Topicality and anaphoricity in Dutch scrambling

Gert Jan Schoenmakers, Marjolein Poortvliet, Jeannette Schaeffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Direct objects in Dutch can precede or follow adverbs, a phenomenon commonly referred to as scrambling. The linguistic literature agrees in its assumption that scrambling is regulated by the topicality and anaphoricity status of definite objects, but theories vary as to what kinds of objects exactly are predicted to scramble. This study reports experimental data from a sentence completion experiment with adult native speakers of Dutch, showing that topics are scrambled more often than foci, and that anaphoric objects are scrambled more often than non-anaphoric objects. However, while the data provide support for the assumption that topicality and anaphoricity play an important role in scrambling, they also indicate that the discourse status of the object in and of itself cannot explain the full scrambling variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-571
Number of pages31
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaphoricity
  • Definite Objects
  • Dutch
  • Scrambling
  • Topicality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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