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As prepositional complement
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The relative pronoun may function as complement of a prepostion in the relative clause. Complements of prepositions feature a set of R-pronouns which cannot be used as direct arguments of the verb. They can be used as prepositional arguments. The R-pronoun behaves differently from the wh-pronoun with respect to preposition standing. The use of the wh-pronoun may be due to interference from Dutch.

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R-pronouns can be used as prepositional arguments. The relative pronoun reserved for complements of prepositions is the R-pronoun dêr'twhich, where, it, there. This relative pronoun does not have any paradigm. It has the same form, regardless of the number and gender of its antecedent. It can refer to persons as well as to non-persons. The following pair of examples shows that the relative R-pronoun is the same in the singular and the plural:

Example 1

a. It famke dêr't ik mei prate
the girl.NG.SG REL.R I with talked
The girl that I talked with
b. De famkes dêr't ik mei prate
the girl.NG.PL REL.R I with talked
The girls that I talked with

The following pair of examples shows that the relative pronoun is the same in the neuter and the common gender:

Example 2

a. De feint dêr't ik mei prate
the young.man.CG.SG REL.R I with talked
The young man that I talked with
b. It famke dêr't ik mei prate
the girl.NG.SG REL.R I with talked
The girl that I talked with

The relative R-pronoun is homophonous to the referential locative R-pronoun dêrthere, to which an alveolar plosive has been appended. This pronoun also functions as the subject in presentational, mostly indefinite, subject sentences. The alveolar plosive has been argued to be the cliticised form of the subordinating complementiser datthat (see also Hoekstra (1993). It is obligatorily present for some speakers, at least, but it is unclear to what extent it is used in spoken Frisian.

There is another relative pronoun that is sometimes used as complement of prepositions. It is not an R-pronoun. It is homophonous to the question word, to which the cliticised complementiser has been suffixed. It has the form wa'twho when referring to persons and the form watwhat, which when referring to non-persons. In case the antecedent is a person, written language allows the following alternative, which is rarely found in spoken language and which is possibly an interference from Dutch. The preposition is found at the beginning of the relative clause. It is directly followed by the relative pronoun, which is not an R-pronoun and which is homophonous to the question word. Apparently, this relative can drag along the preposition, a phenomenon which is sometimes referred to as pied-piping. This is illustrated by the example below:

Example 3

It famke mei wa't de regisseur prate
the girl with whom.COMP the director talked
The girl with whom the director talked

Stranding the preposition with non-R pronouns is ungrammatical:

Example 4

?*It famke wa't de regisseur mei prate
the girl whom.COMP the director with talked
The girl whom the director talked with

A non-human antecedent leads to an ungrammatical result or, more specifically, the relative watwhat, homophonous to the question word, cannot drag along the preposition:

Example 5

*It ûnderwerp oer wat de regisseur prate
the subject about what the director talked
The subject about which the director talked

The relative R-pronoun may not follow the fronted preposition, unlike the wh-pronoun wawho:

Example 6

a. *It famke mei dêr-'t de regisseur prate
the girl with REL.R-COMP the director talked
The girl with whom the director talked
b. *It ûnderwerp oer dêr't de regisseur prate
the subject about REL.R-COMP the director talked
The subject about which the director talked

Questioned main clauses can be introduced by a preposition, provided that the preposition, in tandem with the verb, subcategorises for a personal (animate) argument. This is illustrated by the minimal pair below. The first example in (a) involves a personal argument. The preposition in the second example in (b) allows for both personal and impersonal arguments. In the latter case in (c), the use of the R-pronoun is preferred, for some speakers:

Example 7

a. Mei wa ha jim praat?
with who have you talked
With whom did you talk?
b. ?Oer wa ha jim praat?
about who have you talked
About whom did you talk?
c. Wêr ha jim oer praat?
Wh.R have you about talked
What did you talk about?
References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989The split CP hypothesis and the Frisian complementiser system
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