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7 Adpositional complements and adverbials

PPs may function either as verbal complements or as adverbials. Verbal complements are arguments of the verb in a broad sense, whereas adverbial phrases are not. The two are distinguished by the test of adposition stranding. In case an adposition can be stranded by its complement, then it must be an argument of the verb. An example of stranding is given below:

Deer bän iek juun.
R am I against
I am against it.

The complement of the adposition is the R-pronoun, which is not adjacent to its adposition. R-pronoun cannot occur to the right of adpositions. In addition to adposition stranding, we discuss below some semantic classes of adverbial PPs.

[+]1. Stranding of adpositions governed by the verb

Stranding can only take place by complements which are R-pronouns. Furthermore, the R-pronoun cannot occur to the right of the adposition: if it is discontinuous, it must occur further to the left of its adposition. Adposition stranding is normally termed preposition stranding, because in English stranding involves prepositions. Preposition stranding is actually postposition stranding in continental West Germanic languages. Prepositions take the form of postpositions, in case their complement is realised as an R-pronoun. The R-pronoun does not have to be adjacent to the postposition, it may be placed further to the left. The result is postposition standing. Two examples are given below:

Iek häbe deer niks an heeuwed.
I have R nothing to had
It didn’t help me in any way.
Wier dät hie dät mäd?
R.Q does he it with
What does he do it with?

The adposition is stranded at the end of the middle field.

[+]2. No stranding in PPs functioning as adverbials

For more information on R-pronouns and the stranding of adpositions, see: NP > R-pronouns and the indefinite expletive (9). It doesn’t seem to be the case that adpositions can be stranded by complements which have been put at the beginning of the sentence. An R-pronoun serving as an adpositional complement may also be fronted together with its adposition:

Wierap teeuwe jie?
R.Q.up wait you
For what are you waiting?
Wier teeuwe jie ap?
R.Q. wait you up
What are you waiting for?

West Frisian prefers splitting of the adposition from the R-pronoun. It is conceivable that Saterland Frisian frequently fails to split off the R-pronoun under the influence of High German.

Postposition stranding is restricted to PPs which belong to the verbal domain. That is, there is no stranding for PPs which receive an adverbial interpretation. Two examples are given below:

Deerätter geen et hier beter.
R.after went it her better
After that, things went better for her (she recovered).
Wieruum bääst du so leet in Huus kemen?
R.about are you so late in home come
Why did you come home so late?

Here stranding would be ungrammatical, as shown below:

*Deer geen et hier ätter beter.
R went it her after better
After that, things went better for her (she recovered).
*Wier bääst du so leet uum in Huus kemen?
R are you so late about in home come
Why did you come home so late?

Adverbial PPs may also be referred to as clausal PPs. There are various subclasses of adverbial PPs.

[+]3. Semantic classes of adverbial PPs

Adverbs are not declined. They usually involve additional information about the place, time or manner of an event, such as: deer ‘there’, wieruum ‘why’, deertruch ‘as a result’. Other word classes may also function as adverbials. Here we restrict ourselves to adverbials which are PPs.

Locative PPs

Locative adverbials include PPs of place and PPs of direction. Some PPs can be used as PPs of place and as PPs of direction. Some adpositions have a nominalised form, which is used as a locative pronoun. Most conspicuous are the adpositions binne ‘inside’ and bute ‘outside’. These are semantically and etymologically related to the simple adpositions in ‘in’ and uut ‘out’. However, binne and bute themselves are also used as adpositions and their are subtle meaning differences between them, about which little is known. When binne and bute are used as nouns, an -n is added to them. Some examples with binne are given below:

Modifier of PP
Hie sit binne in dän Staal.
he sits inside in the stable
He is inside in the stable.
Bare adposition, verbal complement
Dät Ho is binne.
the hay is inside
The hay is inside.
Dät Huus is fon binnen so tjüüsterg.
the house is of inside so dark
The house is so dark inside.

Nominal compounds may feature both binne- and binnen- and even binner-.

