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7.2.3. The adjectival part

This section discusses the adjectival part of the partitive genitive construction. We will focus especially on the question of what adjective types can be used in this construction. Anticipating what follows, we can say that the correct generalization seems to be that the adjectives that occur in the partitive genitive construction constitute a proper subset of the adjectives that can be used as complementives: in other words, adjectives that can be used attributively only are excluded from this construction.

Example 54
Adjectival part of the partitive genitive construction: the set of partitive genitive adjectives is a proper subset of the adjectives that can be used as complementives.

Section 1.3 has distinguished four semantic classes of adjectives: (i) the set-denoting, (ii) the relational, and (iii) the evaluative adjectives, and what we have called (iv) the residue. It has been shown there that all adjectives in class (i), a restricted set of adjectives from class (ii), and virtually none of the adjectives in classes (iii) and (iv) can be used as complementives. This section will show that these findings correspond nicely with what we find in the partitive genitive construction.

[+]  I.  Set-denoting adjectives

Generally speaking, set-denoting adjectives can be readily used both in prenominal attributive position and as complementives; cf. Section 1.3.2. The doubly-primed examples in (55) show that these adjectives also occur as partitive genitives.

Example 55
Partitive genitive
a. een handige doek
  a handy towel
a'. Deze doek is handig.
  this towel is handy
a''. iets handigs
  something handy
b. een klein doosje
  a small box
b'. Het doosje is klein.
  the box is small
b''. iets kleins
  something small
c. een speciale kleur
  a special color
c'. Die kleur is speciaal.
  that color is special
c''. iets speciaals
  something special

This does not mean, however, that all set-denoting adjectives can be used in the partitive genitive construction; the subsections below will show that the six subclasses of set-denoting adjectives in (56) cannot.

Example 56
Predicative adjectives that cannot occur as partitive genitives
a. adjectives that can only be predicated of +animate noun phrases;
b. adjectives that take a proposition as their logical subject;
c. adjectives that take weather het as their subject;
d. adjectives that take a nominal complement;
e. superlatives;
f. adjectives that end in /a/, /o/, /i/, /e/, /y/ or schwa.
[+]  A.  Adjectives predicated of +animate entities

The first subclass consists of adjectives that, at least in their predicative use, express properties that can only be attributed to a +animate entity. Some examples are given in (57) to (59); see Section 1.3.4 for a discussion of the examples in (57b) and (58b).

Example 57
a. een dronken man
  a drunk man
a'. Die man is dronken.
  that men is drunk
a''. * iets dronkens
  something drunk
b. een dronken bui
  a drunken fit
b'. * Die bui is dronken.
   that fit is drunk
Example 58
a. een verlegen jongen
  a shy boy
a'. De jongen is verlegen.
   the boy is shy
a''. * iets verlegens
   something shy
b. een verlegen glimlach
  a shy smile
b'. * Die glimlach is verlegen.
  that smile is shy
Example 59
a. een zwangere vrouw
  a pregnant woman
a'. De vrouw is zwanger.
  the woman is pregnant
a''. * iets zwangers
   something pregnant
b. een loopse teef
  an in.season bitch
b'. Deze teef is loops.
   this bitch is in.season
b''. * iets loops
   something in.season

Subsection F will show that adjectives that end in a schwa, such as beige'beige' or frêle'delicate', give rise to a marked result in the partitive genitive construction: ? iets beiges/frêles. One might therefore want to claim that the doubly-primed examples in (57) and (58) are excluded because the adjectives dronken and verlegen are normally pronounced with a final schwa. However, other cases of adjectives ending in en do occasionally occur in this construction, in which case the /n/ seems to be phonetically realized; cf. (68b) below. In fact, the relevant examples are judged acceptable by some (but not all) speakers in contexts like (60a&b), which show that they are not blocked for phonological reasons. The cases in (60) are special in that the adjectives do not attribute a property to an animate being: iets dronkens in (60a) refers to some aspect of Janʼs appearance, iets verlegens/loops in (60b&c) refers to some aspect of the behavior of Peter/the dog, and iets zwangers in (60d) refers to Marieʼs way of walking.

