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On the Split Nature of the Duth laten-Causative

Gerlof Bouma and Jonas Kuhn


We present a discussion of the laten-perception-causative construction in Dutch, formed by combining laten 'let' and a non-volitional perception/cognition verb like zien 'see'. On the basis of partly novel argument alternation and binding data, we show that these causatives cannot be captured by a standard raising analysis. This sets these data apart from other uses of causative laten. The laten-perception-causative is best analyzed as a complex predicate. Interestingly, although its behaviour cannot be explained from the syntactic combinatory rules, the observed argument alternations and binding effects are predictable from Dutch syntax if we were to assume that the laten-perception-causative is a complex member of a semantically coherent group of communication verbs.

After having introduced the monoclausal complex predicate analysis, we approach the question of how the intermediate status of laten-perception-causatives between idiomatic constructions and transparent phrasal combinations could be formally captured in an extension of the LFG architecture. We believe that the construction sheds some interesting light on long-standing issues from the complex predicate formation debate, especially when viewed from the perspective of recent considerations about the use of a template hierarchy as a theoretically motivated device in LFG.

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