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4.5 Reduced and full to-infinitives

There are also infinitives which do not allow their object to be lexicalised, but they do not allow it to be raised or controlled either. This automatically means that these infinitives must be intransitive. An example is given below:

Dät wie nakend in ’t Woater wieren tou swimmen.
that we nude in the water were to swim
That we were nude, swimming in the water.

It is not possible to construct a similar example with a transitive verb. It seems that the to-infinitive is incapable of lexicalising its object. In fact, it is not possible either to construct examples with PPs or modifiers. This suggests that the to-infinitive lacks a middle field, and this seems to be generally the case when the verb of being selects a to-infinitive or a progressive (an adpositional neuter infinitive). The reduced to-infinitival constituent functions as a selected adverbial denoting a purpose or a co-occurring activity, providing a further specification of the event described in the superordinate clause. The subject of the infinitive is controlled by the subject of the tensed verb, an instance of the verb of being. The reduced to-infinitive is placed after the verb cluster, where independent to-infinitival clauses are also found. Selected to-infinitives are usually found to the left of the selecting verb, if they have a merged middle field (clause union). Apart from reduced infinitives of purpose, there are also full infinitives of purpose, which are likewise found to the right of the governing verb.

This is discussed in more detail in the sections below.

[+]1. Reduced infinitives

Consider the following example:

Dät ze in Tuun geen tou juden.
that she in garden went to weed
That she went into the garden to weed.

The infinitival verb is intransitive, and it follows the verb cluster. It is not accompanied by an object, not by any other element. Again this suggests there is no middle field at all. The subject of the adverbial infinitive is controlled by the subject of the auxiliary verb, the verb of going. The infinitive may be semantically classified as an infinitive of purpose. Although it is referred to as an adverbial, it seems to have a close relation to the verb of the main clause. This may be due to the fact that the infinitive denotes the end point of the action of going, not in the realm of geography but in the realm of intentions, and those two are interrelated. The two examples we have seen so far involve an auxiliary of location and an infinitive of activity, and the two are causally related: people are in the location because of the activity. We could consider viewing this as an example of locative control. Consider next the following example:

Iek wol dän Kat hier nit aaltied häbe tou snoupen.
I want the cat here not always have to snack
I don’t want to always have the cat here snacking.

The main clause auxiliary is again used to denote a location, as is further evidenced by the use of the locational adverb. The to-infinitive is again bare, unaccompanied by any further material. It is an intransitive verb of activity. So again we note that the construction involves a relation between an auxiliary denoting a location and an infinitive denoting an activity, which is causally related to the location. The following examples likewise conform to this pattern:

Ake sien Oolden saanten do bee allenich ätter ’n Stuk tou mjoon.
Ake his parents sent the both alone to a pasture to mow
Ake's parents sent the two alone to a pasture to mow.
Un wan der wäkke wieren tou fertällen, dan ...
and when there which were to tell then
And when there were some to tell, then ....
Is hie dan ätter Huus kemen tou ieten?
is he then to home come to eat
Did he then come home to eat?

The context of the last example is story-telling of a type which frightened the children. We find the same type of to-infinitives with the auxiliary of sitting, which refers to body posture but it also has aspectual overtones, more specifically, it functions as a sort of progressive. Some examples are given below:

Wäl dood waas, deer blieuwen ze immer bie sitten tou woakjen.
who dead was R stayed they always at sit to death.watch
If anybody died, they always stayed sitting next to them for a deathwatch.
Do siet deer an dät Ouger ’n oold Wieuw tou spinnen.
then sat there at the waterside an old woman to spin
There was an old woman sitting near the waterside spinning.
Wan wie nit hier sitte wollen tou triljen.
if we not here sit want to shiver
If we don't want to sit here shivering.

The aspectual verb of body posture has been put in boldface. The examples make it clear that the auxiliary verb of sitting describes a body posture, on the one hand, and an ongoing activity, on the other hand. As a result, it is also a marker of progressive aspect. The adjunct infinitive is on the one hand an infinitive of purpose. On the other hand, it is a complement of the auxiliary as far as its progressive aspect is concerned. The construction seems to be an instance of an intermediary stage in grammaticalisation, which helps us to understand its ambiguous nature. It is quite another thing how this linguistic intuition about this construction can be formalised. In any case, it shows that the structure of language is richer beyond what linguists usually imagine. The examples also fit the pattern we have observed: the to-infinitive is not accompanied by an object, nor by any other material. It is placed to the right of the verb clusters, which is only visible in case there is a verb cluster.