Example 60
a. Jan heeft iets dronkens over zich.
  Jan has  something drunk  about him
b. Er zit iets verlegens in Peters gedrag.
  there  is  something shy  in Peterʼs behavior
c. Er zit iets loops in het gedrag van de hond.
  there  is  something  in.season  in the behavior  of the dog
d. ? Er zit iets zwangers in Maries manier van lopen.
  there  is  something pregnant  in Marieʼs way of walking

Note that the constructions with the verb zitten in (60b-d) alternate with the construction with the verb hebben'to have' in (61), in which the entity to which the partitive genitive construction attributes the relevant property appears as the subject of the clause. The examples in (60 ) and (61) clearly deserve more attention in the future; see Schoorlemmer (2005) for some discussion.

Example 61
a. Peters gedrag heeft iets verlegens.
  Peterʼs behavior  has  something shy
b. Het gedrag van de hond heeft iets loops.
  the behavior of the dog  has  something  in.season
c. ? Maries manier van lopen heeft iets zwangers.
  Marieʼs way of walking  has  something pregnant

      The exclusion of adjectives that modify +animate nouns only is probably related to the fact that the quantifiers iemand'someone' and niemand'no one' cannot be used as the nominal part of a partitive genitive construction. Moreover, the partitive genitive construction as a whole never refers to a +animate entity: iets slims'something smart' denotes a thing, e.g., a plan, not an animate being. The examples in (62) illustrate this again by showing that the predicatively used partitive genitive construction iets leuks can be predicated of a -animate noun phrase such as een feest'a party' but not over a +animate noun phrase like die man'that man'. This can be accounted for if we assume that the features of the nominal predicate and its subject must match, from which it follows that the partitive genitive construction has the feature -animate.

Example 62
a. Dat feest wordt iets leuks.
  that party  becomes  something nice
b. * Die man is iets leuks.
  the man  is something nice

Constructions like those in (63) can of course be found, but these assertions are offensive given that they represent the +human subject as an object. The primed examples show that replacement of the indefinite noun phrase by a proper noun or a referential pronoun renders the examples unacceptable.

Example 63
a. Een slaaf is iets onmisbaars.
  a slave  is something indispensable
a'. * Jan/Hij is iets onmisbaars.
  Jan/he  is something indispensable
b. Een vrouw is iets ongrijpbaars.
  a woman  is something impalpable
b'. * Marie/Zij is iets ongrijpbaars.
   Marie/she  is something impalpable

      Finally, it can be noted that adjectives that take a PP-complement can only be used as a partitive genitive if the PP can precede the adjective; cf. the discussion of (8) and (9) in Section 7.1. Since Section 2.1, sub I, has shown that adjectives like these generally select a +animatesubject, it does not come as a surprise that they hardly ever occur in the partitive genitive construction.

[+]  B.  Adjectives predicated of a proposition

The examples in (64) give examples from the second subset of set-denoting adjective that cannot be used in the partitive genitive construction. These involve adjectives like jammer'a pity', mogelijk'possible' and zeker'certain', which normally take a proposition as their logical subject; Section 6.5 has shown that the proposition is normally expressed by a clausal subject preceded by the anticipatory non-referential pronoun het'it', or referred to by the anaphoric neuter demonstrative dit/dat'this/that'.

Example 64
a. [Dat Anke ziek wordt] is mogelijk.
  that Anke ill becomes  is possible
  'Itʼs possible that Anke will be ill.'
a'. *? iets mogelijks
   something possible
b. [Dat Jan er morgen niet is] is jammer.
  that Jan there tomorrow not is  is a pity
  'Itʼs a pity that Jan wonʼt be there tomorrow.'
b'. * iets jammers
  something pitiful

In contrast to the adjective mogelijk in (64a), the adjective onmogelijk may take a noun phrase as its subject, and, as expected, it can also appear in the partitive genitive construction.

Example 65
a. Jans gedrag is (volstrekt) onmogelijk/*mogelijk.
  Janʼs behavior  is   completely  impossible/possible
  'Janʼs behavior work is completely unacceptable.'
b. iets (volstrekt) onmogelijks
[+]  C.  Weather adjectives

The third subclass consists of adjectives like bewolkt'cloudy', regenachtig'rainy' and benauwd'hard to breathe' that take so-called weather het as their subject in predicative structures. Some examples are given in (66).

