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Agreement following possessors

Possessive pronouns in Standard Frisian trigger strong agreement, although this is beginning to change to weak agreement.


Possessive pronouns in Standard Frisian trigger strong agreement. The following example illustrates this for the neuter singular:

Example 1

Har giel mûtske
her yellow.CG bonnet.DIM.CG
Her yellow bonnet

The following example illustrates this for the plural:

Example 2

Har giele mûtskes
her yellow.PL bonnet.DIM.PL
Her yellow bonnets

The following example illustrates this for the common singular:

Example 3

Har giele mûts
her yellow.CG bonnet.CG
Her yellow bonnet

In this respect, Standard Frisian differs from Dutch, where possessive pronouns trigger weak agreement. Possessive pronouns themselves never exhibit agreement. They have one form regardless of whether the following noun is singular or plural, neuter or common.

Table of possessive pronouns:

Table 1
1SG 2SG 3SG 3SG,FEM 1PL 2PL 3PL 2 Formal 3 ARB
myn my dyn your syn his, its har her ús our jim your har their jo your jins your
The adjective following the possessor doubled by a possessive pronoun in (4a) conforms to the schwa-addition scheme for strong attributive agreement, as does the genitival construction in (4b) and (4c):

Example 4

a. Ús Froukje har ljocht hier
our Froukje her light.NG hair
The light hair of our Froukje
b. Beppe-s giel mûtske
grandmother.GEN yellow bonnet.DIM
Grandmother's yellow bonnet
c. Jelle-en-dy's wrak spultsje
Jelle-and-those.GEN crestfallen place
Jelle and his family's ramshackle business

However, all possessor constructions may nowadays exhibit weak agreement under the influence of Dutch, so that adjectives following possessors are invariably marked with schwa. This change strengthens the association between weak agreement and definiteness, since possessors are generally definite. Note that there is no strong relation between strong agreement and indefinitiness, seeing that elk each triggers strong agreement in Frisian and Dutch, without being indefinite.

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More details can be found in Hoekstra (1989).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989Ús nij hûsFriesch Dagblad08-07Taalsnipels 113