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Prenominal adjectives occur in either definite or indefinite nominal phrases. In definite contexts, the adjective ends in a schwa.

Table 1
(m.) (f.) (n.) (pl.)
die flugge Disk ju flugge Bielde dät flugge Huus flugge Seken
‘the beautiful table’ (nominative) ‘the beautiful picture’ ‘a beautiful house’ ‘beautiful things’
dän flugge Disk
‘the beautiful table’(oblique)

In indefinite contexts, the adjective is subject to the historically strong inflection: masculine -en, feminine -e, neuter (zero), plural -e. It should be noted that in present day Saterland Frisian the originally Low German ending -et is often used before neuter nouns, so: n flugget Huus ‘a beautiful house’.

Table 2
(m.) (f.) (n.) (pl.)
'n fluggen Disk 'n flugge Bielde 'n fluch Huus flugge Seken
‘a beautiful table’ ‘a beautiful picture’ ‘a beautiful house’ ‘beautiful things’

Usual definite contexts are nominal phrases which begin with

  • a definite article or a homophonic demonstrative determiner (die [m.nom.], dän [m.obl.] ju [f,], dät [n.], do [pl.]) ‘the, that’: ätter dän trietichjierige Kriech ‘after the thirty years war’; dät ganse Lound ‘the whole country; dän oolde Wille ‘old William’, die litje Jan ‘little John’
  • other demonstrative determiners: düsse(n), düt ‘this, these’; krie (etc.) ‘that’, juns ‘that’, etc.: apdissen säiltene Dai ‘on this rare day’
  • universal determiners: älke säkste Huus stuud noch ‘every sixth house was still intact’ (i.e. one sixth of all houses)
  • possessive determiners: sin oolde Heer ‘his old man (i.e. his father)’
  • possessors: Gräitjes froaie Kommunjoonsklöod ‘Gretchen’s nice communion dress’
  • vocatives: du äärme Kannitverstaan ‘you poor Cantunderstand’, ljowe Pyt Kramer ‘dear Pyt Kramer’, min ljowe Mon ‘my dear fellow’
  • non-expressed but presupposed definite articles: Gräine Tuunsdai ‘Maundy Thursday’; Seelterfräiske Kultuurhuus ‘Saterland Frisian culture house (a sign on the outer wall)’

Nevertheless, adjectives often feature the strong zero inflectional suffix when preceding a neuter noun, especially after possessive determiners: mien jeel Klood ‘my yellow dress’, in mien heel Lieuwend ‘in all my life’, Martiens dapper Ferhoolden ‘Martin’s brave behaviour’, mäd dät oold Skip‘with that old ship’.

It should be mentioned that inflectional -en endings are found as a result of German interference: Wie häbe do gansen seeltersken Nomen fon alle Husholgene un Familiën tehope socht’we have searched and collected all Saterland names of all families and kinship’.

Usual indefinite contexts are:

  • noun phrases which begin with an indefinite article: n oolden Mon ‘an old man’
  • semantically indefinite (generic) plural noun phrases without determiners: oolde Monljude ‘old men’
  • generic singular noun phrases (especially mass nouns): roden Wien ‘red wine’, oold Ierzen ‘old iron’, fluch Weder ‘nice weather’, bäästen Tonk ‘thanks’, froamd Foulk ‘strange people’, loang oanhooldenden Biefaal ‘long lasting applause’
  • noun phrases which begin with a negative determiner: naan prikken Koaster ‘no accurate teacher’, neen grote Buräi ‘no large farm’
  • noun phrases which begin with an indefinite determiner: monige merkwoudige Drupsteengebielde ‘many a remarkable stalactite figure’; n bitjen heet Woater ‘a little bit of hot water’
  • noun phrases which begin with an interrogative or exclamative determiner: Deer rakt dät morere Mugelkhaide, aal deer ätter, of un wät foar tjukke Buske deer mee oumäind wäide skällene. Een Motorsaise. ‘There are several possibilities, depending on whether thick pieces of wood will be cut off and what kind.’
  • noun phrases which begin with a numeral: aan Malen kon moor fräigje as tjoon Wieze beoantwoudje konnen ‘one foolish person can ask more than ten wise people can answer’; aan eensigen ljoachten Toacht ‘one moment of light’
  • predicatively used noun phrases: een Haamdeklod kriege iek ook as äärmen Mon ‘as a poor man, I will aso get a shroud’
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