• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
The complementiser clitic
quickinfo

Interrogative pronouns can be used to introduce embedded questions. In addition, wawho can be used as a prepositional complement in relative clauses, and waanswhose and wa synwho his can be used as possessors in relative clauses. In these cases (except for the case of possessors), written language requires that interrogative pronouns are written with a final -t.

Table 1
Main clause Embedded clause
Who wa wa't
What wat wat
What (prepositional complement) wêr wêr't

readmore

This -t has been argued to be the remainder of the complementiser oftwhether (Hoekstra (1993)). It is still written sometimes:

Example 1

Wa oft it set hat witte wy net
who whether it put has know we not
We do not know who put it there

The complementiser oft is in free variation with the complementiser as. This complementiser is also used to introduce conditional clauses, just as English if. It cannot be the source of the clitic complementiser, because it lacks a -t. An example with the complementiser as has been given below:

Example 2

Wy witte krekt wat as de minsken jouwe
we know exactly what COMP the people give
We know exactly what people give

The -t may also be found after Adposition Phrases (PPs) containing the interrogative pronoun wawho:

Example 3

De beide dames, mei wa't er sa gesellich riden hie
the both ladies with who.COMP he so cosily driven had
The two ladies, who had been such good company on his trip

The -t is generally absent after Noun Phrases (NP) containing the interrogative possessor:

Example 4

a. Wa syn jierdei it is kin ek neat skele
who his anniversary it is can also nothing care
It does not matter whose anniversary it is
b. *Wa syn jierdei't it is kin ek neat skele
who his anniversary.COMP it is can also nothing care
It does not matter whose anniversary it is

The generalisation seems to be that the clitic can attach to an interrogative pronoun occurring on the right-hand side of the sentence-initial constituent in which it is contained. In agreement with this, the clitic cannot occur on interrogative pronouns not occurring on the right-hand side of the constituent containing them:

Example 5

a. Witst noch hoe'n moaie tiid oft we doe hân hawwe?
know.2SG still how.a nice time COMP we then had have
Do you still remember what a wonderful time we had?
b. *Witst noch hoe'n moaie tiid 't we doe hân hawwe?
know.2SG still how.a nice time COMP we then had have
Do you still remember what a wonderful time we had?
c. *Witst noch hoe'n 't moaie tiid we doe hân hawwe?
know.2SG still how.a COMP nice time we then had have
Do you still remember what a wonderful time we had?
References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1993The Split CP Hypothesis and the Frisian Complementizer systemUnpublishedFryske AkademyLjouwert
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
cite
print