This article takes a usage-based perspective on the partitive genitive construction in Dutch (iets moois, ‘something beautiful’), which has previously drawn scholarly attention from a theoretical perspective, due to the challenges it presents to Dutch nominal morphosyntax. We will argue that a good understanding of the construction at issue cannot circumvent the enormous variation in the expression of the genitive marker. Within the wide variation space, regular patterns can be discerned, which we uncovered by using mixed-effects logistic regression. This approach allows us to assess the precise contribution of internal factors (e.g. length of the adjective, or the type of quantifier) and external factors (e.g. regional variety, or register), as well as their interactions. This article has three objectives then: first, it wants to contribute to the description of Dutch syntax, second it aspires to advance methodological standards in grammatical investigation, and third, it makes a theoretical plea for a usage-based perspective, with full recognition of variation.
About the authors
Dirk Pijpops obtained a Master in Linguistics at the University of Leuven and is currently enrolled in the Master of Artificial Intelligence at the same university. He works on quantitative approaches to language study and agent-based modeling.
Freek Van de Velde (Ph.D.) is a postdoctoral research fellow with the FWO Research Foundation at the University of Leuven, Belgium. His research is situated in the domain of Dutch and West Germanic morphosyntax, both synchronically and diachronically, and theoretical models of grammar and language change. His PhD dissertation dealt with the history of the noun phrase. Address: Department of linguistics, University of Leuven, Blijde Inkomststraat 21, P.O. Box 3308, Leuven BE-3000. E-mail: 〈firstname.lastname@example.org〉.
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