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Coreference
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The referential properties of nominal inflection in noun ellipsis are similar in some respects to the referential properties of pronoun. The marker of noun ellipsis -e is freely used in case its antecedent is a countable object, regardless of gender and of the rules for attributive agreement. In case its antecedent is a mass noun, the marker of noun ellipsis takes on attributive agreement, and must correspondingly be absent with neuters.

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Noun ellipsis in -e patterns with pronominal coreference. Pronominal coreference disregards gender with countable objects. It is normal in spoken language to refer to countable neuter objects with a common pronoun:

Example 1

a. Wêr is myn potlead? Ik ha him net sjoen
where is my pencil.NG I have him.CG not seen
Where is my pencil? I have not seen it
b. Wêr is myn potlead? Ik ha it net sjoen
where is my pencil.NG I have it.NG not seen
Where is my pencil? I have not seen it

It is not possible to refer to mass nouns with the common pronoun, again regardless of their gender; this holds for both written and spoken language. Mass nouns must obligatorily be referred to with the neuter pronoun, regardless of the gender of the antecedent:

Example 2

a. *Wat een troep! Hy stiet net moai
what a mess.CG he looks not nice
What a mess! It does not look nice
b. *Sjoch gebak! Hy is moai fersierd
look pastry.NG he is nicely dressed-up
Look pastry! It is nicely decorated
c. Wat een troep! It stiet net moai
what a mess.CG it looks not nice
What a mess! It does not look nice
d. Sjoch gebak! It is moai fersierd
look pastry.NG it is nicely dressed-up
Look pastry! It is nicely decorated

To summarize up, the marker of noun ellipsis -e is freely used in case its antecedent is a countable object, regardless of gender and of the rules for attributive agreement. In case its antecedent is a mass noun, the marker of noun ellipsis follows attributive agreement, and must correspondingly be absent with neuters. So, the Frisian grammatical system shows a transition from being sensitive to gender to being sensitive to semantic factors such as countable object and mass nouns. This has convincingly been argued to be the case for Dutch by Kraaikamp (2012), also Romijn (1996).

References:
  • Kraaikamp, Margot2012The semantics of the Dutch gender systemJournal of Germanic linguistics24(3)193-232
  • Romijn, Kirsten1996Hoe doen we het? Verwijzingen naar linguïstische en cognitieve representaties met het voornaamwoord 'het'AmsterdamP.J. Meertens-Instituut
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