de regen die de sneeuw had verdreven

< Previous | Next >

Dalieux

Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Consider the sentence "de regen die de sneeuw had verdreven".

In English relative clauses, the position of "had driven away" and "the snow" makes it clear whether the latter is the subject or the object of the clause:
"the rain that the snow had driven away" - snow is the subject i.e.: the snow drove away the rain
"the rain that had driven away the snow" - snow is the object i.e.: the rain drove away the snow

But we don't get the same benefit in Dutch because in a relative clause the conjugated verb goes to the end anyway.

So, how would you dintinguish between the two sentences in Dutch?
Could "de regen die de sneeuw had verdreven" have both meanings depending on the context?

another example: "de man die de vrouw heeft gekust"
who kissed whom?
 
Last edited:
  • Rowan123

    Senior Member
    Dutch
    Hi,

    'De regen die de sneeuw had verdreven' means, most of the time, that the rain had driven away the snow. 'De regen' is subject here and 'de sneeuw' is object. It is not common to use this sentence for saying that snow drove away the rain, although it could be used in this meaning.

    'De sneeuw die de regen had verdreven' means, most of the time, that the snow had driven away the rain. 'De sneeuw' is subject, 'de regen' is object. It is not common to use this sentence for saying that the rain drove away the snow, but it could be used for saying it.

    'De man die de vrouw heeft gekust' is mostly used for a man who kisses a woman. This sentence could be used for saying that a woman kissed a man, but it isn't common. If you want to say that a woman kisses a man, I would use the following sentence: 'de vrouw die de man heeft gekust.'
     

    Dalieux

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Thanks for the reply. So it seems there may be some ambiguity in Dutch relative clauses.

    But suppose that I'm talking about the man: he is the contextual focal point, so I want to maintain him as the subject of the main clause.
    i.e.: "Peter became a controversial character in politics after being identified as the man who has kissed the Queen / the man who the Queen has kissed"

    In this sentence, it would be unnatural to start the colored clauses with anything other than "the man" himself: he is the topic.

    Since you have told me that the idea in orange would hold the most natural meaning, I guess there's no problem in translating it as "Peter became a controversial character in politics after being identified as de man die de Koningin heeft gekust", right?

    But what about the ideia in the purple clause? How to make it clear that the Queen herself kissed him and not otherwise?
    Maybe by using the passive form? "de man die door de Koningin werd gekust"?
    Maybe by using some preposition? "de man aan wie de Koningin een kus heeft gegeven"?
    Maybe the sentence in a whole should change because it's not something one would normally express in Dutch in this form?
     
    Last edited:

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    Maybe by using the passive form? "de man die door de Koningin werd gekust"?
    Maybe by using some preposition? "de man aan wie de Koningin een kus heeft gegeven"?
    They are both excellent alternatives to take away the ambiguity.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    [Corrected some mistakes in the meantime...]
    Interesting observation, But in general we shall make sure or try to make sure that the sentence cannot sound ambiguous. I believe there is an unmarked meaning, , where such "love" sentences will mainly refer to the antecedent kissing the other in the relative clause - or otherwise the context will make clear that the other meaning is intended (or the author will go for the passive)...
    We could theoretically for example put an indirect object in front of the sentence, as in 'Hans geeft Grietje een cadeautje' but that would really be marked. Few people would even think of that interpretation except in a context. German does it more often but it has cases...
     
    Last edited:

    Dalieux

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Hi, thanks for the reply, but I don't think I quite grasped your second point.
    Could you provide more examples with relative clauses, please?
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Well, the ambiguity disappears in the relative clause because we cannot stand it or something like that
    Hans geeft Grietje een cadeautje'
    Relative clauses
    Hans, aan wie (wie ??) Grietje een cadeau geeft - the (aan) wie indicates that Hans is the IO in the relative clause
    Hans, die [aan] Grietje een cadeau geeft - the die shows that Hans is the subject/ agent...

    The ambiguity is only there in statements, but even then it feels fairly weird, uncommon...
     

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    We could theoretically for example put an indirect object in front of the sentence, as in 'Hans geeft Grietje een cadeautje' but that would really be marked.
    I don't think "Hans" can be considered as the indirect object in "'Hans geeft Grietje een cadeautje". You could possibly say "Aan Hans geeft Grietje een cadeautje" but I don't believe it could work without the "aan".

    And, what do you mean with "marked"?
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    It is more common met 'aan', for sure, but just think of: De burgemeester geef ik een cadeau. Anything wrong? Don't think so, but I quite agree: "Aan de burgemeester geef ik..." is more common.

    Marked and non-marked = non-default and default mode. Does that help?
     

    Peterdg

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    De burgemeester geef ik een cadeau. Anything wrong?
    I don't know if it is accepted or not; I understand it because the verbal form here excludes the fact that "de burgemeester" would be the subject, which is not the case with "Hans en Grietje".

    Even if it were an acceptable use, there is no living soul (I think) that would even remotely consider Hans to be the indirect object.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    No living soul, come on... OK for me to say that is marked, uncommon. But not impossible, especially in certain contrastive contexts: 'Aan zijn vrouw heeft hij … gegeven, maar de burgemeester heeft hij alleen... " I have only said about the H&G sentence that is not impossible. Strange: yes...
     

    Dalieux

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Hans, aan wie (wie ??) Grietje een cadeau geeft - the (aan) wie indicates that Hans is the IO in the relative clause
    Hans, die [aan] Grietje een cadeau geeft - the die shows that Hans is the subject/ agent...
    So the use of wie and die is enough to tell if the antecedent is the doer or receiver of the action?

    I confess I'm a bit confused, because I thought you'd only use wie for persons together with a preposition. Without preposition, you'd have to stick with either die or dat.

    So, Hans, die grietje een cadeau geeft (without prepositions) can only mean that Hans is the one who gave the gift and never otherwise?
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Indeed. The other version woulld be: Hans, aan wie G een cadeau geeft, ... Here I follow PeterDG: no "aan" would sound strange...

    I have only just noticed that you have added a question: wie/ die. You are right about die/ wie, basically. But indirect object often takes "aan", and especially in relative clauses you cannot drop the "aan". You could try but it won't sound natural...
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top