Variation between the infinitival complementizers om/voor in spontaneous speech data compared to elicitation data

Leonie Cornips (Meertens Institute)


Cornips investigates the variation between om and voor as two variants of the infinitival complementizer in Heerlen Dutch, a regional Dutch variety. The 33,5 hours of recordings of spontaneous speech of 67 speakers (socially stratified according to age, language background, profession & education) of Heerlen Dutch show at first sight that the infinitival complementizers om and voor display the same syntactic distribution in Heerlen Dutch both at the individual and at the group level. Both variants appear with verbs of subject, object and arbitrary control. Further, om and voor arise in adjunct and complement infinitival clauses as in purpose clauses , as the complement of the verb proberen 'to try' and as the complement of adjectives, respectively. In addition, both om and voor show up in infinitival relative clauses. This similar syntactic distribution of om and voor suggest that they are only lexical variants. However, the sociolinguistic and quantitative part of this study reveals that if both om and voor are simultaneously available at the individual level, an infinitival non-purpose clause promotes the variant om and an infinitival purpose clause promotes the variant voor. The fact that in Heerlen Dutch no grammar is attested in which voor appears in a non-purpose clause and om in a purpose infinitival clause presents more evidence.

Back to Syntactic Microvariation