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3.3 Excessive degree

The excessive degree construction is built on the function word tou ‘too’. If it is not associated with a following phrase specifying its excessive degree, then this degree is inferred from the pragmatic context.

Ju koande unnerjuwiele sin Tjukkop bloot tou goud.
she knew meanwhile his thick.face almost too good
Meanwhile she knew his fat face almost too well.

As the construction does not specify the excessive degree, this degree is pronominal, and it can be inferred from the context. The contextual inferral would be something like: she knew his fat face too well to be able to bear it. Furthermore, excessive degree entails high degree.


The excessive construction may be associated with an implicit or explicit animate argument, for whom the degree is excessive. Two examples are provided below:

Uumdät jo mie tou groot sunt.
because you me too big are
Because they are too big for me.
Hie is mie tou min.
he is me too insufficient
He is not good enough for me / in my opinion.

Here the object argument, generally animate, designates the person for whom the excessive degree happens to be the case or who sets the degree limit. We refer to this argument as the evaluator argument. If the evaluator argument is not specified, it can be inferred, as in the following example:

Hie hät ‘n bitje tou min.
he had a bit too little
He had a bit too little.

Here the evaluator argument cen be inferred to be the speaker or the subject.

The excessive construction does three things. First, it presupposes an evaluator who sets the degree limit. The evaluator may also just be the people in general. Furthermore, the excessive construction says that the degree specified by the adjective exceeds the degree limit. And thirdly, it says that this excess correlates with a state of affairs which does not hold below the degree limit. To illustrate, consider the following example:

Die Snee is tou joop. Iek kon ju Sliede nit skuwe.
the snow is too deep I can the sled not slide
The snow is too deep; I cannot slide the sled.

This excessive construction says: below the degree limit of deepness, the sled can be slidden, and above the degree limit, it cannot be slidden. Thus the construction is essentially correlative, since it correlates a binary division of the scale of deepness with another binary division: the affirmation or negation of a proposition. Below the degree limit the proposition holds (if the snow is not too deep, one can slide the sled). Above the degree limit, the negation of the proposition holds (if the snow is too deep, the sled cannot be slidden).

But as mentioned, the construction often leaves implicit what happens below and above the degree limit, except that contrary states of affairs are involved, even if the states themselves are not made explicit in the syntactic construction. Thus this construction involves a correlation between two degree stretches and two contrary states of affairs.

Negation of an excessive degree yields a low degree interpretation. An example is given below:

Dät is nit tou bääst.
that is not too best
That is not very good.
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