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Double complementisers and reduction of the complementiser dat to /t/

Frisian regularly features double complementisers. In addition, Frisian displays reduction of the complementiser dat that to /t/.


Several complementisers such as foar before and nei after may be followed by the complementiser dat that. The complementiser may be reduced to /t/, giving rise to written forms like foar't before and nei't after. Consequently, some complementiser appear as doublets: foar't before or foardat before, nei't after or neidat after. The full forms may appear in writing either as one word neidat after or as two words nei dat after. Other doublets include omdat because or om't, meidat since or mei't, no dat now that or no't, sadat so that or sa't, There are also cases in which the reduction appears to be obligatory. Alongside the complementiser doe't when there is no alternative *doedat when. Alongside oft whether there is no of dat, but it is interesting to note that the sequence of dat whether appears in the Dutch of bilingual Frisians. The complementiser oant until does not seem to have an alternative full form *oandat until but the Frisian Language Corpus (FLC) features a few instances of oant dat until which sound quite acceptable. There are also cases in which the reduction is almost obligatory. Alongside many instances of hoewol't although the FLC features two instances of hoewol dat although both from the nineteenth-century. Likewise, the relative pronoun exhibits the reduction, but not the full form: we find dy't who, which but not *dydat who, which. For interrogative pronouns, the reduction is very frequent, but the FLC also features examples without reduction (see interrogative pronoun and the complementiser in embedded clauses). The oldest attested cases of reduction date back to the seventeenth-century, but they are rare. They seem to have come into full use towards the end of the nineteenth-century. There are also examples where only the full form is acceptable. Alongside sûnder dat without there is no *sûnder't. Alongside trochdat because of the fact that there is no *troch't. The combination sa lang't as long as is semantically equivalent to sa lang as as long as. The /t/ may be due to analogy, or the source may have been sa lang as dat. In fact, this sounds acceptable in spoken Frisian:

Example 1

Sa lang as dat er net komt, moatte wy wachtsje
so long as that he not comes must we wait
As long as he does not come, we must wait

This combination is not attested in the FLC.

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More details can be found in Dyk & Hoekstra (1987:7-43), Reuland (1978),(Dykstra et al. 1960) and the references given there.

  • Corver, Norbert1991ExtrapositieModel, Jan (ed.)Grammatische analyse: syntactische verschijnselen van het Nederlands en EngelsDordrechtICG Publications
  • Dyk, Siebren and Hoekstra, Jarich1987Ta de Fryske syntaksisFryske Akademy
  • Reuland , Eric1978Principles of subordination and construal in the grammar of DutchGroningenUniversity of GroningenThesis