Example 66
a. een bewolkte dag
  cloudy  day
a'. Het is bewolkt.
  it  is cloudy
a''. * iets bewolkts
   something cloudy
b. regenachtig weer
  rainy  weather
b'. Het is regenachtig.
  it  is rainy
b''. * iets regenachtigs
   something rainy
[+]  D.  Adjectives that take a nominal complement

The fourth subclass consists of adjectives that take a nominal complement. Section 2.2 has shown that we should distinguish between adjectives that take a genitive and adjectives that take a dative complement; we will discuss these in separate subsections. A third subsection is devoted to adjectives with a nominal complement that cannot be used attributively.

[+]  1.  Adjectives with a genitive complement

Adjectives that take a genitive nominal complement, such as bewust'conscious', moe/zat/beu'tired', machtig'in command of', are always predicated of a +animate noun phrase. Consequently, these adjectives cannot occur as partitive genitives for the same reasons as those indicated in Subsection A above.

Example 67
a. Hij is deze opera zat.
  he  is this opera  weary
  'Heʼs weary of this opera.'
a'. * iets deze opera zats
b. Hij is het Frans machtig.
  he  is the French  in.command.of
  'Heʼs able to speak French.'
b'. * iets het Frans machtigs
[+]  2.  Adjectives with a dative complement

Adjectives that take a dative nominal complement, such as aangeboren'innate', bespaard'spared', duidelijk'clear', ( on) bekend'(un)known', vreemd'foreign' and vertrouwd'familiar', may be predicated of a -animate noun phrase.

Example 68
a. Deze omgeving is Peter erg vertrouwd.
  this area  is Peter very familiar
  'This area is very familiar to Peter.'
b. De Universele Grammatica is de mens aangeboren.
  the Universal Grammar  is the man  innate
  'Universal Grammar is innate to man.'
c. Deze oplossing is Peter onduidelijk.
  this solution  is Peter  unclear
  'This solution is unclear to Peter.'

Nevertheless, the primeless examples in (69) show that the partitive genitive use of these adjectives often leads to a degraded result. It should be noted, however, that the result improves somewhat if the noun phrase is replaced by a pronoun. The primed examples show that, if the dative noun phrase is optional, the partitive genitive constructions become fully acceptable if the noun phrase is dropped.

Example 69
a. iets *Peter/?mij vertrouwds
  something    Peter/me  familiar
a'. iets vertrouwds
b. iets *de mens/?ons aangeborens
  something    the man/us  innate
b'. iets aangeborens
c. iets *Peter/?mij onduidelijks
  something    Peter/me  unclear
c'. iets onduidelijks

Most gradable adjectives can also be combined with a dative nominal complement if the intensifier te'too' is added.

Example 70
a. Dat boek is Peter te moeilijk.
  that book  is Peter too difficult
  'That book is too difficult for Peter.'
b. Het water is Marie te koud.
  the water  is Marie  too cold
  'The water is too cold for Marie.'

Again, the partitive genitive use of the adjective is excluded if the noun phrase is present, although the same distinction between full noun phrases and pronouns arises as in the primeless examples in (69).

Example 71
a. iets *Peter/?mij te moeilijks
  something    Peter/me  too difficult
a'. iets te moeilijks
b. iets *Marie/?mij te kouds
  something    Marie/me  too cold
b'. iets te kouds
[+]  3.  Adjectives that can only be used a predicative complement

Some adjectives that take a nominal complement can be used as a complementive only; cf. Section 6.2.3, sub V. As expected, the partitive genitive use of these adjectives is not possible.

Example 72
a. Hij is zijn trui kwijt.
  he  is his sweater  lost
  'He has lost his sweater.'
a'. * iets kwijts
   something  lost
b. Hij is het spoor bijster.
  he  is the track  lost
  'He lost his way.'
b'. * iets bijsters
   something  lost

It is not clear, however, whether this must be attributed to the fact that the adjectives select a nominal argument or to the fact that they cannot be used attributively. The latter is suggested by the fact that adjectives like braak'fallow' and gelegen'convenient' in (73), which are like the adjectives in (72) in that they can be used predicatively only but unlike them in that they do not select a nominal complement, cannot be used in the partitive genitive construction either. Other examples are afhandig maken'deprive of' and gewaar worden'to become aware'. Note that the examples in this subsection are all more or lesss fixed expressions.

Example 73
a. Dit weiland ligt braak.
  this meadow  lies fallow
a'. * iets braaks
   something  fallow
b. dit boek komt gelegen
  this book  comes  convenient
b'. * iets gelegens
   something  convenient
[+]  E.  Superlatives

The final subclass consists of the (absolute) superlatives. Example (74c'') shows that superlatives are excluded from the partitive genitive construction, whereas their corresponding positive and comparative forms are fully acceptable. The examples in (74d&e) show that periphrastic comparatives and superlatives behave just like the morphological comparatives in the doubly-primed examples in (74b&c).

