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2.6.3 Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns are inflected for gender, number and case. Only masculine relative pronouns are formally specified for case (i.e. nominative die, oblique dän).

die (m. nom.), dän (m. obl.); ju (f.); dät (wät) (n.); do (pl.)

Relative pronouns agree with their antecedent in grammatical gender.

Sjuch dat junge Wucht, dät man do wielde Dierte pries rakt. ‘Look that young girl whom they sacrifice to the wild animals.’

When the antecedent is something unspecified like dät ‘that’ and aal ‘everything’, the relative pronoun wät is used. This is often also the case when the antecedent is an inanimate neuter noun.

Muurjen un aal, wät deermäd tou dwoon hiede. ‘Bricklaying and everything that was related to that.’ Dät Jeeld, wät iek fertjoonde. ‘The money I earned.’

The relative pronoun wät can refer to non-neuter inanimate things.

’n Stede, wät wied genouch fon do Huze owe waas. ‘A spot which was sufficiently far removed from the houses.’

Relative pronouns are used in restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses.

Dän Mon, dän dät grote Skip heerde. ‘The man to whom that large ship belonged.’
Sin Babe, die Hinnerk hat. ‘His father, whose name is Hinnerk.’

A nominative relative pronoun can be accompanied by apparently meaningless adverb deer ‘there’. This happens mostly (but not always) in restrictive relative clauses.

Hie spitsede de Ore as ’n Kat, die deer grummeljen heert. ‘He pricked up his ears like a cat who hears the thunder.’

Relative clauses can also be created in other ways.

The inflected relative pronoun wäkke occurs sporadically in written texts: n Pitsche wäkke bie t Sloon knalt ‘a whip which bangs while beating’.

Relative clauses can also be made by the use of the R-pronoun wier (or archaic deer) and several adpositions. In prepositional relative clauses with inanimate antecedents, this construction is obligatory.

Die Wain, wier jo mäd kemen sunt. ‘The cart with which they have come.’
?? Die Wain, mäd dän jo kemen sunt. [Only through German interference.]
Die Mon, wier jo mäd kemen sunt. ‘The man with whom they have come.’
Die Mon, mäd dän jo kemen sunt. (id.)

This construction offers a way of expressing possessor or partitive relationships, as the original pronoun wäls ‘whose’ has become as good as obsolete (Laker & Kramer forthcoming).

Dät Skäin, wier iek ju Dore fon moaked häbe. ‘The barn of which I have made the door.’

Another way of creating possessive relative sentences is the combination of a resumptive demonstrative pronoun with a possessive pronoun. Resumptive demonstrative pronouns may well agree with the natural gender of the antecedent.

Dät Wieuw, ju hiere Woain iek koped häbe. ‘The woman whose carriage I bought.’

Alternatively, one could use an indirect object construction to convey the same idea.

Mien ouer Möie, ju die Mon oustuurwen was. ‘My other aunt, whose husband had passed away.’ (Literally: ‘to whom the husband had passed away’.)

Free relative clauses can be expresses in several ways.

With die or die deer:

Die ze sik ansponget, die kon fljoge. ‘Whoever puts them (te wings) on, can fly’
Do deer in ’t Huus blieuwe, do fodderje dät Fäi. ‘Those who stay at home, feed the cattle.’

With indeclinable wäl ‘who(ever)’ or wät ‘what’:

Wäl ’n Buur bedrjoge wul, mout ädder apstounde. ‘Whover wants to deceive a farmer, has to rise up early.’
Wät licht ferjeten wädt. ‘What is easily forgotten.’

Free relative what can refer to people (‘the kind of people that’):

Wät so’n oolden Imker was, wiste dät goud. ‘Anyone of those old beekeeper knew that.’ (Literally: ‘What such an old bee-keeper was.’)
  • Laker & Kramer (forthcoming): Laker, Stephen & Pyt Kramer. Forthc. 2024. Relativsätze im Saterfriesischen. [Studies in Memory of Hans Frede Nielsen.] Nowele Supplement Series vol. 34. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
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