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Overview of strong and weak pronouns, subject and object
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Personal pronouns can be distinguished and listed on the basis of their person, number and gender features. Personal pronouns in Frisian show an opposition between subject and object pronouns. In addition, strong pronouns can be distinguished from weak ones.

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The system of personal subject and object pronouns in Frisian is given in the table below:


Table 1
Gloss Subject form Object form
1SG ik[ɪk] my[mɛ.i]
2SG do[do:] dy[dɛ.i]
3SG, MSC hy[hɛ.i ̯] him[hɪm]
3SG, FEM hja[ja] / sy[sɛ.i ̯] har[har] / der[dər] (/ se[sə])
3SG, NT it[ət] it[ət]
1PL wy[vɛ.i] ús[üs]
2PL jim[jɪm] / jimme[jɪmə] jim[jɪm] / jimme[jɪmə]
3PL hja[ja] / sy[sɛ.i] har[har] / harren[harn]
3SG, IMP men[mön] jin[jön]
2PL, FRM jo[jo:] / je[jə] jo[jo:] / je[jə]
  • 1SG. The weak form of the first person singular subject pronoun shows reduction of the vowel to schwa or deletion of the vowel altogether. The weak form of the object pronoun myme shows reduction of the diphthong to a short lax front vowel.
  • 2SG. The weak form of the second person singular subject pronoun doyou shows reduction of the vowel to schwa or deletion of the vowel altogether or reduction of the complete pronoun (pro-drop). The weak form of the object pronoun dyyou shows reduction of the diphthong to a short lax front vowel.
  • 3SG MSC. The weak form of the third person subject pronoun masculine hyhe shows no reduction in case it precedes the verb. In case it follows the verb or the complementiser, it may appear in its weak form as er, pronounced as a schwa followed by a dental /r/. The weak form of the masculine object pronoun himhim can be weakened to a schwa followed by the /m/.
  • 3SG.FEM. The weak form of the third person subject pronoun feminine hja shows no reduction (with the exception of some dialects which allow reduction of the vowel to schwa). This subject form is going out of use, whereas its object forms are still in use. The weak object form is der, pronounced with a schwa and homophonous to the weak form of the locative pronoun. The weak pronoun seher is unusual; its use should be further investigated. The weak form of the third person subject pronoun feminine sy shows reduction of the diphthong to schwa. The weak subject form is identical to the weak object form. Both subject and object forms may be due to interference from Dutch, and even if not, they are clearly supported by their homophony with the Dutch forms.
  • 3SG NT. This form is always weak and pronounced with a schwa. Its subject form is homophonous to its object form.
  • 1PL. The weak form of the subject pronoun wywe shows reduction to schwa. In the dialect of Woods Frisian it is reduced to a short lax front vowel. The object form úsus is never reduced.
  • 2PL. The vowel of jim / jimmeyou is never reduced. Its subject form is homophonous to its object form. A schwa may optionally be appended to either the subject or the object form.
  • 3PL. The weak form of the third person plural subject pronoun hja shows no reduction. This subject form is almost obsolete, whereas its object form is still in use as a strong pronoun. Interestingly, the 3PL object form har cannot appear as the weak form der. This is surprising since the 3SG.FEM, which is in its strong form homophonous to the 3PL, has der as its weak form. The weak form of the 3PL subject pronoun sy shows reduction of the diphthong to schwa, just like the 3SG.FEM. The weak subject form is identical to the weak object form. Paradigmatically, the object pronoun har or, prescriptively, harren may be considered the strong equivalent of se, seeing that har has no weak form and se has no strong form.
  • 3SG, IMP. The impersonal pronoun men is usually pronounced with a schwa. Its object form jin may be reduced to je, pronounced with a schwa. If stressed, it is pronounced with a mid front vowel. The meaning of this pronoun usually includes the speaker, unlike Dutch men.
  • 2PL, FRM. The formal pronoun triggers plural agreement on the verb, but it has singular semantics. For plural reference, the informal pronoun 2PL jim is used, usually together with a name or a title in the vocative, or the name or title is used as the subject in a third person utterance. The two options are illustrated below:
    Example 1

    a. Hearen, wolle jim in bakje kofje?
    gentlemen want you a cup coffee
    Gentlemen, do you want a cup of coffee?
    b. Wolle de hearen in bakje kofje?
    want the gentlemen a cup coffee
    Do the gentlemen want a cup of coffee?

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More details can be found in Hoekstra (1994).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1994Pronouns and Case. On the distribution of Frisian harren and se 'them'Leuvense bijdragen8347-65
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