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The interrogative complementiser oft / as

The complementiser oft / as can be used to introduce a yes/no question:

Example 1

a. Hja wist net oft guon har sjoen hiene
she knew not if some her seen had.PL
She did not know whether somebody had seen her
b. Wy witte net as hy like gek op froulju is as syn heit
we know not if he as c razy for women is as his father
We do not know if he is as crazy about women as his father

This complementiser can be found following a sentence-initial constituent containing an interrogative pronoun, with varying degrees of frequency. So the Frisian Language Corpus (FLC) features the following frequencies:

Table 1
Cliticised complementiser Frequency in FLC Full complementiser oft Frequency in FLC Translation
wa't > 2000 wa oft 2 who
wat > 2000 wat oft 2 what
wêrom't > 400 wêrom oft 7 why
hoe't > 5000 hoe oft 76 how
wannear't > 500 wannear oft 5 when
wêr't > 1900 wêr oft 7 where
dy't > 5000 dy oft 0 who (REL)
The form wêrom why as a whole seems to count as an interrogative pronoun, that is, the preposition contained in it is not syntactically active.

The form wat't what + COMP is not attested, presumably because a sequence of two t's is phonologically reduced to one t. The complementiser oft is never found following the relative clause marker used for persons, dy. So it seems that this complementiser is only found following items which can function as interrogative pronouns.

Furthermore, the occurrence of the full complementiser may be sensitive to the type of clause which it introduces. In the following example, the complementiser oft may not be used to introduce a factive free relative clause (Hoekstra (1989)):

Example 2

*Wannear oft se moksels yt, wurdt se siik
when COMP she mussels eats becomes she ill
When she eats mussels, she becomes ill

The following sentence features an embedded question, and here the use of the interrogative complementiser is grammatical.

Example 3

Hy frege my wannear oft de lêste trein fuortgie
he asked me when COMP the last train left
He asked me when the last train would leave
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989The split CP hypothesis and the Frisian complementiser system