Wij doen altijd zo praten! De waardering van 'doen' als loos hulpwerkwoord in habituele en intentionele context

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In Dutch, the verb doen (‘do’) is sometimes used as an auxiliary verb by native speakers in informal uses of speech. Doen is, however, seen as a dummy auxiliary by prescriptive grammar, due to the absence of an additional meaningful element in the sentence when used. However, in a corpus study Cornips (1994) observed usages of doen as an auxiliary verb in specific habitual contexts. When looking at the Corpus Gesproken Nederlands, instances were found where an auxiliary doen was used in another context, besides a habitual one, called an intentional context in this study. To find out in which of these contexts native speakers of Dutch prefer the usage of doen as an auxiliary verb and how they prefer the construction compared to other grammatical taboos, an acceptability task was performed in which participants had to rate sentences on how “native” they sound. Three specific kinds of sentences were used in this experiment: sentences containing doen as an auxiliary verb, sentences containing the personal pronoun hun (‘they’) as the subject and sentences containing the construction Een van de weinige X die Y (‘One of the few X who Y’) combined with a singular finite verb. The latter ones are other grammatical taboos found in Dutch. The results show that native speakers prefer the habitual context over the intentional context when presented with doen as an auxiliary verb. Furthermore, the usage of doen as an auxiliary is rated significantly lower than both other grammatical taboos. These results argue against the prescriptive notion that doen should be classified as a dummy auxiliary verb. Further research might be necessary to explain the low rating of doen compared to the other taboos.
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