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4.3 The numerical partitive construction

The numeral partitive construction consists of a numeral noun and a content noun, which may be joined by a preposition. An example is given below:

Do häbe [twäin fon do Skooijere] fernumen.
they have two of the scoundrels interrogated
They interrogated two of the scoundrels.

The prepositional partitive construction requires that the content noun is definite. The numeral can be modified by a restricted class of elements, and the numeral determines agreement on the verb. The content noun may only be modified by adjectives and it does not determine agreement on the verb.

We will discuss several aspects of numerical constructions in the sections below.

[+]1. The prepositional numerical construction

The prepositional numerical construction requires the content noun to be definite. The preposition must be present if the content noun is definite. Leaving out the preposition is ungrammatical:

*Twäin do Skooijere.
two the scoundrels
Two of the scoundrels.

However, the preposition must be absent if the content noun is realised as a bare plural, which implies that it is indefinite:

Twäin Skooijere.
two scoundrels
Two scoundrels.
*Twäin fon Skooijere.
two of scoundrels
Two scoundrels.

The construction above can be referred to as a bare numerical construction since the numeral is directly joined to the noun. The numeral determines the agreement on the tensed verb:

Twäin fon do Deelniemere sunt ap’t Skip kroank wuden.
two.PL of the participants are.PL on.the ship ill become
Two of the participants got ill on the ship.
Dät kwied aan fon do Dregunere.
that said.SG one.SG of the policemen
One of the policemen said that.

In both cases, the PP is plural, but the numeral triggers singular agreement in the last example and plural agreement in the first example of the pair above.

[+]2. Modification and agreement of the numeral construction

The attributive numeral may not be modified by adjectives, but it may be modified by some modifiers such as sowät ‘roughly’, rund ‘round’, bloot ‘just, only’:

Ju Kiste wächt sowät hundert Puund.
the chest weighs almost hundred pound
The chest weighs almost hundred pounds.
Iek wiel bloot twintich Euro häbe.
I wanted just twenty Euro have
I wanted to have just twenty euro.

Numerals may also be preceded by a definite article or demonstrative:

Ju waas uum do twintich herume.
she was about the twenty round
She was around twenty.
Do bee Brure.
the both brothers
The two brothers.

The numeral can also be used without a following noun, as in the following examples:

Hie ropt se alle tjoon ap.
he calls them all ten up
He calls all ten of them.
Du skääst tjoon Stuk ouluke, dan häst du noch füüftich
you must ten pieces subtract then have you still fifty
you must subtract ten pieces; then you still have fifty.
Alle bee ferstuden deer niks fon.
all both understood it nothing of
Both of them understood nothing of it.

Numerals and numerical quantifiers may be found in argument positions, as in the examples above, but they may also be found as adverbial modifiers of VP:

Wie sieten alle bee ap dän Boank.
we sat all both on the bench
We both sat on the couch.

This phenomenon is also referred to as quantifier float. The quantifier (numeral) semantically modifies a NP (here the subject wie ‘we’) without being contained in that NP. It has so to speak floated off the NP into the VP.

Complex numerals may be built in various ways. Two examples are given below:

Träi bit fjauer Goange.
three to four hallways
Three to four hallways.
Unnerrokke ... träi fjauer Stuk hied ze sicher oane.
Petticoats three four pieces had she sure on
Petticoats, she certainly wore three four pieces.

In the first example, two numerals are built into a complex numeral by means of the preposition bit ‘to, till’. In the second example, numerals are simply strung together, or stacked, and yielding a disjunctive interpretation. A conjunctive interpretation would of course lead to a contradiction.

[+]3. The content noun in the numeral partitive construction

The content noun following a numeral has little possibilities of modification. It may be modified by adjectives. It may not be modified by a quantifier, nor by a demonstrative. The content noun in the numeral partitive construction does not determine agreement on the verb.

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