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5.1 Intransitive predication

The external argument of an intransitive predication is realised as the structural subject of the clause. Intransitive complementive predication involves the copular use of an intransitive verb with an Adposition Phrase (PP). A copula is a verb that assists in predicating a phrase of its external argument. An example is given below:

Do Bäidene moasten deer smäl an bieloangs.
the children must R.it tight to at.along
The children had to live extremely frugally.

Here the PostP is predicated of the subject. The PostP is complex, consisting of the complex postposition bieloangs ‘at along’ and a PreP. The preposition an ‘to’ has been turned into a postposition because its internal argument is realised as an R-pronoun. The type of predication discussed here is by definition complementive (as opposed to supplementive or adverbial predication).

Intransitive predication features the following classes of copulas:

  1. Aspectual verbs of being such as weze ‘be’ and sitte ‘sit’ or of becoming such as wäide ‘become’.
  2. Modal verbs such as moute ‘must’.
  3. Resultative verbs of motion
  4. Evidential verbs such as läite ‘appear’.

These will be discussed in turn below.

[+]1. Intransitive predication with aspectual verbs of being and becoming

Aspectual verbs of being include: weze ‘to be’, blieuwe ‘to stay’. They are traditionally referred to as copulas. These also includes verbs of body position such as sitte ‘to sit’, läze ‘to lie’, stounde ‘to stand’ and hongje ‘to hang’. They may combine with all sorts of PPs, that is, with prepositional phrases (PreP), postpositional phrases (PostP), and with bare adpositions (BadP). Consider the following examples illustrating each of these subcategories:

Postpositional Phrase:
Die Boom stoant fjauer Meter fon dät Huus ou.
the tree stands four meter of the house off
The tree is four meters from the house.
Prepositional Phrase:
Die Woain stoant strom an ju Sträite.
the car stands close to the street
The car is close to the street.
Bare Adpositional Phrase:
Do Tuvvelke stounde al loange ou.
the potatoes stand already long off
The potatoes have long since been boiled and drained.

The BadP is quite idiomatic, as is relatively often the case with bare adpositions. In West Frisian, the verb weze ‘to be’ can be combined with a to-infintive denoting an activity, This so-called absentive construction entails that the subject of the infinitive is absent. No such construction seems to exist in Saterland Frisian, though. An absentive interpretation is characteristically expressed by means of the bare adposition wäch ‘away’, a borrowing from Low German. The native adposition wai ‘(away) to’ is more frequently used with a prepositional phrase. It is difficult to express the semantic and syntactic differences between these two adpositions. Their distribution seems to be the outcome of a subtle form of competition. When used as bare adpositions, there are minimal pairs, like the following:

Table 1
Wächbale mislead by words Waibale talk with enthusiasm
Wächkonne be fit to be thrashed Waikonne be able to get by
Wächreke give away Waireke present, sacrifice
Wächgunge go away Waigunge go somewhere

A systematic list should be drawn up and studied with respect to actual language use. The examples suggest as a first hypothesis that ch ‘away’ is associated with diminishment of presence, locational and otherwise, whereas wai is associated with change of presence. Hence wai ‘way’ is frequently found with a PreP specifying the new location, which is new information. In contrast, wäg ‘away’ is only sometimes found with a PP specifiying the old location, since the old location usually does not need to be specified. Two examples illustrating this difference are given below:

Ju gungt stil uur dät Melöär wäch.
she goes quietly over the misfortune away
She quietly glosses over the misfortune.
Do Oolden fon Jesus genen älke Jier ätter Jerusalem wai.
the parents of Jezus went each year to Jerusalem away
The parents of Jesus went every year to Jerusalem.

The example with wäch ‘away’ involves a permanent going away from, with a negative connocation, whereas wai ‘away’ just involves a temporary change (here: of location).

Aspectual verbs of becoming or change such as wäide ‘become’ are not frequently used with PPs, but rather with APs. The characteristic verb of change of location is gunge ‘go’, which characteristically combines with PPs. This verb can be used to express change with PPs which receive a more abstract interpretation than just location. The following example illustrates the use of gunge ‘go’ as a verb of change:

Dät gungt uut de Moude.
it goes out the fashion
It goes out of fashion.

