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3.5 Other constructions of modification of AP

There are some remaining constructions involving the modification of APs. Some of them are not limited to APs. Others are minor idiomatic constructions. On comparison, metaphor and high degree, see: High degree specification by functional so ‘so’.


The following sections present various aspects of constructions involving modification:

[+]1. Litotes and AP

Litotes is a figure of speech, by which a positive property is expressed by the negation of its antonym, which normally denotes a negatively valued property. This means that the negative property is reversed, resulting in a positive statement. An example is given below:

Nit min koom et foar dat jo Monljude meenomen.
not little came it for that they men along.took
It often happened that they took along men.

The phenomenon is also found with other syntactic categories. Below is an example with a PP:

Du koast so wät nit sunder Betoank dwo.
you can so what not without consultation do
You can’t do such a thing without consulting first.

Here the negative Preposition and negation yields an interpretation in which the two negations cancel each other. Nevertheless, (2) is not equivalent to (3):

Du koast so wät mäd Betoank dwo.
you can so what with consultation do
You can do such a thing with consulting first.

Thus the workings of negation in natural language are quite subtle. In the example above, the sentential negation also interacts with the modal verbs, which may explain the difference in meaning between the last two sentences.

[+]2. Pronominalisation and AP

An adjective, once used in an AP, can anaphorically be pronominalised. An example is given below:

"So", kwied die Koaster, "Jie wollen klouker weze as iek?" "Jä”, dät bän iek uk!" kwied die Buur.
so said the schoolmaster jou want smarter be than I Yes that am I also said the farmer
“So”, said the schoolmaster, “you want to be smarter than me?” “Yes”, said the farmer, “And so I am.”

The pronoun dät ‘that’ is generally used to pronominalise various impersonal syntactic categories.

[+]3. Exclamative and AP

An AP may be used in an exclamative expression to express a high degree interpretation. Exclamatives are often introduced by interrogative pronouns such as wät ‘what’ and wo ‘how’. Wo ‘how’ is used with adjectives that are not used attributively. An example is given below:

Wo ‘how’ must be adjacent to the AP which it modifies. Wät ‘what’, in contrast, needs not be not adjacent to the AP which it modifies. As a result, it can be more generally used, for example, to modify attributive adjectives. An example is given below:

Wo jädden sunt wie fröier deer waigeen.
how eagerly are we earlier there to.gone
How we loved to go there in earlier times!
Grootmuur, wät hääst du grote Ore!
grandmother what have you great ear
Grandmother, how big are your ears!

Here the interrogative word at the beginning of the clause is responsible for a high degree interpretation of the attributively used adjective embedded in the object NP.

A very similar construction is minimally different in suggesting an interpretation asking after a kind of objects instead of the objects themselves. An example is given below:

Wät hääst du foar flugge Hazen!
what have you for nice hares
How nice are the hares you have!

Here the exclamative interrogative is separated from the NP, or more specifically from the AP, which it modifies. However, they may also be found together at the beginning of the clause. The construction features the adposition foar ‘for’, preceding the NP containing the AP that is modified by the exclamative question word. The NP inside PP is a plural indefinite that is not accompanied by determiners, numerals or quantifiers, presumably because of its kind interpretation.

Finally, this exclamative can also be used with predicative adjectives:

Mon, wät waas iek bliede!
man what was I glad
Man, how glad I was!

The interrogative pronoun is again separated from the AP which it modifies.

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