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Indefinite: -en
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The suffix -en is used as a marker of indefinite noun ellipsis.

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The suffix -en is also used as a marker of noun ellipsis, glossed as NEI (noun ellipsis indefinite). The suffix -en is equivalent to the suffix -enien, consisting of -en followed by the incorporated indefinite pronoun ienone. The suffix -en (NEI) is not compatible with definite determiners and demonstratives, the two categories which fail to trigger strong attributive agreement on following adjectives, as shown below:

Example 1

a. *De reade bal of de grien-en
the red ball of de green.NEI
The red ball or the green one
b. *Hy woe dy read-en
he wanted that red.NEI
He wanted that red one

The suffix -en (NEI) characteristically occurs in indefinite contexts. A minimal pair with respect to definiteness is given below:

Example 2

a. *De reade bal of de grien-en
the red ball of de green.NEI
The red ball or the green one
b. In reade bal of in grien-en
a red ball of a green.NEI
A red ball or a green one

The set of quantifiers with which the nominalising suffix -en co-occurs is not the same as the set of quantifiers triggering strong attributive agreement. Recall that all quantifiers trigger attributive agreement, except definite articles and demonstratives. The quantifier elkeach triggers attributive agreement on the adjective, but it is not compatible with -en on the adjective:

Example 3

a. Elke reade doaze
each.CG red.CG box
Each red box
b. Elk read doas-ke
each.NG red.NG box.DIM.NG
Each red little box
c. *Elke readen
each red.NEI
Each red one
d. *Elke reade
each red.NE
Each red one

In the plural, the marker of indefinite noun ellipsis -en seems to occur with definite determiners and demonstratives, but this is in all likelihood an alternative plural of the NE suffix -e. This is shown in the examples below:

Example 4

a. De read-e binne moaier
the red.NE are nicer
The red ones are nicer
b. De read-e-n binne moaier
the red.NE.PL are nicer
The red ones are nicer

Some formations in -en have been lexicalised. For example, in skjinnen literally means a clean (one), but idiomatically it means a brandy (jenever in Frisian and Dutch).

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x Literature

More details can be found in Hoekstra (1989).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989In aparten ienFriesch Dagblad15-07Taalsnipels 114
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