• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Saterfrisian
  • Afrikaans
Show all
5.4 Discontinuity of NP and quantifier or adjective

Noun and quantifier may occur in a discontinuous construction, though noun and adjective may not. In the example below, the noun occurs in the first position of the matrix clause whereas the quantifier occurs after the tensed verb.

Jo häbe aal noch niks ieten.
they have all yet nothing eaten
All of them have not yet eaten anything.

This phenomenon is also referred to as quantifier float. The quantifier functions as an adverbial.


The construction is especially frequent in case the universal quantifier co-occurs with a pronoun, as in the example above. In fact, it is the unmarked construction when combining a pronoun with a universal quantifier. Note that the quantifier is not marked for any feature of the pronoun which it modifies. In the example above, it modifies a plural personal pronoun, but it can also modify a singular mass noun, as in the example below:

Wie häbe et aal ape.
we have it all up
We have nothing left.

When preceded by alle, bee ‘both’ can also be used as an adverbial with alle ‘all’ functioning attributively to it:

Wie sieten alle bee ap dän Boank.
we sat all.PL both on the couch
Both of us sat on the couch.

In this example, the plural form alle appears, not aal, possibly because it is an attributive determiner here. The form bee never changes. There do not seem to be examples of bee ‘both’ standing on its own as a floating adverbial. It usually occurs in argument position preceded by the plural definite determiner, as in the following example:

Do bee paasje touhope as Bedebouk un Baanwienbuddel.
the two go together like prayer.book and brandy
The two go together like prayer book and brandy.

Translating this as a floating adverbial yields a different and wrong meaning alltogether: they both go together like prayer book and brandy. Thus it seems that the adverbial quantifier float construction obligatorily receives a distributive interpretation. Saterland Frisian does not seem to have discontinuous constructions of other types, such as the following:

*Tied häbe ik naan / neen.
time have I no.MSC no.FEM
Time have I none.

Incidentally, the noun Tied ‘time’ is found with masculine gender in idiomatic phrases, and otherwise it is found with feminine gender. Yet this is probably not an interference from German, since this noun was already feminine in Old Frisian. So the question is: how did the masculine gender arise with this noun?

    printreport errorcite