The principal aim of the present study, called Cause and Agent, is the description of passives in Dutch grammar.
It is stated in an introductory chapter that the proposals from Chomsky (1957) till Fiengo (1974) to solve the problems of English passives fail to account for certain phenomena in Dutch. These phenomena are connected with action-sentences and adverbials of cause beginning with door.
In the second chapter a survey is given of the syntactic and semantic properties of verbs which can occur in passive sentences. Among them we find the sub-class of the so-called pseudo-activity verbs, like duperen (injure), overtuigen (convince), creëren (create), verhinderen (hinder), verkleinen (diminish, reduce), voorkomen (prevent) etc. Those verbs are at times to be interpreted as real activity verbs, at other times the verbs are stative. They can be combined in their activity sense with door-adverbials of a limited scope. Although a causal adverbial commonly has the rest of the sentence as its scope, denoting the cause of the state or happening described in the other part of the sentence, the subject of the sentence Door hun maatregelen voorkwamen de doktoren een ramp (By their measures the doctors prevented a disaster), is to be interpreted outside the scope of the adverbial. The measures are not the cause of the doctors' preventing a disaster.
In the first part of the third chapter a proposal is made for a projection rule that can interpret causal door-adverbials, accounting for their hierarchy if there are two or more of them in one clause. In the second part we try to account for passive phenomena in Dutch, taking Fiengo's proposal as a starting point. Fiengo's frame-work turns out to be insufficient to account for the passive sentences with intransitive verbs, for the passive sentences with door-phrases of a limited scope and for the passive structures (complements and nominals) without the passive auxiliary worden or zijn (be). These phenomena coerce us into an investigation of action sentences in the fourth chapter. An attempt is made to show that Dutch grammar has a base-rule NP → VP. A NP dominating a VP represents the underlying structure of activity gerunds, the meaning of which is called ‘act-type’ (Rescher 1967; 1970). According to Ross (1972) the pro-verb doen (do) is present in the underlying structure of action sentences. Unlike Ross, however, who could not describe relative sentences like the dancing she did, we argue that the object of doen (do) has the structure of a NP dominating a VP. The analysis is completed with a transformation T-handeling in substitution of the rule Do-gobbling of Ross. The doen-analysis also applies to sentences of a certain type in which the subject is non-human. An example is De spons zoog het water op (The sponge sucked up the