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Emphatic agreement
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Emphatic agreement shows up on subjectively evaluating adjectives in case their high degree denotation receives emotional emphasis.

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Emphatic agreement is an instance of unary agreement, that is, there is no paradigm. It takes the form of the marker -en. It shows up only on subjectively evaluating adjectives in case their high degree denotation receives emotional emphasis. Some examples are given below.

High degree reading of the adjective:

Example 1

a. Sa'n swier-en keardel
such.a heavy.EMPH fellow
Such a very heavy fellow
b. In langen striel
a long.EMPH beam, ray
A long ray

High degree reading of the noun:

Example 2

a. In earst-en fjochtersbaas
a first.EMPH hoodlum
A tremendous hoodlum
b. In bloedig-en work
a bloody.EMPH work
A tremendous piece of work

The use of a high degree reading on the adjective, as in examples like swierenheavy was common in Early Modern Frisian (1550-1800), but it became obsolete in Modern Frisian. Adjectives denoting a high degree reading on the following noun can still be found, mainly in written language. In such examples, the 'adverbial' adjective has lost its literal meaning; instead, it indicates that the property denoted by the noun is present to a high degree. This is different from the example with swierheavy, which does not signify that the property denoted by the noun is present to a high degree. Instead, it signifies that the property denoted by the adjective is present to a high degree. Emphatic adjectives cannot occur in the plural, as shown in the examples below:

Example 3

a. *Swier-en keardels
heavy.EMPH fellows
(Very) heavy fellows
b. *Earst-en fjochtersbazen
first.EMPH hoodlum
(Very) big hoodlums

They are, furthermore, restricted to indefinite contexts:

Example 4

a. *De swieren keardel
the heavy.EMPH fellow
The (very) heavy fellow
b. *De earsten fjochtersbaas
the first.EMPH hoodlum
The (very) big hoodlum

The -en suffix originated as an incorporated indefinite article, according to Verdenius (1939), Van der Meer (1987), in constructions like the following (which are also found in English). The example below is from Early Modern Frisian:

Example 5

So grut in smert > sa gruttin smert
so big a pain
Such a big pain

The adjectives in -en spread to other indefinite contexts (in grutten smerta big pain), and the article got reintroduced in the phrases introduced by Early Modern Frisian soso (Modern Frisian saso):

Example 6

So in gruttin smert
such a big.EMPH pain
Such a big pain

All these forms are attested in Early Modern Frisian, when the construction was much more popular than nowadays. Even nowadays, the construction still betrays its roots, being limited to singular indefinites, and being characterized by a high degree interpretation characteristic of phrases introduced by soso.

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x Literature

More details can be found in Meer (1987), Verdenius (1939) and Hoekstra (1989).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989In aparten ienFriesch Dagblad15-07Taalsnipels 114
  • Meer, Geart van der1987It is in dregen baas: (de 'bûgings' -(e)n bij eigenskipswurden)Us wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk3697-111
  • Meer, Geart van der1987It is in dregen baas: (de 'bûgings' -(e)n bij eigenskipswurden)Us wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk3697-111
  • Verdenius, Andries A1939Over de vormen van de adnominale adjectief en het lidwoord van bepaaldheid in de 17de-eeuwse Amsterdamse volkstaalDe Nieuwe Taalgids3397-108
  • Verdenius, Andries A1939Over de vormen van de adnominale adjectief en het lidwoord van bepaaldheid in de 17de-eeuwse Amsterdamse volkstaalDe Nieuwe Taalgids3397-108
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