Temporal PPs

PPs may be used to function as temporal adverbials. Some examples are given below:

Binne träi Dege kriege wie dät Jeeld.
within three days get we the money
Within three days, we get the money.
Insen in de Wiek.
once in the week
Once a week.
Wie häbe ju naiste Sittenge ap’n Täisdai fäästlaid.
we have the next meeting on.a Tuesday fast.laid
We have scheduled the next meeting for a Tuesday.
Fon’t Sumer. Dän hele Sumer uur / truch.
of.the summer the whole summer over / through
This summer. Throughout the whole summer.

Various adpositions can be found here. The following expressions illustrate a peculiar combination of an adposition with sentence modifiers without a clear word category: aal man tou ‘continually, all the time’ and aal man wissewäch ‘continually, all the time’. Some examples are given below:

Et reen aal man tou.
it rained all but to
It rained all the time.
Hie oarbaidede aal man wissewäch.
he worked all but sure.away
He worked all the time.

Temporal PPs never participate in stranding, for they are not arguments of the verb. They function as sentential adverbials.

PPs of manner

Adverbials of manner are usually realised as APs, but there are some idiomatic examples involving PPs. An example is given below:

Ap’t fluchste sjunge.
on.the nicest sing
Sing the most beautifully.

This is an example of a nominalised superlative AP functioning as the complement to a preposition.

PPs of degree and measure

Adverbials measure are commonly realised as NPs and those of degree as APs.

Other PPs

Other types of adverbials may comment upon the truth of the utterance or the presuppositions of the utterance. These are not normally realised as PPs. There is, however, a subgroup of adverbials which is most frequently realised as a PP. These are PPs which connect the utterance to the previous discourse. They may be described as linking adverbials. They usually consist of the R-pronoun followed by a postposition. The R-pronoun refers to an element from the previous discourse. Some examples are given here: butendät ‘in addition’, deerjuunuur ‘in contrast (with that)’, deerfoar ‘for it, on the positive side’. Some examples are given below:

Hie is nit stäärk, man deerfoar is hie heel flietich.
he is not strong but R.for is he very diligent
He is not strong but, on the positive side, he is very diligent.
Et häd fäärzen, un deertruch is ju Boukete wäch.
it has frozen and R.by is the buckwheat away
It has frozen, and because of that, the buckwheat is gone.

These PPs of causation of contrast serve to link up the present utterance to the preceding discourse.

[+]4. Incidental observations about PPs

No preposition of place

A peculiar phenomenon is that the preposition in ‘in’ is sometimes omitted in spoken language. An example is given below:

Kreer wäd no wül Seeltersk baald, oaber uk nit gans fuul. Schäddel je wät moor, am maasten je in Hollenerfehn.
there is now yes Seeltersk spoken but also not very much Schäddel still what more SUP much.SUP still in Hollenerfehn
Some Seeltersk is still being spoken there, in Schäddel still a bit more, still most in Hollenerfehn.

The phenomenon is also known from West Frisian. It is found in case a PP of place occurs at the beginning of the clause. It is only found in spoken language, and it may easily escape attention.

Partitive PP

A partitive PP is actually a NP with a partitive interpretation. Hence it is found in the subject position. An example is given below:

Also am bästen is fon dät jeele Wierträit.
so SUP good.SUP is of that yellow copper.wire
So the best is that type of yellow copper wire.

The PP is really a NP functioning as subject, as is clear from the fact that it determines agreement on the verb.

No R-pronoun

Although the frequent R-pronouns are obligatory, the infrequent ones seem optional. Frequent are the R-pronouns deer ‘it, that’ and wier ‘which’. The others are infrequent (see the table of R-pronouns in: Characteristics and classification of PPs > R-adpositions (1.4). For example, the infrequent universal quantifier functioning as R-pronoun is nargends ‘nothing, nowhere’. But it does not appear in the following example:

Wieruum laachje jou? Och uum niks.
why laugh you O about/at nothing
Why are you laughing. O, for no reason.

We would have expected:

Nargends uum.
R.NEG about
O, about nothing.

Perhaps there is ambiguity here between a reading for the PP as an argument of the verb and a reading in which the PP has an adverbial reading. This is characteristic of the adposition uum ‘about, at’. Note also that nargends ‘nowhere’ is a loan from Low German.

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