• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
6.2.5. Modification of quantifiers

As we have already briefly mentioned, the universal and degree quantifiers discussed here can be modified by means of adverbial phrases: this is not possible with existential quantifiers. The following subsections briefly discuss the various possibilities.

[+]  I.  Universal quantifiers

Universal quantifiers are typically modified by approximative modifiers like bijna'nearly', nagenoeg'almost', vrijwel'nearly' and zowat'about'. Some examples are given in (172).

Example 172
a. Bijna/vrijwel/zowat iedereen is op vakantie.
  nearly/nearly/about  everyone  is on holiday
b. Bijna/vrijwel/zowat alle boeken zijn verkocht.
  nearly/nearly/about  all books  are  sold

Being subject to modification by the approximative modifiers is a typical property of all universally quantified elements. It also holds for the pre-determiners al and heel in (173a&b), which are more extensively discussed in Chapter 7, and for universally quantified adverbial phrases like nooit'never', etc.

Example 173
a. Bijna al de boeken zijn verkocht.
  nearly  all  the books  are sold
b. Bijna heel het huis is schoon gemaakt.
  nearly  whole  the house  is clean  made
c. Hij is bijna nooit thuis.
  he  is virtually  never  at.home

      In addition to the approximate modifiers above, universal quantifiers can be modified by modifiers that emphasize the fact that all entities satisfying the description are included, like echt'really', letterlijk'literally', volstrekt'completely', werkelijk'really', etc.

Example 174
a. Hij heeft echt alles/alle boeken gelezen.
  he  has  really  all/all books  read
b. Hij heeft met werkelijk/letterlijk iedereen/alle buren ruzie.
  he  has  with really/literally everyone/all neighbors  quarrel

Another way to achieve the same semantic effect is by using the X maar dan ook X construction in (175), involving the conjunction maar. Note that the emphasizing modifiers illustrated in (174) can also be part of the second conjunct of this construction; cf. Hoeksema (2001).

Example 175
a. Hij heeft alles, maar dan ook (echt) alles gelezen.
  he  has  all  but  dan ook  really  all  read
b. Hij heeft alle, maar dan ook echt alle boeken gelezen.
  he  has  all  but  dan ook  really  all  books  read
[+]  II.  Negative existential quantifiers

Approximative modifiers can be used not only with universal quantifiers, but also with negatively quantified noun phrases such as niemand'nobody' or geen boek'no book'. This is, of course, not surprising given the fact that a negatively quantified phrase can readily be paraphrased by means of a universal quantifier; cf. the equivalence rule ¬∃Φ ↔ ∀¬Φ.

Example 176
a. bijna niemand
  nearly  nobody
b. bijna geen student/studenten
  virtually  no student/students

      It is also possible to use modifiers that emphasize that no entity satisfying the description is included, like echt'really', letterlijk'literally', volstrekt'completely', werkelijk'really', etc. The X maar dan ook X construction can also be used to achieve this semantic effect. If the conjunction involves the negative article geen, as in (177c), there is a strong preference to also include a modifier like werkelijk. In all these examples, the modified noun phrase is assigned contrastive accent.

Example 177
a. Er was werkelijk niemand/geen mens aanwezig.
  there  was  literally  nobody/no person  present
b. Er was niemand maar dan ook (werkelijk) niemand aanwezig.
  there  was  nobody  but  dan ook    really  nobody  present
c. Er was geen, maar dan ook ??(werkelijk) geen mens aanwezig.
  there  was  no,  but  dan ook      really  no person  present
[+]  III.  Degree quantifiers

Uninflected high/low degree quantifiers veel and weinig can also be modified by means of degree modifiers, and in this respect these quantifiers pattern more or lesss like gradable adjectives. The inflected forms vele and weinige, on the other hand, defy modification, regardless of whether they are preceded by a determiner or not. This is shown by the examples in (178).

Example 178
a. erg/heel/te veel/weinig boeken
  very/very/too  many/few  books
b. * (de) erg/heel/te vele/weinige boeken
  the  very/very/too  many/few  books

This restriction on modification of the inflected forms seems to coincide with the restrictions on comparative formation: whereas meer'more' can be readily used in (179a), it gives rise to an ungrammatical result in (179b); note that de mindere boeken is acceptable under the, here irrelevant, reading “the books of lower quality”.

Example 179
a. meer/minder boeken
  more/less  books
b. * (de) mere/mindere boeken
  the  more/less  books

Like most gradable adjectives, veel and weinig have an interrogative counterpart, namely hoeveel'how many/much'. Although hoeveel is normally written as a single word, the fact that it contains the element veel suggests that veel is the neutral form of the antonym pair veel: weinig. Finally, it can be observed that weinig can be coordinated with the quantified pronoun niets'nothing' or with the negative article geen'no', with the resulting meaning “hardly any(thing)”.

Example 180
a. Hij heeft weinig of geen boeken gelezen.
  he  has  few or no  books  read
  'He has read hardly any books.'
b. Hij heeft weinig of niets gelezen.
  he  has  little or nothing  read
  'He has read hardly anything.'

      The quantifier voldoende'enough' can be modified by ruim'amply', which indicates that the implicit norm is satisfied to more than a sufficient extent. The degree quantifiers genoeg'enough' and zat'plenty' lack this possibility. Both voldoende and genoeg, but not zat, can be modified by net'just', which indicates that lower bound of the implicit norm has just been met.

Example 181
a. Er zijn hier ruim/net voldoende computers.
  there  are  here  amply/just  enough  computers
b. Er zijn hier net/*ruim genoeg computers.
  there  are  here  amply/just  enough  computers
c. * Er zijn hier ruim/net zat computers.
  there  are  here  amply/just  plenty  computers

      Example (182a) contains the sequence meer dan voldoende/genoeg. Given that meer is the comparative form of the degree quantifier veel, this example raises the question as to whether the quantifier meer modifies voldoende/genoeg or whether it is the other way around. The latter analysis can be supported by claiming that a comparative is normally modified by means of a dan-phrase. However, this particular use of the dan-phrase would be special in that it must precede, and cannot follow, the modified noun, as shown by the (a)-examples in (182); as is illustrated by the (b)-examples, dan-phrases used as modifiers of comparatives normally do not precede the modified noun. This fact may be given in support of the former analysis, according to which it is the comparative meer that modifies the degree quantifier; see Section, sub IV, for a similar constructions with cardinal numerals.

Example 182
a. Zij heeft meer dan voldoende/genoeg boeken.
  she  has  more  than enough/enough  books
  'She has more than enough books.'
a'. * Zij heeft meer boeken dan voldoende/genoeg.
b. Zij heeft meer boeken dan Jan.
  she  has  more  books  than Jan
  'She has more books than Jan.'
b'. * Zij heeft meer dan Jan boeken.
  • Hoeksema, Jack2001X maar dan ook echt X! Emfatische reduplicerende nevenschikkingTabu31119-140
Suggestions for further reading ▼
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • Cardinal numbers
    [84%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
  • -s
    [84%] Frisian > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Suffixation > Adverbial suffixes > Noun as base
  • Degree
    [84%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
  • Personal pronouns
    [83%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Pronouns
  • In prenominal position
    [83%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
Show more ▼
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.