Example 74
a. een leuk boek
  a nice book
a'. Dit boek is leuk.
  this book is nice
a''. iets leuks
   something nice
b. een leuker boek
  a nicer book
b'. Dit boek is leuker.
  this book is nicer
b''. iets leukers
   something nicer
c. het leukste boek
  the nicest book
c'. Dit boek is het leukst.
  this book the nicest
c''. * iets (het)leuksts
   something nicest
d. een minder leuk boek
  a less nice book
d'. Dit boek is minder leuk.
  this book is less nice
d''. iets minder leuks
   something less nice
e. het minst leuke boek
  the least nice book  
e'. Dit boek is het minst leuk.
  this book is the least nice
e''. * iets (het) minst leuks
   someth. the least nice

We will see below, however, that we cannot immediately conclude from the unacceptability of (74c''&e'') that superlatives cannot occur as partitive genitives. First, observe that the predicatively used adjectives in (74c'&e') are preceded by the determiner(-like) element het. We have seen in Section 4.3.2, however, that there are superlative forms preceded by aller- that can be used as a predicate without het, the so-called pseudo-superlative. The English renderings in (75) show that the presence or absence of het corresponds to a semantic difference: alleraardigst in (75a) is preceded by het and the copular construction expresses that Jan has the property of being kind to the highest degree; alleraardigst in (75b), on the other hand, is not preceded by het, and the copular construction expresses that Jan has the property of being kind to a very high degree.

Example 75
a. Jan is het alleraardigst.
  Jan is the aller-nicest
  'Jan is the nicest.'
b. Jan is alleraardigst.
  Jan is aller-nicest
  'Jan is very nice.'

Now consider the examples in (76), in which the pseudo-superlatives are predicated of -animatesubjectsand can appear as partitive genitives. The form of the partitive genitive is, however, rather special. The expected form A- sts is reduced to A- s: in (76a), for instance, the expected form allerleuksts surfaces as allerleuks, cf. Paardekooper (1986:691). Note, however, that some speakers have difficulty with both forms in the primed examples.

Example 76
a. Dit boek is allerleukst.
  this book  is very nice
a'. iets allerleuks/*?allerleuksts
b. Dit verhaal is alleraardigst.
  this story  is very nice
b'. iets alleraardigs/*?alleraardigsts

Although the phonological reduction in the primed examples in (76) does not apply with partitive genitives like juists/onbewusts in iets juists/onbewusts'something right/unconscious', where the sequence /sts/ is the result of adding the -s ending to an adjective ending in /st/, it is familiar from other cases as well; cf. Section 4.1.2, sub I. If the phonological reduction should also apply to the absolute superlative forms in (74c&e), the form leuksts would be reduced to leuks. This implies that the partitive genitive leuks should be the corresponding partitive genitive of both the positive degree and the absolute superlative. Given that the partitive genitive construction iets leuks semantically corresponds to the positive degree only, we can now finally conclude with confidence that there are no partitive genitives that correspond to the absolute superlative.
      The fact that it is impossible for the absolute superlatives to occur as partitive genitives may be related to the fact that these forms cannot be used as such in the copular construction, but must be preceded by the element het. Alternatively, we may assume that the fact that partitive genitive constructions are always indefinite is incompatible with the fact that absolute superlatives pick out a fixed entity or group of entities from the domain of discourse; they are in a sense inherently definite, which is also clear from the fact that they cannot be preceded by the indefinite article een if they are used attributively: *een leukste boek'a nicest book'.

[+]  F.  Phonological restrictions

Besides the systematic restrictions discussed in the previous subsections, additional phonological restrictions seem to play a role. The discussion has been restricted to so far partitive genitive adjectives that end in a consonant, but it should be noted that adjectives that end in a long vowel or a schwa often give rise to a marginal result in the partitive genitive construction. In (77), examples are given with adjectives that end in /a/, /o/, /i/, /e/, /y/ and a schwa. Observe, however, that some examples are more acceptable than others, and that judgments vary among speakers. It is not clear what determines the precise degree of acceptability; the fact that adjectives like these are generally loan words may play a role as well.

