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The existential quantifier referring to time is the pronoun ea (or oait, which was borrowed from Dutch in the 18th century). Ea became obsolete around 1700, but it was re-introduced in the Frisian language by proponents of the Frisian Movement in the early nineteenth-century. Nowadays it is mainly confined to written language.


This quantifier behaves like a negative polarity item in some respects. In referential contexts, it seems, the item ienris one time > once is used, but the actual situation is more complex, and depends also on the accompanying modal particles. This should be further investigated. On this item in older stages of the Frisian language, see Hoekstra (2012).

  • Hoekstra, Eric, Slofstra, Slofstra & Versloot, Arjen P2012Changes in the use of the Frisian quantifiers EA/OAIT 'ever' between 1250 and 1800Ans van Kemenade & Haas, Nynke de (eds.)Historical Linguistics 2009. Selected papers from the 19th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, 10-14 August 2009Current Issues in Linguistic Theory171-189