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5.3 Supplementive predication

Supplementives describe a temporary state that receives a simultaneous or conditional interpretation with respect to what is described in the clause containing the supplementive. Supplementives can be classified depending on whether their structure is bare or full-fledged. The absolute with-construction instantiates a full-fledged supplementive since it contains an overt subject. The bare supplementive phrase consists of a predicate without an overt subject within the supplementive phrase.

[+]1. Supplementive construction

A supplementive consists of an Adposition Phrase (PP) that is not subcategorised, and which may be viewed therefore as a special kind of adverbial. In such cases, the verb does not mediate a predication relation between the as-phrase and the argument. The supplementive is usually predicated of the subject, and occasionally of the direct object, while at the same time being interpreted as an adverb of manner. An example is given below:

Die Jeest koom as ‘n Duve ap him andeel.
the spirit came as a dove on him to.down
The spirit came down on him like a dove.

Here the phrase can be interpreted both as a predication of the subject and as an adverbial of manner. This is characteristic of bare supplenetives. Consider, in contrast, the following example, in which the PP is only an adverbial of manner, but not a predication of an argument, hence it is not a supplementive:

Skädjet dän Stoaf fon jou Fäite as ‘n Tjugenze juun him.
shake the dust of your feet as a testimony against them
Shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.

Here the as-phrase is predicated of the action described by the verb, which is characteristic of adverbials. It is not predicated of an argument, hence it is not a bare supplementive. The supplementive is relatively independent of the verb. Thus it contrasts with the cases in which it is an obligatory addition to a copula, as in cases of intransitive and transitive predication.

The word category of as ‘as’ is unclear. It could be a preposition, but it cannot combine with R-pronouns. Furthermore, it may also take complements of the category AP. It could also be analysed as a complementiser followed by a verbless clause, seeing that it has a propositional interpretation and that it is homophonous to the complementiser as ‘as’. In comparative contexts, it also functions as the complementiser of a verbless clause, or, a phrase with a propositional interpretation.

Other PPs can likewise be used as supplementives. An example is given below:

Sunder dät Jeeld konnen wie deer niks mäd ounfange.
without the money can we R nothing with begin
Without the money, we can’t do anything with it.

The PP headed by sunder ‘without’ can be interpreted as being predicated of the subject. Thus it can be classsified as a supplementive. It is independent of the verb.

[+]2. Verbless PP clause

The adpositions mäd ‘with’ and sunder ‘without’ are characteristically used in supplementives realised as verbless clauses. This construction type is traditionally referred to as an absolute construction. Verbless PP clauses consist of three elements:

  • The preposition of circumstance: mäd ‘with’, or its negation sunder ‘without’
  • The NP functioning as external subject
  • The PP predicated of the external subject

The predicate of a verbless clause can also be realised as a AP, see: Supplementive predication of AP (6.2). We will refer to these adpositions as clausal adpositions, though they could also be regarded as complementiser. The supplementive is predicated of an argument of the verb, but it describes at the same time a simultaneous circumstance. The verbless PP clause has as its chief characteristic that the external subject of the predicate is expressed as part of the verbless PP construction, and that the construction as a whole is predicated of an argument. To illustrate, consider the following example:

Hie ron mäd ‘n Krul in dän Stäit.
he walked with a curl in the tail
He walked with a curl in the tail.

Here the clausal adposition is followed by a subject and a predicate, which is characteristic of clauses. The verbless clause as a whole is predicated of the main clause subject. It could be objected that the complement of the clausal adposition is just a NP containing a PP. However, regardless of the syntactic analysis, it is undeniable the case that the complement of the absolute adposition has a propositional interpretation. Consider next the following example:

Mäd dän Boomstubbe in dän Ougend häbe wie dät hele Huus loange woorm.
with the tree.trunks in the oven have we the whole house long warm
With the tree trunks in the oven, we have a warm house for quite a long time.

The absolute adposition is followed by a NP and a PP, with the PP predicated of the NP. The verbless clause as a whole can be interpreted as a supplementive predication of the subject: we have tree trunks in the oven. But it also has a relation of simultaneity (and even causality here) to the proposition described in the main clause. Note that there is another predication. In the main clause the AP is predicated of a definite direct object. In the English translation, definite object and AP predicate are converted to an an indefinite object containing an attributive AP. Thus construction type and definiteness show some form of interaction, which is hard to explain. There is also an interesting idiomatic example:

Jo wieren deer Hutse mäd de Mutse uutflain.
they were R hut with the sow out.flewn
They have been threwn out all of them (with all they had).

This is not an absolute construction, strictly speaking, since there is no predication following the adsolute adposition. But the direct object and the PP form one constituent which is interpreted as a (optional) predication of the subject. The rhyme indicates its idiomatic nature. Historically, the word Hutse probably meant ‘hut’, referring to the contents of the hut. An older Saterland form of Hutse is Hutje, the diminutive of hut. The word Mutse probably derives from mot ‘sow’. The expression denotes a universal quantification functioning as a supplementive. Similar expressions are found in all continental West Germanic varieties.

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