Example 77
a. * iets prima-s something excellent
b. ? iets lila-s something lilac
c. iets extra-s something extra
d. * iets albino-s something albino
e. * iets kaki-s something khaki
f. ? iets privé-s something private
g. ? iets continu-s something continuous
h. ? iets oranje-s something orange

For completeness’ sake, the examples in (78) show that the partitive genitive form of adjectives ending in /s/ has the same pronunciation as the corresponding positive form.

Example 78
a. vies 'dirty'
a'. iets vies
b. paars 'purple'
b'. iets paars
c. kleurloos 'colorless'
c'. iets kleurloos
[+]  II.  Relational adjectives

Subsection I has shown that, with the exception of six well-defined classes, all set-denoting adjectives can be used as partitive genitive adjectives. The most important condition for entering the partitive genitive construction seems to be that the set-denoting adjective can be predicated of (or modify) -animate noun phrases. If we consider the relational adjectives, however, it turns out that many adjectives that may modify a -animate noun cannot be used in the partitive genitive construction. Some examples are given in (79).

Example 79
a. een Groninger koek
  a Groninger cake
a'. * Deze koek is Groninger.
   this cake is Groninger
a''. * iets Groningers
   something Groninger
b. een houten bank
  a wooden bench
b'. * De bank is houten.
   this bench is wooden
b''. * iets houtens
   something wooden

Since the set-denoting and the relational adjectives differ with respect to acceptability if used as predicates, it might be the case that the question as to whether or not an adjective can occur as a partitive genitive is related to the question as to whether or not predicative use of this adjective is possible. If this is the case, we make the following prediction with respect to the relational adjectives. Since Section 1.3.3 has shown that a subset of the relational adjectives have the tendency to shift their meaning in the direction of the set-denoting adjectives, which is clear from their ability to occur in predicative position, we expect them to occur as partitive genitives as well; those relational adjectives that cannot occur in predicative position, on the other hand, are excluded from the partitive genitive construction. The discussion in the subsections below, which follows the classification of the relational adjectives in Section 1.3.3, will show that this expectation is indeed borne out.

[+]  A.  Geographical adjectives

Section 1.3.3, sub II, has distinguished the four classes of geographical adjectives shown in (80).

Example 80
Geographical adjectives
a. derived from person nouns by means of -s: Amerikaans 'American'
b. derived from person nouns by means of -isch: Russisch 'Russian'
c. derived from Dutch geographical names by means of -er: Urker 'from Urk'
d. other cases: buitengaats'offshore', ginds'yonder', plaatselijk'local', etc.

With respect to the classes in (80a&b), we have seen that these adjectives tend to shift in the direction of the set-denoting adjectives and may therefore occur as predicates in certain contexts; this tendency can be enforced by the addition of the adverb typisch'typically'. Consequently, we correctly expect that these adjectives may also occur as partitive genitives; cf. (81).

Example 81
a. iets (typisch) Amerikaans/Nederlands
  something  typically  American/Dutch
b. iets (typisch) Australisch/Russisch
  something  typically  Australian/Russian

Adjectives from the classes in (80c&d), on the other hand, are never used in predicative position and we therefore correctly predict their partitive genitive use to be impossible; cf. (82a).

Example 82
a. * iets (typisch) Urkers/Groningers
  something  typically  Urker/Groninger
b. iets *buitengaats/*ginds/?plaatselijks
  something    offshore/over there/local
[+]  B.  “Movement/trend" adjectives

Section 1.3.3, sub III, has divided the “movement/trend" adjectives into the three classes shown in (83).

Example 83
“Movement/trend" adjectives
a. derived from person nouns by means of -s: freudiaans 'Freudian'
b. derived from person nouns by means of -isch: kapitalistisch 'capitalistic'
c. derived from person nouns by means of -er: dominicaner 'Dominican'

The classes in (83a&b) tend to shift their meaning in the direction of the set-denoting adjectives, which again can be enforced by means of adding the adverb typisch'typically'. The class in (83c), on the other hand, is never used in predicative position.

Example 84
a. Deze opvatting is (typisch) freudiaans.
  this opinion  is  typically  Freudian
b. ? Deze opvatting is (typisch) kapitalistisch.
  this opinion  is  typically  capitalistic
c. * Dit klooster is (typisch) dominicaner.
  this monastery  is  typically  Dominican

Consequently, we expect that adjectives from the subclasses in (83a&b) can occur as partitive genitives, whereas this should be completely impossible with the adjectives from the class in (83c). The examples in (85) show that this expectation is indeed borne out.

