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8 Various aspects of clause structure

In this chapter, various aspects of clause structure are briefly introduced and discussed in the two sections below.

[+]1. The end field

We have implicitly and loosely defined the middle field as the syntactic structure in between the finite verb (or the complementiser) and the verb cluster. It is, however, possible for many constituents to appear following the verb cluster. Let us define the end field as the structure following the verb cluster. Embedded sentences almost always appear to the right of the verbal cluster, regardless of their function. An example is given below:

Wät mout iek Goudes dwo, [uum dät eeuwige Lieuwend tou winnen?]
what must I good do for the eternal life to win
What good must I do in order to gain eternal life?

The embedded clause is bracketed, the verb cluster is marked in bold, and the embedded clause occurs to the right of it. In contrast, pronouns and NPs almost always appear to the left of the verb cluster. Thus, if we pronominalise the embedded, it usually occurs to the left of the verb cluster, so inside the middle field instead of the end field:

Iek mout [deerum] Goudes dwo,
I must therefore good do
I must therefore do good.

The same remarks apply for example to sentences functioning as direct object, and so on. Certain PPs can be found both in the end field and in the middle field. Below is an example of a PP in the end field:

Iek duur hier rauelk kaierje un spielje mäd do fule Stierne.
I dare here quietly walk and play with the many stars
I can quietly walk around here and play with the numerous stars.

Here the PP occurs in the end field following the verb cluster which hosts the infinitival verb spielje ‘play’. In West Frisian, PPs rather freely appear in the end field, whereas Dutch and even more German are less liberal in this respect. Saterland Frisian nowadays seems to be reluctant to put PPs in the end field.

[+]2. Negation

Negation may be put in a position following the constituent over which it has scope, so at the end of the middle field but before the verb cluster. An example is given below:

Dät is hier so groot nit fierd wudden.
that is here so big not celebrated become
It wasn't celebrated that much here.

Negation has semantic scope over the preceding AP. This type of order was very common in Middle West Frisian. The following example likewise involves negation taking semantic scope over a preceding constituent:

Aan foar uur wiel dät nit dwo.
one for other wanted that not do
'Nobody wanted to do it.'

The subject contains a constituent which also functions as an adverbial reciprocal specifying the reflexive se pronoun, see: NP > Pronouns > Reciprocal pronouns. Apparently it is a distributive quantifier which need not be bound by an argument, possibly a negative polarity item. It is construed with negation, which is again found before the verbal cluster at the end of the middle field. Together with negation, it is construed as a negative quantifier. The distributive quantifier is an interesting and specifically Saterland Frisian element. It consists of two elements which are often used to construct reciprocal pronouns: the quantifier one and the quantifier other. Here they are joined by the adposition foar ‘for’. Compare the reciprocal eenuur ‘each other’, which similarly consists of the quantifier one and the quentifier other, but without being joined by an adposition. Possibly, the adposition is responsible for the fact that aan foar uur ‘one for other’ can be used both as an argument and as an adverbial, whereas eenuur ‘one another’ can only be used as an argument and must be bound by an antecedent sitting in a higher position. In the sentence above, aan foar uur ‘one for other’ cannot be replaced by eenuur ‘one another’, because it doesn’t function as a reciprocal pronoun, but as something like a negative polarity element. However, it doesn’t seem to be a negative polarity item either, because it can function without negation. According to the dictionary, it has the meaning of the universal quantifier if it occurs without negation. It should be further investigated what the exact distribution is of this fascinating word group.

Languages in general possess a negative NP such as English nothing. The Saterland system of negation is quite disrupted, see: NP > Quantifiers and (pre)determiners > Negative quantification (7.3). Saterland Frisian lost its native form and adopted the Low German form niks ‘nothing’ instead’. But languages in general also have informal and creative ways of expressing the concept of a negative quantifier of the category XP. This is done by combining the negative determiner with a lexical noun, which may lose its literal meaning in this construction or it may be used as a minimizer. An example of a noun used as a minimiser is given below:

[Nit eenmoal sien oaine Muur] kon man moor leeuwe.
no once his own mother can one more believe
You can't even believe your own mother anymore.

The bracketed constituent functions as a direct object lexicalised in the first position of the main clause. It basically consists of two constituents: the negative sentential negation nit eenmoal ‘not once’ and the following NP. It is also possible to leave sentential negation in the middle field and just lexicalise the NP sien oaine Muur ‘his own mother’ in the first position. The negation, more specifically the word eenmoal ‘once, even’, causes the NP to function as a minimizer. That is, the sentence not only asserts its literal meaning, namely, that you can’t trust your own mother. But the effect of the minimizer is that you can’t believe any person at all, since the minimizers sets up a monotonicity scale, of which the smallest element has been negated, so that any other element is implicitly negated as well: you can’t believe your mother, therefore, you cannot believe friends, partners, people in general. In this construction, the word mother hasn’t lost its literal meaning but it has become the smallest element in a ranking of persons necessary to make the proposition true. In the following example, the noun used has lots its literal meaning, and it has become an idiomatic way to express the negative NP quantifier.

Deer is naan Fats fon uurblieuwen.
there is no bit of over.remain
There is not a bit of it left.

Again the example makes it clear that a monotonicity scale has been set up, of which the least element has been negated, implying a fortiori the negation of every larger element. Basically, it doesn’t matter which noun is used in this construction, since the construction makes clear what meaning is intended. Most appropriate are of course nouns of small amount, that is nouns which are most likely to render the proposition true. In actual practice, people may use taboo words in informal speech as minimizer, as in English expressions like “not a fuck” and so on. The word Fats has a taboo origin as well, for it used to mean ‘cunt’, but its literal meaning got lost, and it is only used as a minimiser meaning ‘the least bit’. The West Frisian cognate is probably fodze ‘cunt, lass’, which often has negative overtones when applied to women.

Occasionally the language features double negation, a phenomenon which is associated with spoken language. An example is given below:

Foar aal kon neen Moanske nit suurgje.
for all can no human not take.care
Nobody can take care of everyone.

The negative NP in subject position is doubled by sentential negation found at the end of the middle field. Double negation may be used to express emotion on the part of the speaker. The phenomenon is also found in spoken Dutch and West Frisian.

Occasionally a non-finite verb is lexicalised in the first position of a main clause, with negation stranded at the end of the middle field. Two examples are given below:

Fuul dwo kuud Norbert je noch nit.
much do could Norbert yes still not
'There wasn’t much that Norbert could do.'
Koped wuden neen Bäizeme. Do wudden sälwen moaked.
bought were no brooms they were self made
'No brooms were bought. They were homemade.'

The first example above features an infinitive which has been preposed with its object, a high degree word. The second example features a perfect participle which has been preposed. In both examples, negation was left stranded in the middle field, that is, it wasn’t moved along with the non-finite verb. Note also the second clause of the last example, in which the adverbial sälven ‘self’ refers to the agent of the passive verb. This agent is not lexicalised, but it must be present at some level of representation, seeing that the adverbial sälven ‘self’ refers to it.

The negative temporal expression silläärge (nit) ‘ever not’ was briefly discussed in: NP > Quantifiers, determiners and predeterminers > Negative quantification (7.3). The complex expressions milläärge nit and silläärge nit mean “never”. Milläärge nit originally literally meant "not in my lifetime". Hence it can only refer to first person arguments, as in the following example:

So ’n groten Huund häbe iek milläärge nit blouked.
such a big dog have I my.life not seen
I have never seen such a big dog (in my life).

Such a restriction does not apply to silläärge nit, which literally meant "not in his lifetime > not ever > never". Though formally and originally a third person, it can be used with first, second and third persons. Both silläärgeand milläärge can be connected to negation in different ways, because negation can be expressed in different ways, for example, as sentence negation or as a negative NP. Some examples are given below:

Man kriegen häbe iek silläärge naan.
but received have I ever none
But I never received any.
As hiede hie dät silläärge nit eer blouked.
as had he it ever not earlier seen
As if he hadn’t seen it ever before.

In the first example, there is a negative NP which is construed with the temporal quantifier. In the second example, it is a complex negative constituent nit eer ‘not before’ which is construed with the temporal quantifier siläärge ‘ever’.

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