Skip to main content Accessibility help

A Corpus-Based Analysis of V2 Variation in West Flemish and French Flemish Dialects

  • Chloé Lybaert (a1), Bernard De Clerck (a1), Jorien Saelens (a1) and Ludovic De Cuypere (a1)


This paper explores V2 variation in West Flemish and French Flemish dialects of Dutch based on an extensive corpus of authentic spoken data. After taking stock of the existing literature, we probe into the effect of region, prosodic integration, form and function of the topicalized constituent, form of the subject, and the number of constituents in the prefield on (non)inverted word order. This is the first study that carries out regression analysis on the combined impact of these variables in the entire West Flemish and French Flemish region, with additional visualization of effect sizes. The results show that noninversion is generally more widespread than originally anticipated, with unexpected higher occurrence of noninversion in continental West Flemish and lower frequencies in western West Flemish. With the exception of the variable number of constituents in the prefield, all other variables had a significant impact on word order: Clausal topicalized elements, elements that have peripheral functions, and elements that lack prosodic integration all favor noninverted word order. The form of the subject also impacted word order, but its effect is sometimes overruled by discourse considerations.


Corresponding author

Ghent University, Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication, Groot-Brittanniëlaan 45, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, [], []
Linguistics Department, Jubileumlaan 33-35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, []


