If I recall correctly, Portuguese is unique among Romance languages for having infinitives that take pronoun clitics and so form equivalents to English constructions such as "for you to (do X)" or "for us to do (X)."

Are there one or more Germanic languages that each have grammatical constructions that are not found in any other Germanic language? If so, what are some of these constructions?

  • 2
    That is extremely likely. Not many people here speak all Germanic languages, but take your own very English construction, for example: it doesn't work in Dutch or German. Then take the German ellipsis of the verb "have" in wie Sie vorher geschrieben ("as you written before"), which I believe appears mostly in literary language: it is impossible in English and Dutch. Then Dutch has the odd placement of the relative pronoun er: ik heb er twee van ("I have it two of"). Your question seems a bit open-ended: what kind of answer are you looking for?
    – Cerberus
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 4:12
  • Basically the kind of answer you just gave. You've identified two specific non-English constructions that might be unique to their respective standard languages. This is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 4:18
  • But there are many other cases, I suppose. If another user answers the same but with different examples, how do we objectively know who best answered? Would it be possible for you to slightly narrow your question?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 8:49
  • 2
    An exhaustive enumeration is not really plausible, but another example is do-insertion from English.
    – jogloran
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 12:03
  • Well, I could narrow it to verb morphology. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 19:39

2 Answers 2


Swiss German has a strange cross-serial semantic dependency explained here:


This is the "We Hans the house helped paint" brought up whenever someone wished to argue that natural language is not a context free grammar. This is a silly use of this construction, but it does answer your question, because cross serial attachement is consiered ungrammatical in German German.


Alemannic (aka Swiss German) Verb Doubling. A verb surfaces twice but is semantically computed once.

go 'go'

De  Hans got  go poschte
the John goes go shop
"John goes shopping"

afo 'begin'

denn fot   s   bluet afo   zirkuliere
then begin the blood begin circulate
"then the blood begins to circulate"

renne 'run', go 'go'
Here, 'go' "doubles" 'renne'. My source accounts for it with generative semantics.

do   isch alles an d   Fänschter grennt go lose
then has  all   to the windows   run    go listen
"this is when everybody ran to the windows and listened"

This syntactic phenomenon, Alemannic Verb Doubling, does not exist in other Germanic varieties. Source: I'm writing my thesis on this.

  • go is a preposition (cognate with gegen, not with the verb gehen), so it’s not doubling. Commented Jul 1 at 22:52

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