Here the meaning of gunge ‘go’ clearly involves a non-locational change, which is other wise characteristic of wäide ‘become’. Gunge characteristically combines with stative verbs to express a change of location:

Skikke ap dän Boank ap, dät iek sitte gunge kon.
move up the couch up that I sit go can
Move over on the couch, then I can sit down.

Other prototypical verbs of motion are similarly used, such as kume ‘come’.

[+]2. Intransitive predication with modal verbs

Modal verbs include moute ‘must’, konne ‘can’, hougje ‘need’, dure ‘dürfen’, wolle ‘want’, and somewhat marginally, muge ‘may’. The stem of the past tense of muge ‘may’ is the same as the onset and nucleus of the secondary stem of the verb moute ‘must’. This is then another instance of suppletion. Modals can be used as intransitive copulas. Some examples are given below:

Die Stoul kon wäch.
that chair can away
That chair can be thrown away.
Hie kon mäd sien Jeeld juust wai.
he can with his money right away
He can just get by with his money.
Wie mouten mäiden ätter dän Ogendokter wai.
we must tomorrow to the eyedoctor away
We have to go and see the eye doctor tomorrow.
Do litje Winkele konnen juun do grote Määrkede nit an.
the small shops can against the big supermarkets not to
The small shops cannot compete with the big markets.

The examples are either plainly locative, such as the first and the third examples, or they are more idiomatic, such as the second and the fourth example.

[+]3. Intransitive predication with resultative verbs of motion

Motional verbs obviously result in a change of location, such as Rääd fiere ‘to cycle’. An example is given below:

Wie sunt in trjo Uren fon Lier ätter Ooldenburich Rääd fíerd.
we are in three hourse of Lier to Ooldenburig bike gone
We cycled in three hours from Leer to Oldenburg.

Activity verbs can be used as verbs of motion which result in a change of location, as in the following example:

Iek wol deer nit waidoansje, bloot uum dät bitje Jeeld tou hoaljen.
I want there not away.dance just for that bit money to get
I don’t want to go there in a hurry, just to get that little bit of money.

These examples also illustrate that motional verbs which are resultative form their perfect tense with the verb to be, and not with the verb to have.

[+]4. Intransitive predication with evidentials

Evidential verbs, or evaluative verbs, are verbs like läite ‘look like, appear’ are evaluative verbs. They may also be referred to as evidential verbs. The verb läite ‘look like’ selects a PP in case it expresses resemblance:

Hie lät ätter sin Babe.
he looks after his father
He looks like his father.

Otherwise evidential verbs combine with APs rather than PPs, as in the following example:

In Tjuustergen läite alle Katte gries.
in dark appear all cats grey
All cats look grey in the dark.

The following evidential verb, based on a verb of visual perception, combines a bare PP with an AP as its basic idiomatic structure:

Et sjucht läip uut.
it looks bad out
It doesn’t look well.

This evidential idiom is especially used for illnesses. Consider also the following example, with a different verb of perception, which can be more generally used:

Hie is heel uurs, as hie uut-kikt.
he is very different as he out-looks
He is rather different from what he looks like.

Here the AP is the target of a comparative clause introduced by as ‘than, as’. Below is given a highly idiomatic example of an intransitive evidential:

Hiere Moantel kumt uut’t Rode.
her coat comes from.the red
Her coat seem to be reddish.

A similar construction also exists in West Frisian featuring the verb skine ‘shine’. The construction is limited to prepositional complements denoting a colour.

Evidentiality can also be expressed by means of a phrase headed by the word as ‘as’. This word indicates that the predication mediated by the copula is interpreted as an evidential. An example is given below:

Man heert hie ap ju Meente nit, dan läit him foar die as ‘n Hedenmon of ‘n Tolner weze.
but hears he on the brothers not then let him for you as a heathen or a tax.collector be
But if he doesn’t listen to the brothers, then let him be for you as a heathen or a tax collector.

In this example, the PP is a complement of the copula rather than an adverbial.

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