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Indefinite article + nominal quantifier of vague amount

Quantifiers of vague amount, consisting of the indefinite article and an amount noun, can be separated from the partitive adjective with which they are construed. The adjective must be a subjective adjective.


Frisian, like other Germanic languages, productively forms relative nominal quantifier nouns denoting a high or low quantity by combining the indefinite article with an appropriate lexical noun. The process is much less productive for nominal quantifiers denoting a low quantity than for nominal quantifiers denoting a high quantity.

High quantity: in protte, in soad, in massa, in bulte, in fracht a lot

Low quantity: in bytsje a little

a. In soad oantreklik-s
a lot attractive.PA
A lot of attractive things
b. In bytsje feestlik-s
a bit festive.PA
A bit festive

The high quantity Noun Phrase (NP) construction is more often used in Frisian than in Dutch, because the synonym folle much, many is a negative polarity item in Frisian, whereas the equivalent veel much, many is not in Dutch. Semantically, wat moais something beautiful refers to a single beautiful thing, whereas in protte moais lot of beautiful things refers to a large number of beautiful things. So, the latter can be said to be the plural of the former, although both are grammatically singular for verb agreement in case they appear in subject position.

The quantifier nouns resist premodification by an adjective, unless the adjective is of the same nature as the quantifier itself, that is, a relative (or subjective) adjective vaguely denoting a high or low amount or degree:

a. In hiele / ûnbidige soad oantreklik-s
a very / terrific lot attractive.PA
A great / terrific lot of attractive things
b. *In reade / Ingelske soad oantreklik-s
a red / English lot attractive.PA
A red / English lot of attractive things
c. In lyts bytsje oantreklik-s
a small bit attractive.PA
A little bit attractive
d. *In reade / Ingelske bytsje oantreklik-s
a red / English bit attractive.PA
A red / English bit of attrictive things

The combinations hiele soad very much and lyts bytsje little bit are almost idiomatic. As a result, the phrase lyts bytsje little bit may be shortened to libytsje little bit in its quantifier interpretation. Existential quantified nouns can be separated from the partitive adjectives to which they belong, provided the partitive adjectives are subjective adjectives:

Mar moais ha wy doe dochs ek wol in heap sjoen
but nice have we then but also indeed a lot seen
But we did see a lot of nice things
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