Example 85
a. iets (typisch) freudiaans
  something  typically  Freudian
b. iets (typisch) kapitalistisch
  something  typically  capitalistic
c. * iets (typisch) dominicaners
  something  typically  Dominican
[+]  C.  Time adjectives

Section 1.3.3, sub IV, has divided the time adjectives into the three subclasses given in (86).

Example 86
Time adjectives
a. derived from the nouns dag'day', week'week', maand'month', etc., by means of the suffix -(e)lijks: dagelijks'daily', wekelijks'weekly', maandelijks'monthly'
b. derived from the names of days, seasons (with the exception of lente'spring' and some months (especially maart'March') by means of the suffix -s. Such time adjectives can also be based on compounds and phrases, middeleeuws'medieval', zeventiende-eeuws'seventeenth-century'
c. other cases, which are mostly used as adverbs

We start our discussion with the class in (86b). These adjectives generally cannot occur in predicative position, unless they refer to a certain, e.g., historical or cultural, period. Therefore, we expect these adjectives to occur in the partitive genitive construction on the latter reading only. This is indeed borne out.

Example 87
a. de zaterdagse bijlage
  the  Saturday  supplement
c. een middeleeuwse opvatting
  medieval  opinion
a'. * De bijlage is zaterdags.
  the supplement  is Saturday
c'. Deze opvatting is (typisch) middeleeuws.
  this opinion  is typically  medieval
a''. *? iets zaterdags
  something  Saturday
c''. iets (typisch) middeleeuws
  something  typically medieval
b. maartse buien
  March  showers
d. een zeventiende-eeuws lied
  seventeenth.century  song
b'. * De buien zijn maarts.
  the showers  are  March
d'. Dit lied is (typisch) zeventiende-eeuws.
  this song  is typically  seventeenth.century
b''. * iets maarts
  something  March
d''. iets (typisch) zeventiende-eeuws
  something  typically  seventeenth.century

Adjectives from the subclass in (86a) are at best marginally possible as predicates and they also yield marginal results in partitive genitive constructions such as (88c).

Example 88
a. zijn maandelijkse column
  his  monthly  column
b. ?? Zijn column is maandelijks.
  his column  is monthly
c. ?? Zijn column is iets maandelijks.
  his column  is something  monthly

Adjectives from the subclass in (86c) are generally used as adverbs of time. Occasionally they also occur as attributive adjectives, but they are not readily used in predicative position. As expected, the judgment on the partitive genitive use of this type of adjective seems to correlate with the one on its predicative use. In (89) and (90), this is illustrated by means of the adjectives regelmatig'regular(ly)' and vroeger'previous(ly)'.

Example 89
a. Hij klaagt regelmatig.
  he  complains  regularly
b. een regelmatige klacht
   a  regular  complaint
c. *? Deze klacht is zeer regelmatig.
  this complaint  is very regular
d. *? Zijn klacht is iets regelmatigs.
   his complaint  is something regular
Example 90
a. Dit was vroeger het stadhuis.
  this  was previously  the city.hall
  'This used to be the city hall.'
b. het vroegere stadhuis
   the  former  city.hall
  'the old city hall'
c. * Het stadhuis is vroeger.
  the city.hall  is former
d. * Het stadhuis is iets vroegers.
   the city.hall  is something former
[+]  D.  Substance adjectives

Substance adjectives can only be used in attributive position (cf. Section 1.3.3, sub V), and, as expected, the partitive genitive use of these adjectives is not possible.

Example 91
a. een houten kom
  wooden  bowl
b. een betonnen muur
   a  concrete wall
c. een zijden draad
   a  silk  thread
a'. * Deze kom is houten.
  this bowl  is wooden
b'. * Deze muur is betonnen.
   this wall  is concrete
c'. * De draad is zijden.
   the thread  is silk
a''. * iets houtens/houts
  something wooden
b''. * iets betonnens
   something concrete
c''. * iets zijdens
   something silk

For completeness’ sake, note that replacement of the substance adjectives in (91) by a van-PP makes the predicative constructions fully acceptable; this is illustrated for houten in (92a). This van-PP can also be added to the quantificational pronoun iets, as in (92b), but the structure of this construction is probably similar to the structure of the regular noun phrase in (92c).

