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The expression of irrealis in nineteenth-century Frisian and in Modern Frisian
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Verb clusters of three verbs consist of one main verb and two auxiliaries. Consider the case that the two auxiliaries are a modal auxiliary and an auxiliary of the perfect. There are two ways of realising such a three verb cluster, depending on which auxiliary bears tense morphology. If the auxiliary of the perfect bears tense morphology, the result is a German type three verb cluster, that is, a cluster in which the auxiliary of the perfect bears the tense and agreement morphology. An example is given below:

Example 1

Hja hie him earder fuortstjoere moatten
she had him earlier away.send.OI must.PfP
She should have sent him away earlier

The perfective auxiliary bears tense morphology. The auxiliary of the perfect selects a perfect participle, which is realised on the modal verb. The modal selects an ordinary infinitive, which is realised on the main verb. This type of construction is dominant in Standard German and Standard Dutch. It is common in Frisian nowadays. It has been called the A-construction in Hoekstra (1997) and Hoekstra (1990).

There is a second way of realising such a three verb cluster. If the modal bears tense morphology, the result is an English type three verb cluster, that is, a cluster in which the modal verb bears the tense and agreement morphology. An example is given below:

Example 2

Hja moast him earder fuortstjoerd hawwe
she must him earlier away.sent.PfP have.OI
She should have sent him away earlier

The modal auxiliary bears tense morphology. The modal selects an ordinary infinitive, which is realised on the auxiliary of the perfect. The auxiliary of the perfect selects a perfect participle, which is realised on the main verb. This type of construction is dominant in English. It occurred in nineteenth century Frisian and earlier. This construction is referred to as the B-construction. In present-day Frisian, the B-construction is restricted to a few semantic contexts. The B-construction is older than the A-construction.

The B-construction has the following characteristics: it is only found with modals, the B-construction is by and large restricted to main clauses, the A-construction need not semantically refer to an irrealis situation, some or all unaccusative main verbs have a slight preference for hawwehave as the auxiliary of the perfect in the irrealis, hence in the B-construction and the B- and A-constructions interact with verb-ellipsis.

In addition, the following characteristics may be noted: the verb silleshall plays a special part in the expression of irrealis. The irrealis can also be expressed as the past tense of the imperative. A and B constructions may contain an Imperativus-pro-Infinitivo (IPI) construction built on the past tense imperative.

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990TrijetiidwurdkonstruksjesIt beaken : meidielingen fan de Fryske Akademy5259-95
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990TrijetiidwurdkonstruksjesIt beaken : meidielingen fan de Fryske Akademy5259-95
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1997The syntax of infinitives in FrisianGroningenRijksuniversiteit GroningenThesis
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1997The syntax of infinitives in FrisianGroningenRijksuniversiteit GroningenThesis
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