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With expletive object (it drok praten hawwe be busy talking)

The verb hawwe have is able to provide the outer structure for a transitive complementive predication, which features an expletive as the subject of predication. The subject of predication has the function of direct object in the outer structure.


Hawwe have features in a construction built around the adjective drok busy and an expletive:

Dat hja it ûnderweis tige drok praten hiene, lit him wol tinke
that they it on.the.way very busy talking had lets him indeed think
You can guess that they were very busy talking on their way there

The adjective seems to function as an adverb. As is clear from the example above, the adjective may be premodified. It is followed by a verb. The verb is unaccompanied by arguments or modifiers, and it has the form of a gerund. In nineteenth-century Frisian, the dummy or expletive pronoun in object position could remain absent. The verb may be accompanied by an Adposition Phrase (PP), provided that the PP is extraposed, as shown in the example below:

a. *Omdat se it drok praten oer keatsen hiene
because they it busy talking about play.fives had
Because they were busy talking about playing fives
b. Omdat se it drok praten hiene oer keatsen
because they it busy talking had about play.fives
Because they were busy talking about playing fives

Verbs entering this construction are action verbs like dokterjen cure, heal, boartsjen play, although there are also examples with sjen see. Objects can only be present in case they are incorporated into the verb. Adjectives entering this construction are, for example, maklik easy, swier difficult, skoan pleasant. Possibly related are constructions like the following:

a. Hy hie lang sykjen
he had long searching
He took a lot of time to search (for something or somebody)
b. Do hast maklik praten
you have easy talking
It is easy for you to talk
c. It is moai wenjen op 'e Lemmer
it is nice living at De Lemmer
Living in De Lemmer is nice


More details can be found in Hoekstra (1998).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Oer it ûntstean en de struktuer fan 'e 19de-ieusk Nijfryske konstruksje 'it drok praten hawwe'Us wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk4749-61
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