Hide All
Adger, David. 2003. Core syntax: A minimalist approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Auger, Julie. 2003. Les pronoms clitiques sujets en picard: une analyse au confluent de la phonologie, de la morphologie et de la syntaxe. Journal of French Language Studies 13. 122.
Axel, Katrin. 2007. Studies on Old High German syntax. Left sentence periphery, verb placement and verb second. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Barbiers, Sjef, Bennis, Hans, de Vogelaer, Gunther, Devos, Magda, & van der Ham, Margreet. 2005. Syntactische atlas van de Nederlandse dialecten: Deel 1 (SAND 2005). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Bates, Douglas, Maechler, Martin, Bolker, Ben, & Walker, Steve. 2015. Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software 67. 148.
Bayer, Josef. 1984. COMP in Bavarian syntax. The Linguistic Review 3. 209274.
Benincà, Paola, & Poletto, Cecilia. 2005. On some descriptive generalizations in Romance. Handbook of comparative syntax, ed. by Cinque, Giglielmo & Kayne, Richard, 221258. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Borsley, Robert. 1996. Modern phrase structure grammar. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.
Broekhuis, Hans, & Corver, Norbert. 2016. Main clause external elements. Dutch syntax. Verbs and verb phrases, vol. 3, ed. by By Broekhuis, Hans & Corver, Norbert, 16791733. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Burridge, Kate. 1993. Syntactic change in Germanic. Aspects of language change in Germanic. With particular reference to Middle Dutch. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Carnie, Andrew. 2007. Syntax: A generative introduction, 2nd edn. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
Cognola, Federica. 2013. Syntactic variation and verb second: A German dialect in Northern Italy. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Cornips, Leonie, & Jongenburger, Willy. 2001. Het design en de methodologie van het SAND-project. Nederlandse Taalkunde 6. 112.
Coussé, Evie. 2004. De plaats van de persoonsvorm in de hoofdzin: verandering of status-quo? Schatbewaarder van de taal. Liber amicorum Johan Taeldeman, ed. by De Caluwe, Johan, Devos, Magda, Van Keymeulen, Jacques, & De Schutter, Georges, 235244. Gent: Academia Press.
De Caluwe, Johan. 2006. Tussentaal als natuurlijke omgangstaal in Vlaanderen. Structuren in talige variatie in Vlaanderen, ed. by De Caluwe, Johan & Devos, Magda, 1934. Gent: Academia Press.
De Caluwe, Johan, Delarue, Steven, Ghyselen, Anne-Sophie, & Lybaert, Chloé (eds.). 2013. Tussentaal. Over de talige ruimte tussen dialect en standaardtaal in Vlaanderen. Gent: Academia Press.
De Vogelaer, Gunther. 2008. (De)grammaticalisation as a source for new constructions: The case of subject doubling in Dutch. Constructions and language change, ed. by Bergs, Alexander & Diewald, Gabriele, 229257. Berlin: de Gruyter.
De Vogelaer, Gunther. 2010. Does grammaticalisation need analogy? Different pathways on the “pronoun/agreement marker”-cline. Grammaticalisation: Current views and issues, ed. by Stathi, Katerina, Gehweiler, Elke, & König, Ekkehard, 221240. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Debrabandere, Frans. 1976. De SVf-woordorde in zinnen met aanloop. Handelingen van de Koninklijke Commissie voor Toponymie & Dialectologie 50. 8797.
Demske, Ulrike. 2015. Adverbials and the left periphery: Syntax and Information Structure in the History of German. The 17th Diachronic Generative Syntax conference (DiGS17) abstract., accessed on May 28, 2016.
Devos, Magda, & Vandekerckhove, Reinhild. 2005. West-Vlaams. Tielt: Lannoo.
Donaldson, Bryan. 2012. Initial subordinate clauses in Old French: Syntactic variation and the clausal left periphery. Lingua 122. 10211046.
Fischer, Olga, Kemenade, Ans van, Koopman, Willem, & van der Wurff, Wim. 2000. The syntax of Early English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fox, John. 2003. Effect displays in R for generalised linear models. Journal of Statistical Software 8. 127. Available at, accessed on May 16, 2017.
Freywald, Ulrike, Cornips, Leonie, Ganuza, Natalia, Nistov, Ingvild, & Opsahl, Toril. 2013. Urban vernaculars in contemporary northern Europe: Innovative variants of V2 in Germany, Norway and Sweden. Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies 119. Available at, accessed on May 28, 2016.
Freywald, Ulrike, Cornips, Leonie, Ganuza, Natalia, Nistov, Ingvild, & Toril, Opsahl. 2015. Beyond verb second—a matter of novel information structural effects? Evidence from Norwegian, Swedish, German and Dutch. Language, youth and identity in the 21st century: Linguistic practices across urban spaces, ed. by Nortier, Jacomine & Svendsen, Bente A., 7392. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fromkin, Victoria (ed.). 2000. Linguistics: An introduction to linguistic theory. Malden: Blackwell Publishers.
Ganuza, Natalia. 2008. Syntactic variation in the Swedish of adolescents in multilingual urban settings. Subject-verb order in declaratives, questions and subordinate clauses. Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm University dissertation.
Gerritsen, Marinel. 1980. An analysis of the rise of SOV patterns in Dutch. Current issues in linguistics theory, ed. by Traugott, Elizabeth C., Labrum, Rebecca, & Shepherd, Susan C., 123136. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Ghyselen, Anne-Sophie, & Van Keymeulen, Jacques. 2014. Dialectcompetentie en functionaliteit van het dialect in Vlaanderen anno 2013. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 130. 117139.
Goeman, Ton, van Oostendorp, Marc, van Reenen, Pieter, Koornwinder, Oele, van den Berg, Boudewijn, & van Reenen, Anke. 2008. Morfologische atlas van de Nederlandse dialecten: Deel 2 (=MAND 2008). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Greco, Ciro, & Haegeman, Liliane. 2016. Frame setters and the microvariation of subject-initial V2. Paper presented at the Syntax-Discourse Interface Conference held at the Centre de Lingüística Theòretica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, November 10–11, 2016. Available at, accessed on May 16, 2017.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1966. Universals of language, 2nd edn. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Haeberli, Eric. 2002. Observations on the loss of verb second in the history of English. Studies in comparative Germanic syntax, ed. by Zwart, Jan-Wouter & Abraham, Werner, 245272. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Haegeman, Liliane, & Greco, Ciro. 2018. West Flemish V3 and the interaction of syntax and discourse. Journal of comparative Germanic linguistics 21. 156.
Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, de Rooij, Jaap, & van den Toorn, Maarten. 1997. Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst (E-ANS 2012). Groningen: Martinus Nijhoff. Available at, accessed on May 22, 2016.
Harrell, Frank E., Jr., with contributions from Charles Dupont and many others. 2016. Hmisc: Harrell Miscellaneous. R package version 3.17-4. Available at
Hoeksema, Jack. 2014. De plaats van het voorzetselvoorwerp. Nederlandse Taalkunde 19. 221244.
Hook, Peter. 1976. Is Kashmiri an SVO language? Indian Linguistics 37. 133142.
Hoppenbrouwers, Cor. 1990. Het regiolect. Van dialect tot Algemeen Nederlands. Muiderberg: Coutinho.
Hróarsdóttir, Thorbjörg. 2001. Word order change in Icelandic: From OV to VO. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Jacobson, Bengt. 1951. Inversion in English with special reference to the Early Modern English period. Uppsala: Almqvist.
Jaspers, Jürgen, & Van Hoof, Sarah. 2013. Hyperstandardisation in Flanders: Extreme enregisterment and its aftermath. Pragmatics 23. 331359.
Kahle, David, & Wickham, Hadley. 2013. ggmap: Spatial visualization with ggplot2. The R Journal 5. 144–161. Available at, accessed on May 16, 2017.
Kern, Friederike, & Selting, Margret. 2006. Einheitenkonstruktion im Türkendeutschen: Grammatische und prosodische Aspekte. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 25. 239272.
Lass, Roger. 1994. Old English. A historical linguistic companion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lehmann, Christian. 1988. Towards a typology of clause linkage. Clause combining in grammar and discourse, ed. by Haiman, John & Thompson, Sandra A., 181225. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Liver, Ricarda. 2009. Deutsche Einflüsse im Bündnerromanischen. Deutsch und seine Nachbarn, ed. by Elmentaler, Michael, 133148. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.
Los, Bettelou. 2009. The consequences of the loss of verb-second in English: Information structure and syntax in interaction. English Language and Linguistics 13. 97125.
Mesthrie, Rajend, Swann, Joan, Deumert, Ana, & Leap, William L.. 2009. Introducing sociolinguistics. 2nd edn. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Nichols, Johanna. 2011. Ingush grammar. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Opsahl, Toril. 2009. “Egentlig alle kan bidra!” En samling sosiolingvistiske studier av strukturelle trekk ved norsk i multietniske ungdomsmiljøer i Oslo. Oslo, Norway: University of Oslo dissertation.
Ouhalla, Jamal. 1994. Transformational grammar: From rules to principles and parameters. London: Edward Arnold.
Paardekooper, Piet. 1955. Syntaxis, spraakkunst en taalkunde. Den Bosch: L.C.G. Malmberg.
Poletto, Cecilia. 2008. Doubling as splitting. Microvariations in syntactic doubling, ed. by Barbiers, Sjef, Koeneman, Olaf, & Lekakou, Marika, 3768. Bingley: Emerald.
Posner, Rebecca. 1996. The Romance languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rowlett, Paul. 2007. The syntax of French. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ryckeboer, Hugo. 2004. Frans-Vlaams. Tielt: Lannoo.
Saelens, Jorien. 2014. Topicalizering zonder inversie: een ingveonisme? Een corpusstudie van de inversiealternantie in het Frans- en West-Vlaams. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University MA thesis.
Sollid, Hilde, & Eide, Kristin M.. 2007. On verb second and the sa-construction in Mainland Scandinavian L2. Nordlyd 34. 728.
Steiner, Britanny. 2014. The evolution of information structure and verb second in the history of French. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana dissertation.
Swieczkowski, Walerian. 1962. Word order patterning in Middle English. Den Haag: Mouton.
Taeldeman, Johan. 1982. “Ingwäonismen” in Flandern. Die Leistung der Strataforschung und der Kreolistik. Typologische Aspekte der Sprachkontakte, ed. by Ureland, Per Sture, 277296. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Van der Horst, Joop. 2008. Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse syntaxis. Leuven: University Press.
Vanacker, Valeer-Frits. 1967. Syntaktische Daten aus franzözisch-flämischen Tonbandaufnahmen. Verhandlungen des 2en Internationalen Dialektologen-kongresses. Special Issue of Zeitschrift für Mundartforschung 3-4, ed. by Schmidt, Ludwig Erich, 844855. Wiesbaden: Steiner.
Vanacker, Valeer-Frits. 1977. Syntactische overeenkomsten tussen Frans-Vlaamse en Westvlaamse dialekten. De Franse Nederlanden. Les Pays-Bas Français 1977. 206216.
Vance, Barbara, Donaldson, Bryan, & Steiner, Devan. 2009. V2 Loss in Old French and Old Occitan: The role of fronted clauses. Romance linguistics 2009: Selected papers from the Thirty Ninth Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, ed. by Colina, Sonia, Olarrea, Antxon, & Carvalho, Ana Maria, 301320. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Vandekerckhove, Reinhild. 2000. Structurele en sociale aspecten van dialectverandering. De dynamiek van het Deerlijkse dialect. Gent: KANTL.
Vandenberghe, Roxane. 2006. De morfosyntaxis van de Middelnederlandse adverbial bindwoorden in synchroon en diachroon perspectief. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University dissertation.
Vandeweghe, Willy. 2010. Grammatica van de Nederlandse zin. Antwerpen: Apeldoorn.
Wickham, Hadley. 2009. ggplot2: Elegant graphics for data analysis. New York, NY: Springer.
Willemyns, Roland. 1971. Enkele aspecten van het 16e-eeuwse Brugs van Willem Weydts. Handelingen van de Koninklijke Zuidnederlandse Maatschappij voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiedenis XXV. 345356.
Zepeda, Ofelia. 1983. A Tohono O’odham grammar. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.
Reeks Nederlandse dialectatlassen (RND). Available at
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Germanic Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1470-5427
  • EISSN: 1475-3014
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-germanic-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed