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5.5 Modal auxiliaries and their selection restrictions

Modal auxiliaries can select a bare infinitive, but they can also be combined with a PP-infinitive. This is discussed in more detail in the sections below.

[+]1. Modal auxiliaries selecting a bare infinitive

Modal auxiliaries select a bare infinitive, which always has the form of an ordinary infinitive, so it ends in schwa, except with a handful of verbs of which the infinitive ends in the vowel -o, such as dwo ‘do’. Furthermore, the tensed forms of the modal auxiliary houge ‘need’ usually select a to-infinitive, see: Raising auxiliaries selecting to-infinitives (4.1). Below are some examples of modals selecting a bare infinitive:

Iek hied et nit dwo moast.
I had it not do.OI must
I shouldn’t have done it.
Hie meent, hie kon sik säärm ferdokterje.
he thinks he can REFL self doctor.OI
He thinks, he can be his own doctor.
Dät hied so weze skuuld.
it had so be.OI shall
It had to be that way.
Dät hied hie nit dwo doarst.
that had he not do.OI dared
He didn’t dare to do it.
Dät hied iek jädden sjo wäild.
that had I eager see.OI wanted
I would have liked to see it.
Jo häbe neen Huus baue houged.
they have no house build.OI needed
They didn’t need to build a house.

Most examples also illustrate that the selecting modal, if it occurs inside the verb cluster, is placed to the right of its infinitive. It is not clear whether there are instances of modal verbs (other than hougje ‘need’) combining with a to-infinitive. In any case, the untensed forms of the verb hougje ‘need’ behave like the other modals in that they combine with a bare infinitive, as in the example immediately above.

[+]2. Modal auxiliaries selecting a PP infinitive

Somewhat infrequently, a modal can also be combined with a PP infinitive. Some examples are given below (Laker & Kramer 2022):

Dan mout me an ’t Juden.
then must one at the weeding
Then one must begin to weed.
Wie wollen an ’t Hofieren.
we want at the hea.riding
We want to go riding hay.

The interpretation of the examples seems to indicate that an instance of the verb of going is present in the semantic representation, more specifically, the infinitive of the verb. A construction like the West Frisian and Dutch absentive doesn’t seem to be present in Saterland Frisian.

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