Don't shoot the messenger: how subjectivity affects distributional properties

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The present paper discusses the differences in distributional properties between schijnen and lijken: two Dutch raising-verbs that are often translated to English ‘seem’. According to the cartographic approach, for instance Haegeman, L. (2006a. Clitic Climbing and the Dual Status of Sembrare. Linguistic Inquiry 37, 484–501), the differences in distributional properties follow from a difference in their position in the syntactic structure. Lijken is proposed to be a lexical verb inserted in a low position. Schijnen on the other hand is a functional head encoding speaker-related evidential mood, inserted in a high position. This paper shows that postulating different syntactic positions is unnecessary. The distributional differences follow from restrictions on scope as a result of the subjectivity directly (or speaker-related mood). The subjectivity of schijnen results in positive polarity behavior and as such schijnen is ruled out in nonveridical contexts (cf. Ernst, T., 2009. Speaker-oriented adverbs. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 27, 497–544). A benefit of the present approach is that it is able to fit in cases in which schijnen is used non-subjectively and can appear under modals and aspect. In addition, it is able to accommodate the impossibility to embed subjective lijkt-me under modals and aspect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-890
Number of pages17
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Subjectivity
  • M-performativity
  • Ordering restrictions
  • Nonveridicality
  • Evidentiality


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