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Indefinite quantifiers proper
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Indefinite quantifiers include words like guonsome, ferskateseveral and more complex cases like in prottea lot and net follenot much.

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Indefinite quantifiers cannot be directly combined with numerals:

Example 1

*Guon tweintich bern
some twenty children
Some twenty children

Indefinite quantifiers can be directly combined with nouns:

Example 2

Guon bern
some children
Some children

They also feature regularly as the nominal head of a partitive construction (see also noun ellipsis):

Example 3

Guon fan 'e bern
some of the children
Some of the children

Guonsome differs from sommige(n)some. Sommige(n)some always refers back to an antecedent whereas guonsome can be used without an antecedent. In case it is used without an antecedent, it must refer to humans. So, guonsome can be used to introduce persons which have not been mentioned before:

Example 4

a. Der binne guon by de doar
there are some at the door
There are people at the door
b. Der binne guon dy't gjin weet fan God hawwe
there are some who no knowledge of God have
There are people who do not know about God

Guonsome may be considered to be the plural counterpart of ienone. Ienone can also be used to refer to a person in case it does not have an antecedent within the preceding discourse:

Example 5

Der is ien by de doar
there is one at the door
There is someone at the door

When used before an overt noun, quantifiers ending in schwa may be appended with a -n in case they are used on their own:

Example 6

a. Sommige feintsjes laken
some boys laughed
Some boys laughed
b. Sommige(n) laken
some laughed
Some laughed

There is considerable variation here. Three factors affect the choice of -e versus -n in case the indefinite quantifier occurs on its own:

  • the specific quantifier that is involved (ferskate versus somlike, sommige, inkelde, and so on)
  • the nature of the quantifier's antecedent (person or thing)
  • the construction in which the quantifier is found
The medium degree quantifiers ferskateseveral and ferskillendeseveral are more often found with a schwa than the low degree quantifiers somlikesome, sommigesome, inkeldesome.

Furthermore, an independently used quantifier is more often written with an -n if it refers to a personal antecedent. Thirdly, an independently used quantifier is more often written with an -e in case it is used in a partitive construction. An example of a partitive construction is given below:

Example 7

Sommige fan har hiene skuonmakker of polysje west
some of them had shoemaker or policeman been
Some of them had been shoemakers or policemen

This variation also extends to the definite quantifier beideboth. No such issues arise with the native quantifiers guonsome and gânsquite a lot. Guonsome has quite a few nominal forms, such as guons and guont.

Gâns is a high degree quantifier. It can be used as a nominal form as well, but then it has an inanimate reading, not an animate one:

Example 8

a. Se hiene gâns mei him belibbe
they had a.lot with him gone.through
They had gone through quite a lot with him
b. *Se hiene gâns der fan oertsjûge dat it wier wie
they had a.lot it.R of convinced that it true was
They had convinced a lot of them of it being true

The meaning of gâns seems to be similar to that of high degree quantifiers such as in soada lot:

Example 9

a. Se hienen gâns bern en bernsbern
they had a.lot children and grandchildren
They had a lot of children and grandchildren
b. Se hienen in soad bern en bernsbern
they had a lot children and grandchildren
They had a lot of children and grandchildren

However, gâns is a positive polarity item whereas in soad (and variants such as in protte, in bulte) is not, given that gâns cannot co-occur with clause negation:

Example 10

a. *Se hienen net gâns bern en bernsbern
they had not a.lot children and grandchildren
They did not have a lot of children and grandchildren
b. Se hienen net in soad bern en bernsbern
they had not a lot children and grandchildren
They did not have a lot of children and grandchildren

Gâns likewise fails to co-occur with negative constituents:

Example 11

*Gjinien hie gâns oantekeningen makke
nobody had a.lot notes made
Nobody had made a lot of notes

Furthermore, gânsquite (a lot), just like hielwhole, may modify the quantifier wata bit:

Example 12

a. Der giet gâns wat yn him om
there goes quite a.bit in him around
His mind is full of thoughts
b. Der giet hiel wat yn him om
there goes quite a.bit in him around
His mind is full of thoughts
c. *Der giet in soad wat yn him om
there goes a lot a.bit in him around
His mind is full of thoughts

The same is true in case wata bit is used to modify a noun:

Example 13

a. Dy hat al gâns wat turven yn syn libben makke
he has DcP quite a.bit lumps.of.peat in his life made
In his life, he has made quite a lot of lumps of peat
b. Dy hat al hiel wat turven yn syn libben makke
he has DcP quite a.bit lumps.of.peat in his life made
In his life, he has made quite a lot of lumps of peat
c. *Dy hat al in soad wat turven yn syn libben makke
he has DcP a.lot a.bit lumps.of.peat in his life made
In his life, he has made quite a lot of lumps of peat

Gâns can be used to emphasize the high degree reading of the indefinite determiner before a plural:

Example 14

Dy man hat gâns in hinnen
that man has quite a chickens
That man has quite a lot of chickens

Gâns can be omitted in this example, provided that the sentence changes from normal to rising intonation:

Example 15

Dy man hat in hinnen!
that man has a chickens
That man has a whole lot of chickens!

Gâns must be absent in the exclamative construction in which the high degree Noun Phrase (NP) is preposed and relativised:

Example 16

a. In hinnen dat er hat!
a chickens that he has
That man has a whole lot of chickens!
b. *Gans in hinnen dat er hat!
quite a chickens that he has
That man has a whole lot of chickens!

Perhaps related to its status as a positive polarity item is the fact that gâns resists modification of NPs denoting the low end of a scale:

Example 17

a. Hy is gâns in keardel
he is quite a man
He is quite a man
b. *Hy is gâns in sipel
he is quite an onion
He is quite a fool

In this respect, gâns resembles hielwhole:

Example 18

a. Do bist in hiele keardel
you are a whole man
You are quite a man
b. *Do bist in hiele sipel
you are a whole onion
You are quite a fool

To express the intended meaning in the last example, the adjective gruttebig must be used:

Example 19

Do bist in grutte sipel
you are a big onion
You are quite a fool
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x Literature

More details on indefinite quantifiers proper can be found in Hoekstra (1987) and Hoekstra (2011).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1987Guon, ien, wat, waFriesch Dagblad11-04Taalsnipels 28
  • Hoekstra, Jarich2011In bytsje oer gâns. In lytse bydrage ta de stúdzje fan it Fryske kwantifisearderssysteemIt Beaken73103-128
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