Example 92
a. Deze kom is van hout.
  this bowl  is of wood
b. iets van hout
  something  of wood
c. een kom van hout
  a bowl  of wood
[+]  E.  Other cases

Section 1.3.3, sub VI, has discussed some less systematic cases of denominal, relational adjectives. Again, these adjectives occasionally shift their meaning in the direction of a set-denoting adjective. If this is possible, partitive genitive use is possible as well: the partitive genitive construction in (93c) can refer to an administrative measure since the adjective administratief can be predicated of the noun maatregel in (93b).

Example 93
a. een administratieve maatregel
  an  administrative  measure
b. Deze maatregel is puur administratief.
  this measure  is purely administrative
c. ? Deze maatregel is iets puur administratiefs.
  this measure  is something  purely  administrative

The partitive genitive construction in (94c), on the other hand, cannot refer to a linguistic lexicon as the adjective taalkundig in (94b) cannot be predicated of the noun lexicon.

Example 94
a. een taalkundig lexicon
  linguistic  lexicon
b. * Dit lexicon is taalkundig.
  this lexicon  is linguistic
c. *? Dit lexicon is iets taalkundigs.
  this lexicon  is something  linguistic
[+]  III.  Evaluative and residual adjectives

Evaluative adjectives such as drommels, duivels and bliksems cannot be used predicatively and the partitive genitive use of these adjectives is excluded in all cases; cf. the (a)-examples in (95). Positive evaluative adjectives such as hemels'heavenly' seem to be more adaptable to predicative use, and consequently also to partitive genitive use; cf. the (b)-examples in (95).

Example 95
a. die drommelse bout
  that  devilish  bolt
b. een hemels plekje
   a  heavenly  place
a'. * Die bout is/lijkt drommels.
  that bolt  is/seems  devilish
b'. ? Deze plek is hemels.
   this place  is heavenly
a''. * iets drommels
  something  devilish
b''. ? iets hemels
   something  heavenly

The residue consists of various classes of adjectives such as modal, amplifying, quantifying and restrictive adjectives. Modal adjectives such as potentieel'potential' and eventueel'possible' are never used as predicates, and their partitive genitive use is excluded as well.

Example 96
a. een potentieel tegenvoorbeeld
  potential  counterexample
b. Peters eventuele vertrek
   Peterʼs  possible  departure
a'. * Dit tegenvoorbeeld is potentieel.
  this counterexample  is potential
b'. * Peters vertrek is eventueel.
   Peterʼs departure  is possible
a''. * iets potentieels
  something  potential
b''. * iets eventueels
   something  possible

The amplifying, quantifying and restrictive adjectives can often also be used as common set-denoting adjectives and therefore can also be found in partitive genitive constructions, but crucially not under the non-set denoting interpretation. Consider the examples in (97). The examples in (97a&b) illustrate the two relevant uses of the adjective duidelijk, which means something like “comprehensible" if used as a set-denoting adjective but something like “obvious" if used as an amplifying adjective. In the partitive genitive only the set-denoting interpretation survives; example (97d) illustrates this by showing that the amplifying meaning cannot even be triggered by using the partitive genitive construction as a nominal predicate that is predicated of a noun phrase that corresponds to the noun in the attributive construction in (97b).

Example 97
a. De tekst is duidelijk.
  the text is comprehensible
b. de duidelijke fout
  the  obvious  mistake
c. iets duidelijks
  something  clear
d. * Deze fout is iets duidelijks.
  this mistake  is something obvious

The examples in (98) show the same for volledig, which has “complete" as its set-denoting meaning and “total" as its quantifying meaning, and enige, which has “unique/exceptional" as its set-denoting meaning and “only" as its restrictive meaning.

Example 98
a. De puzzel was volledig
  the puzzle was complete
a'. een volledige onderwerping
   a  total  submission
a''. ? iets volledigs
  something  complete
a'''. * De onderwerping was iets volledigs
   the submission was something total
b. dat boek was enig (in zijn soort)
  that book  was unique/exceptional
b'. de enige gelegenheid
  the  only  occasion
b''. iets enigs (in zijn soort)
  something  unique/exceptional
b'''. * Deze gelegenheid is iets enigs
   this occasion  is something only
  • Paardekooper, P.C1986Beknopte ABN-syntaksisEindhovenP.C. Paardekooper
  • Schoorlemmer, Maaike2005The status of the adjective in Dutch partitive constructions
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