Now, we expect that transitive verbs could enter this construction, in case the object could be licensed in some other way. Apparently, the construction does not allow raising of the direct object of the to-infinitive. However, objects can also be produced in the morphological component by compounding. This process is also referred to as noun incorporation in the generative literature. As a matter of fact, Saterland Frisian also allows of noun incorporation. This makes it possible for a transitive verb to occur in this construction, for the verb will be intransitive after the object noun has been incorporated. Put differently, the direct object is not expressed in the syntax (since there is no middle field), so it is expressed in the morphological component instead. And we do find indeed examples of incorporation in this construction:

Bit du mäd mie fierst tou Ho-hoaljen.
until you with me go to hay-get
Until you go with me to fetch hay.

Here the direct object of the infinitival verb is realised in the morphological component. As a result it is found to the right of the infinitival marker tou ‘to’, forming a compound with the infinitival verb. If the object were realised in the syntax, it would have to occur in the middle field, to the left of the infinitival marker tou ‘to’. The example makes it clear that there can be no direct object in this construction in the syntax, presumably because this type of infinitival verb lacks a middle field alltogether.

There are also some examples which do not fit the semantic pattern of location-activity, although they likewise seem to involve a reduced infinitival constituent functioning as an adverbial of purpose. An example is given below

Swich’ stil tou kwäteljen.
be.silent still to chattering
Be silent you chattering.

The example involves the co-occurrence of a command and a comment. There is a clear clausal connection between the command and the comment, but there is no locative connection, so a different construction may be involved. The following example is also different:

Do wieren sukke Tärphugele tou kostspielich antouläzen.
then were such mound.heights to expensive to.to.lie
Then it was too expensive to create such mounds.

Here the object of the infinitival clause is lexicalised as the subject of the auxiliary. The subject of the auxiliary gets its thematic role and interpretation from the AP. Hence this example must be analysed as a case of object to subject raising mediated by the functional head of excessive degree, which takes the AP as its complement. This is further in keeping with the fact that there is a particle present in the middle field of the infinitival clause, so to the left of the infinitival marker. In reduced infinitives of purpose, no lexical material may be present apart from the infinitive itself, for there is no middle field with reduced infinitives of purpose. A particle (a selected bare adposition) can only be present in a reduced infinitive if it is incorporated, like an object, and in that case it will be found to the right of the infinitival marker, forming a compound with the verb.

[+]2. Full infinitival clauses of purpose

Full infinitival clauses of purpose could in the past be introduced by the complementiser uum ‘for’. This use is not reported in Fort’s dictionary, which could be taken as an indication that it is becoming obsolete. This infinitival complementiser is quite common in Dutch and West Frisian, where it is also found in selected contexts, that is, selected by verbs like besykje ‘try’ (West Frisian). In Saterland Frisian, its use is restricted to introducing an infinitival clause of purpose, that is, a non-selected infinitive. Some examples are given below:

Elk koant Spinnen do Nette weewe um Fljogen tou fangen.
each knows spiders who webs weave for flies to catch
Everybody knows spiders who weave webs in order to catch flies.
Ju Woaterspinne spint unner Woater neen Nette um Fljogen tou fangen.
the water.spider weaves below water no webs for spiders to.catch
The water spider doesn’t weave webs below water in order to catch flies.
Deeruum läitet uus man alles dwo, uum fit tou blieuwen.
therefore let us but all do for fit to stay
Therefore, let us do everything in order to stay fit.
Dät Wucht waas so äärm, dät ju naan Komer hiede, uum deeroun tou släipen.
the girl was so poor that she no room had to R.in to sleep
The girl was so poor that she didn’t have a room to sleep in it.

The last example involves an infinitive of purpose which is pronominally related to the noun Komer ‘room’. This has the result that the infinitive of purpose semantically functions as a relative clause, by which it could be replaced (‘which she could sleep in”). Finally, there is a curious example from Siebs:

Hoangste, do bruukt man hier tou dät Lound tou beoarbaidjen.
horses them uses one here for the land to work
Horses are used here to work the land.

Here tou ‘to’ seems to function as the infinitival complementiser instead of uum ‘for’. But it is also possible that the sentence should be parsed differently: “horses are used for the land for working (it).” The use of the infinitival complementiser could have been been eroded in selected contexts in Saterland Frisian, since German makes little use of it. It is for this hypothesis very relevant how Low German behaves in this respect.

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