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4 Bare (intransitive) adpositions

Bare adpositions do not take an internal argument, that is, they do not have a complement. They may, however, select external arguments, which are realised direct object or as subject. Two types of bare adpositions can be semantically distinguished. On the one hand, there are adpositions which are static. An example is given below:

Nu is dät Spil ut-e.
now is the game out-S
Now the game is over.

These adpositions combine with stative verbs, which in actual practice are copulas. In fact, the notions static and stative amount to the same thing, except that stative is used for verbs and static for adpositions. Both notions are used for the description of a state, hence involving the notion of permanence. The contrary notion is dynamicity. When applied to space, dynamicity amounts to directionality, since a change in location involves a direction of change. However, we will not use the concept of directionality here, since it does not generalise to more abstract meanings. The more abstract notion of dynamicity does, and so we prefer this term. So, alongside static adpositions, we have dynamic adpositions which combine with dynamic verbs. An example is given below:

Do Bäidene lope uut un ien.
the children walk out and in
The children walk in and out.

The example above does not describe a state, hence it is termed dynamic. It involves a change (of location). Static adpositions will be marked in the glosses with a capital S, where this is relevant. Interestingly, stativity is often morphologically marked on adpositions. It may be marked by the addition of a schwa or by stem changes. Some adpositional lexemes are restricted to either static or dynamic contexts. In addition, the presence or absence of complements may affect the type of adposition that is used. The ins and outs of this phenomenon will be presented in the next chapter, see Schwa as a marker of staticity on adpositions (6). Below some more information on bare adpositions is presented.


In the examples above, the lengthened form ute ‘out’ appears, which is formally related to the normal form uut. So we have an alternation between two forms, both of which are bare adpositions. Static adpositions are selected by stative verbs, whereas dynamic adpositions are selected by non-stative verbs. Bare adpositions are found at the end of main clauses, whereas the tensed verbs selecting them are found in first or second position of the clause. The meaning of adpositions depends in part on whether they are predicated of persons or of non-persons, as is often the case with idiomatic collocations. Apart from this, personhood is relevant in many areas of the grammar and the lexicon.

The class of bare adpositions shows a greater overlap with the class of postpositions than with the class of prepositions. However, there are bare adpositions which are homophonous to neither prepositions nor to postpositions, which suggests they constitute a subclass of their own.

Postpositions without complements generally derive from postpositions with complements, not from prepositions. Hence, although the postposition ou ‘off’ does not appear as preposition, it does appear as an intransitive postposition, as in ouskrieuwe ‘write off’. This postposition may also appear with a complement that is a prepositional phrase, as illustrated in the example below:

Dät Skap fon ju Woge ou-skuve.
the closet of the wall off-push
Push the closet away from the wall.

Some adpositions have two forms, depending on whether they appear as a preposition or as a postposition. For example, the form oun ‘into’ is never used as a preposition. It only appears as a postposition, and, furthermore, it is only used with a non-static meaning. It may appear both as a postposition with a complement and as a bare adposition, providing an indication that postpositions are closer to bare adpositions than prepositions are. There are also bare adpositions which are neither used as prepositions nor as postpositions, that is, they are never accompanied by a complement, neither of the category NP nor of the category PP. An example is the adposition wäch ‘away’. PPs accompanying wäch ‘away’ are usually optional, and they rarely function as a complement to this adposition.

Saterland Frisian also features two forms for a specific bare adposition: uum and ume ‘around’. This alternation has nothing to do with the distinction between static and dynamic. Instead, it is used to mark the difference between two types of meaning. In case the adposition refers to a circle, the form uum ‘around’ is used, as in verbs like uumfiemje ‘encircle, include’. In such cases, the adposition is a preix, so unseparable from the verb. If the adposition is separable, it is realised as ume ‘around’, and it denotes a change in orientation while leaving the location unchanged, similar to upside down, as in dän Tuun umespitte ‘till the garden’. Saterland Frisian does not use this adposition to mark activities without purpose or order, as does West Frisian.

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