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4.7 Partitive predication with a preposition

An example of a partitive predication with a preposition is provided below:

Iek biduurje do äärme Bloudere [fon Bäidene].
I pity the poor bloods of children
I pity the poor worms of children.

The semantically predicative NP has been underlined. Syntactically, it is the main NP. The semantic subject of the predication has been bracketed. It is contained in a PP headed by fon ‘of’. Syntactically, it has been subordinated. Thus a partitive predication consists of three elements from left to right:

  • A NP functioning as a semantic predicate
  • The preposition fon ‘of’
  • A prepositional object functioning as a semantic subject.

Below more information on this construction is provided.


In the example above, the construction is in the plural, that is, both the predicative NP and the subject NP are in the plural, much as in the following example, which comes close to paraphrasing the example in (1):

Do Bäidene sunt äärme Bloudere.
the children are poor things
The children are poor things.

In the partitive predication in (1), the predicative NP is preceded by the definite article whereas the subject NP appears as an indefinite NP, even though semantically Bäidene ‘children’ gets a definite interpretation, since definite, specific children are involved.

The difference between (1) and (2) seems to be that the partitive predication involves a metaphorical element: the children are likened to poor things. This is even clearer in the following example:

’n Boom fon ’n Käärdel.
a tree of a man
A tree of a man.

The phrase can be more correctly paraphrased as follows:

Die Käärdel is as ‘n Boom.
the man is like a tree
The man is like a tree.

Note that the two NPs of the partitive predication have the same number. They are either both in the singular or both in the plural. The use of the construction is lexically restricted to certain nouns which characteristically appear in the predicative (partitive) part of the construction, such as Bloudere ‘bloods’, Boom ‘tree’, and so on.

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