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The A-construction need not semantically refer to an irrealis situation

Clauses featuring the B-construction must have an irrealis interpretation. In contrast, the A-construction, at least in present-day Modern Frisian, can have either a realis or an irrealis interpretation.


The following examples show that the A-construction can either have a realis or an irrealis reading. The first example below involves a realis interpretation, the second one an irrealis interpretation:

Example 1

a. Trochdat er hurd draafd hie, hie er de trein noch krekt helje kinnen
by.that he hard run had had he the train yet just get could.PfP
By running fast, he had just been able to catch the train
b. As er wat oanstapt hie, hie er de trein skoan helje kinnen
if he what very.walk had had he the train easily get could.PfP
If he had walked briskly, he could easily have caught the train

It should be investigated whether the A-construction was interpreted in 19th century Frisian in the same way as in present-day Frisian. Even if the A-construction had the same interpretation in the nineteenth-century as nowadays, there is still the fact that the B-construction would be used in the 19th century, possibly in contexts in which an A-construction was not a priori excluded. Possibly, the A-construction was the elsewhere case in nineteenth-century Frisian, and the B-construction was used for pragmatic or syntactic reasons wherever it could be used.