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Split Pronominal Adverbs in Dutch: Meaning-full or meaning-less
Nickolas Sebastiano de Carlo

Last modified: 2015-11-16


The Dutch pronominal adverb consists of two forms:

split: Daar heb ik geen probleem mee

unsplit Daarmee heb ik geen probleem.

Reasons for splitting exist, and in some instances Dutch splitting has been analogously compared to English “preposition stranding”. Yet “preposition stranding” does not adequately describe the phenomenon here.

This discussion will present a collostructional analysis following Gries and Stefanowitsch (2003), testing Van der Horst’s (1992) hypothesis that the verb’s close relation to the pronominal adverb is the main cause of splitting. Whereas van der Horst does provide a helpful heuristic to identify patterns in splitting, the argument lacks quantitative proof.

This study observes one Dutch pronominal adverb: daarmee. Via the INL’s 38 million word corpus, I have compiled a database of 1735 unique entries in Netherlandic Dutch. In order to test Van der Horst’s hypothesis, I have created a database of all Dutch phrasal verbs that take met. The INL corpus data are then crosschecked with this phrasal verb list and I perform a collostructional analysis on these verbs as a whole. The data here show a minimally significant relationship between the split form and the phrasal verbs that take met (p=0.2176, Fisher’s exact test, p=0.219, c2 test). In addition, a collostructional test was performed on each individual phrasal verb in the dataset.

This latter test shows patterns in the attraction to the split form. The results indicate a strong tendency for the split form to attract those phrasal verbs which occur more frequently in Dutch according to Tiberius and Schoonheim's Frequency Dictionary of Dutch. Therefore, I am suggesting that one reason for splitting may be more connected with the verb’s overall frequency of use and less with its relation to the pronominal adverb.




Stefanowitsch, Anatol, and Stefan Th. Gries. 2003. Collostructions: Investigating the interaction between words and constructions. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 8:2. 209-243.


Tiberius, Carole, and Tanneke Schooneheim. 2014. A frequency dictionary of Dutch. Routledge. New York.


van der Horst, Joop. 1992. Splitsen of niet-splitsen van voornaamwoordelijke bijwoorden. Forum der Letteren 33. 127-147.

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