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5.2 Noun ellipsis

Constructions featuring noun ellipsis have a determiner or an adjective without a noun being present. An example has been given below:

‘n Poor fon do gjucht litje.
a couple of the.PL very small.NE
A couple of the very small ones.

The word left adjacent to the elided noun may exhibit constructional inflection characteristic of noun ellipsis. In Saterland Frisian, however, the syntactically nominalised adjective always has the same ending as when an overt noun is present.


The following examples illustrate various aspects of noun ellipsis.

Hier sunt wäkke Appele.
here are which apples
Here are some apples.

This example shows that the interrogative pronoun wäkke(r) ‘which’ is interpreted as an indefinite pronoun meaning ‘some’ in case it does not occur in sentence-initial position. There are also some traces of this phenomenon in West Frisian. The following sentence continues the discourse started above.

Et rakt swäite un sure.
it gives sweet and sour
There are sweet and sour ones.

The adjectives have the same agreement which they would have had, if the noun Appele ‘apples’ had been present. The following sentence concludes the discourse:

Iek häbe ljauer ‘n swäiten as ‘n suren.
I have rather a sweet.MSC.SG than a sour.MSC.SG
I prefer a sweet one rather than a sour one.

The elided noun is masculine. The adjective is preceded by the indefinite determiner. The adjective is marked for gender agreement, since it is governed by the indefinit determiner. This determiner is one of the determiners triggering gender agreement on following adjectives. Another example of this type is given below:

Wie häbe sun brunen.
we have such.a.MSC.SG brown.MSC.SG
We have such a brown one.

Here the antecedent has been mentioned before, in the previous sentence. It is the word Hoangst ‘horse’, a masculine word.

Uus Oalerk is ‘n roaren.
our Oalerk is a strange.MSC.SG
Our Oalerk is a strange fellow.

Here there is no antecedent noun like ‘fellow’, but the predicative construction makes it clear that the reference is to a male person named Oalerk, and the gender of the name of a man (Oalerk) is masculine. All these examples involve determiners triggering gender agreement. In contrast, the following examples involve determiners not triggering gender agreement on the adjective.

Die eerste Räid is die bääste.
the.MSC.SG first advice is the best
The first advice is the best.

The definite determiner fails to trigger gender agreement on following adjectives, regardless of whether noun ellipsis has taken place or not. All in all, noun ellipsis does not have any effect whatsoever on the agreement on the adjective.

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