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The verb sille shall and word order in the verbal cluster in nineteenth-century Frisian

Verb clusters without a to-infinitive are systematically head-final in Modern Frisian, so that the tensed verb appears at the end of the cluster. However, deviant word orders are found in the 19th century and earlier just in case the three-verb clusters contains a tensed verb that belongs to the paradigm of sille shall. An example is given below:

Example 1

Wat ik hjir oan dwaan soe kinne is dit
what I here about do.OI would can.OI is this
What I could do about this is this

The tensed verb does not appear at the end of the cluster, but in the middle. The modal verb kinne can is in a head-initial relation to the tensed verb formally selecting it.


Three-verb clusters may display two types of deviant orders just in case they contain a tensed verb that belongs to the paradigm of sille shall. Most examples involve the past tense of the verb. The examples in (2) illustrate the order: main verb – tensed verb – modal infinitive, in which the tensed verb is head –initial with respect to the head of its complement.

Example 2

a. Dat hja der net mear komme soe doare, lit stean, wenje soe wolle
that she there not anymore come would dare let stand live would want
That she would not dare to come there anymore, let alone, would want to live there
b. Dêr't men oars hast ûnder beswike soe moatte
which one otherwise almost beneath succumb soe must
Which one would otherwise very nearly have to succumb to

The examples in (3) illustrate a second order that deviates from the rigid head-final order that normally occurs in Frisian verb clusters not containing the infinitival marker te to. This second order can be schematically represented as the following sequence: tensed verb – main verb – modal infinitive, in which the tensed verb is head –initial with respect to both heads contained in its complement.

Example 3

a. Ik tocht oars net datst it soest weagje doare
I thought otherwise not that.you it would venture dare
I did not think that you would dare venture it
b. As men him tsjin hat, kin men der neat fan witte wat er ús soe brouwe kinne
if one him against has can one R nothing of know what he us would brew could
If we have him against us, there is no knowing what he could come up with to thwart us

Most examples involve the past tense of the irrealis verb, but there are also examples involving the present tense of this verb, as shown below:

Example 4

a. Jim hoeve nea te tinken dat jim it sa dalik yn de pong sille fiele kinne
you need never to think that you it so soon in the wallet shall feel can
You need never be afraid that you will soon be going to feel it in your wallet
b. Dat ik jimmeroan troch alderhanne fijannen sil oerfallen wurde kinne
that I continually by various enemies shall assaulted be can
That I can continually be assaulted by all kinds of enemies

The last example involves a four-verb cluster.