I'm curious about what the space of attested V2 languages looks like, particularly what happens to the part of the VP besides the finite verb.

I'm especially curious whether moving the non-finite part of the VP into the first position is allowed and what the distribution of languages that allow or prohibit it looks like.

The Wikipedia article on V2 Word Order shows that some languages ordinarily put the rest of the VP after the finite verb and others ordinarily put the rest of the VP at the end of the clause, but doesn't explicitly mention what constituent orders are mandatory or prohibited.

The V2 principle regulates the position of finite verbs only; its influence on non-finite verbs (infinitives, participles, etc.) is indirect. Non-finite verbs in V2 languages appear in varying positions depending on the language. In German and Dutch, for instance, non-finite verbs appear after the object (if one is present) in clause final position in main clauses (OV order). Swedish and Icelandic, in contrast, position non-finite verbs after the finite verb but before the object (if one is present) (VO order). That is, V2 operates on only the finite verb.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about taken from German. I don't speak German and can't make grammaticality judgments, so I'll use a prepended ? to mark sentences that I'm presuming are unacceptable.

The ordinary, unmarked word order is given below.

    Ich habe                        das         Buch gelesen.
1sg.nom have.1sg.PRES  DEF.MASC.nom/acc book.nom/acc  read.PP
      I have read the book.

Based on what I've read, I'm guessing the non-finite portion of the VP must appear in the final position. I'm pretty sure the following sentence is not acceptable even though the finite verb habe appears in the second position in the clause.

?Ich habe gelesen das Buch.

However, other orders are possible so long as the finite verb second, rest of VP last constraint is respected.

Das Buch habe ich gelesen.

The sentence I'm curious about, and have no idea about is this one ... where the non-finite part of the verb phrase is yanked from its normal position and put in the first position. If I had guess, I'd say it probably isn't grammatical because gelesen is non-final.

?Gelesen habe ich das Buch.

I'm curious whether German and other V2 languages allow that order in particular, and more generally how flexible V2 languages are about where the rest of the VP goes.

  • 1
    The sentence is unusual but not exceptional. In principle it's the structure of a relative clause, which requires inverse word order. "Ich habe das buch gelesen, aber verstanden habe ich es nicht". By analogy, one might also say, "gelesen habe ich das Buch, aber nicht verstanden". One might ask, colloquially, "was hast du?" (better though "was hast du gemacht?"), which shows that gelesen as a participle is understood as a nominal phrase, although a proper nominal phrase would be "Das Buch lesen / das Buchlesen [war meine Tätigkeit]", cp "wieder auf bauen" > "Wiederaufbau" (rebuild)
    – vectory
    Sep 14 '19 at 14:48
  • That is, I guess, "schön finde ich das Buch" has indeniably an adjective. It's equivalent to the question whether "swimming is nice/my favorite" has a verb or noun, which is underspecified eitherway (I'd say the types have to match?). One would parse "Ich habe das gelesen(e) Buch" as adjective and inflect accordingly precisely because of the V2 rule, I guess.
    – vectory
    Sep 14 '19 at 14:54

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