoet
  the large sum  of.which  the donor     to the church  have  met
a'. * de kerk waaraan ik de schenker van dit grote bedrag heb ontmoet
  the church  to.which  the donor  of this large sum  have  met
b. Van welk groot bedrag heb jij de schenker ?(*aan de kerk) ontmoet?
  of which large sum  have  you  the donor     to the church  met
b'. * Aan welke kerk heb jij de schenker van dit grote bedrag ontmoet?
  to which church  have  you  the donor  of this large sum  met
Example 221
Test 4C: PP-over-V
a. Ik heb de schenker (*aan de kerk) ontmoet van dit grote bedrag.
  have  the donor    to the church  met  of this large sum
b. * Ik heb de schenker van dit grote bedrag ontmoet aan de kerk.
  have  the donor  of this large sum  met  to the church
Example 222
Test 4D: Scrambling
a. Ik heb van dit grote bedrag de schenker (*aan de kerk) ontmoet.
  have  of this large sum  the donor    to the church  met
b. * Ik heb aan de kerk de schenker van dit grote bedrag ontmoet.
  have  to the church  the donor  of this large sum  met

The fact that the presence of a recipient makes the examples ungrammatical may give rise to the conclusion that we are actually not dealing with extraction of a theme-PP from the noun phrase but with independently generated restrictive adverbial phrases: the ungrammaticality of the (a)-examples with a recipient present would then follow from the fact that the noun phrase does not contain a theme argument; cf. the discussion of (181d) in Subsection A.
      Just like in the case of the recipient aan-PPs, the PP-extraction tests do not yield the expected results for cases in which the theme complement is headed by a preposition other than the functional preposition van. Examples (223) show that topicalization leads to an unacceptable result. The examples in (224) and (225) show that the same thing holds for the other forms of extraction.

Example 223
Test 4A: Topicalization
a. De politie heeft de jager op ons wild gearresteerd.
  the police  has  the hunter  on our game  arrested
  'The police has arrested the hunter of our big game.'
a'. * Op ons wild heeft de politie de jager gearresteerd.
b. De arts heeft de lijders aan deze ziekte behandeld.
  the doctor  has  the sufferers  to this disease  treated
b'. * Aan deze ziekte heeft de arts de lijders behandeld.
Example 224
Test 4B: Relativization and questioning
a. * het wild waarop de politie de jager heeft gearresteerd
  the game  where-on  the police  the hunter  has  arrested
a'. * Op welk wild heeft de politie de jager gearresteerd?
  on which game  has  the police  the hunter  arrested
b. * de ziekte waaraan de arts de lijders heeft behandeld
  the disease  where-from  the doctor  the sufferers  has  treated
b'. * Aan welke ziekte heeft de arts de lijders behandeld?
  from which disease  has  the doctor  the sufferers  treated
Example 225
Test 4C&D: PP-over-V and Scrambling
a. # De politie heeft de jager gearresteerd op ons wild.
  the police  has  the hunter  arrested  on our game
a'. # De politie heeft op ons wild de jager gearresteerd.
  the police  has  on our game  the hunter  arrested
b. # De arts heeft de lijders behandeld aan deze ziekte.
  the doctor  has  the sufferers  treated  from this disease
b'. * De arts heeft aan deze ziekte de lijders behandeld.
  the doctor  has  from this disease  the sufferers  treated

In view of these facts, one possible conclusion would be that theme arguments headed by prepositions other than van are not complements of the noun, but adjuncts. It is clear, however, that the PPs under discussion behave differently from undisputed adjuncts and more like the PP-complements of the input verb: they are obligatory, headed by the same preposition as the PP selected by the base verb, and their semantic relation to the er-noun is similar to that between the input verb and its PP-complement. This may lead to the conclusion that the PP-extraction test is in fact not a good test for establishing complement status of the PP, that is, just like adjunct PPs, complement PPs cannot be extracted from noun phrases. This would again lead to the conclusion that the “displaced” van-PPs are in fact not arguments of the noun but independent restrictive adverbial phrases; cf. the discussion in Section 2.2.1, sub VC.

[+]  E.  Conclusion

Table 6 summarizes the results from the previous subsections of the four tests for inherited theme arguments of agentive er-nouns. The third and fifth columns indicate whether the results provide evidence for or against the assumption that we are dealing with complements.

Table 6: Complements of agentive er-nominalization: outcome of Tests 1-4
  van-PPs other PPs:
Test 1: PP obligatory + positive + positive
Test 2: Post-copular position positive n.a. n.a.
Test 3: R-pronominalization + positive ? ?
Test 4A: Topicalization ? positive negative
Test 4B: Relativization/questioning ?    
Test 4C: PP-over-V ?    
Test 4D: Scrambling ?    

The results show that it is justified to regard inherited theme arguments that surface as van-PPs as complements of the derived er-noun. Recipients and theme PPs with prepositions other than functional van, however, are more problematic. It is only Test 1 concerning the obligatoriness of the PP that provides unequivocal evidence in favor of complement status of these PPs. Test 2 concerning postcopular placement of van-PPs does of course not apply to these cases. The outcome of Test 3 concerning R-pronominalization seems to point in the direction of complement status, but the results are still not entirely convincing. The results of Test 4 are plainly negative.
      Although the results of the test do not unequivocally show that PPs introduced by a preposition other than van are complements, we will regard them as such. A first reason for this is that we have seen that Test 4 is perhaps not a good test for distinguishing between adjuncts and complements: seeming cases of extraction may actually involve independent restrictive adverbial phrases. A second reason is that at least the theme PPs clearly function as complements with all of the other forms of deverbal nominalization; cf. Sections

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      [97%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 2 Projection of noun phrases I: complementation > 2.2. Prepositional and nominal complements > 2.2.3. Deverbal nouns
    • 2.2.1. Tests for distinguishing PP-complements from PP-adjuncts
      [97%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 2 Projection of noun phrases I: complementation > 2.2. Prepositional and nominal complements
    • Inf-nominalizations
      [97%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 2 Projection of noun phrases I: complementation > 2.2. Prepositional and nominal complements > 2.2.3. Deverbal nouns
    • Er-nominalization
      [97%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 1 Characterization and classification > 1.3. Derivation of nouns > 1.3.1. Deverbal nouns
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    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
    A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.