There might be something there here

If you're reading these words out of your own free will, I'm sure I don't have to explain to you that locative expressions such as here and there play a central role in the type of linguistic racket that I'm in, especially when they're used like the first instance in the title of this post. Not surprisingly, then, the time has come for me to venture into this red ocean and add some thoughts on the subject. I'd already dabbled in it—not in 'Nam of course—in a CGWS-talk in 2011 which I still have to write up as a paper—story of my professional life—but in this new paper I take a different approach. I focus on expletive data from one dialect of Dutch (my own) and try to make two points:

  1. Expletives behave exactly like regular subject pronouns in this dialect, in two ways. On the one hand, they show the same distinction between strong and deficient forms that subject pronouns do, and on the other, expletives can undergo pronominal doubling (and even tripling), like subjects, but unlike any other elements (including locative pronouns).
  2. Unlike what is often assumed and sometimes explicitly stated, it is not only the distal locative adverb (i.e. there) that can be used as an expletive. In this dialect, its proximate counterpart here can also display expletive-like behavior.

The paper is still very much work in progress (it's currently under review) and so any comments/thoughts/questions you might have would be most appreciated, but I think there might something there here. Plus, it has allowed me to continue my hobby of devising example sentences that, when judged by their glosses, look like there is no way they can be part of natural language. The winner this time is example number (64), which can be glossed as 'Here has there here here no-one with Jef talked.'

  1. As an aside, yes, I know that it's been ages since my last post. Turns out it's not easy to combine a heavy teaching semester with a vibrant blog.

  2. Obviously, the post-nominal element (modifier? suffix?) -like is pretty important here: it turns out that even in its use as an expletive, here doesn't lose it's locative meaning (unlike there); see the paper for details.

  3. Can you even say that in English?

  4. A previous favorite of mine can be found in my OUP-book, p.255, fn6: 'I think that that that that that must replace.'