Topicality and anaphoricity in Dutch scrambling

Schoenmakers, G.-J., Poortvliet, M., & Schaeffer, J. (2022). Topicality and anaphoricity in Dutch scrambling. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 40, 541-571. doi:10.1007/s11049-021-09516-z.
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.
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