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The intransitive postposition omaround as a verbal diminutive
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The intransitive postposition omaround is used to express that the activity described by the verb is degraded in some sense: the activity has no purpose, or it does not lead to the usual result, or it takes place in a disorderly fashion, or it is repeated without effect. An example is given below, where the word ompakkefuss around with is characteristically used in a context involving a dismissive attitude:

Example 1

As it buorkundich wurdt, dat je mei it Fryske proaza ompakke, dan wurdt de basis foar suver minslik forkear wer namste smeller
if it known becomes that one with the Frisian prose around.fuss then becomes the basis for pure human intercourse again the smaller
If word gets around that one messes around with Frisian prose, then the basis for normal social intercourse becomes so much smaller again
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The meaning contribution of the postposition omaround can be compared to the meaning contribution of a diminutive: neither is completely predictable, but they serve to express that an entity or event is small in some dimension (physical size, or perceived importance, and so on). Its meaning contribution is so regularly pejorative, or, to be more precise, dismissive. Some more examples are provided below.

Example 2

a. Op in Sneontemiddei dangelje de fjouwer man wat op 'e wei om
on a Saturday.afternoon dangle the four men a little on the street around
The four men are hanging around on the street
b. Hy prate dan mei har om as in bern
he talked then with her around like a child
He talked to her as to a child
c. Ik rin wat om op 'e keamer
I walk a little around on the room
I walk around a little in the room (to no purpose)

The example below shows that postposition is incompatible with the presence of a direct object:

Example 3

*Jelle slacht de bankbestjoerder om
Jelle hits the bank.manager around
Jelle is hitting the bankmanager

The postposition is compatible however with the presence of a prepositional object:

Example 4

Se slane op de bankbestjoerder om
they hit at the bank.manager around
They are hitting the bankmanager (at random)

The postposition is regularly accompanied by other elements which express that the activity denoted by the verb takes place in a degraded manner. So the postposition characteristically combines with verbs which must (or may) have an interpretation of degraded activity. Reconsider the following example:

Example 5

Op in Sneontemiddei dangelje de fjouwer man wat op 'e wei om
on a Saturday.afternoon dangle the four men a little on the street around
On a Saturday afternoon, the four men are loitering around on the street

In this example, the verb is formed with the iterative or frequantative suffix -el. Such a suffix is often used to express repetition without purpose, for example in Finnish. In Germanic languages, it is no longer productive, and its meaning effect may be obscured.

Another way to degrade an activity verb is by adding a modifier indicating that the activity took place to a small extent. The existential quantifier watwhat, something (homophonous to the question word) is characteristically used to this effect:

Example 6

Ik rin wat om op 'e keamer
I walk a little around on the room
I walk around a little in the room

The quantifier indiscriminately refers to either the quality or the quantity of the activity reported. In many cases, the bare use of subject, verb and omaround is not acceptable. In many cases, an Adposition Phrase (PP) must be added, especially with verbs that do not primarily refer to physical activity. Consider the following examples with the verb prateto talk, where the prepositional object becomes obligatory after the postposition has been added:

Example 7

a. Hy praat
he talk
He is talking
b. *Hy praat om
he talk around
He is talking and talking
c. Hy praat der op om
he talk R.it on around
He is talking and talking about it (without saying anything substantial)

The verb boartsjeto play, which does not primarily refer to motion either, behaves in the same fashion. It can be accompanied by a locative PP, or it can be accompanied by an adjunct PP specifying an extra argument. The examples below shows that the verb can occur without the adposition omabout, and that the presence of the adposition makes the presence of a PP complement obligatory.

Example 8

a. Hy boartet
he plays
He is playing
b. *Hy boartet om
he plays around
He is playing around
c. Hy boartet op 'e flier om
he talk on the floor around
He is playing around on the floor

In the last example above, verb and adposition are accompanied by a locative PP. The combination of verb and adposition omaround may also be accompanied by an adjunct PP. In the latter case, an existential measure quantifier wat makes the sentence slightly more natural:

Example 9

a. ?Hy boartet mei har poppen om
he talk with her dolls around
He is playing around with her dolls
b. Hy boartet wat mei har poppen om
he talk QE with her dolls around
He is playing around a little with her dolls

With motion verbs, the bare combination of verb and postposition is allowed, but even there a PP of location is usually added:

Example 10

a. Hy rint
he walks
He is walking
b. ?Hy rint om
he walks around
He is walking around

The bare use of motion verb and postposition is slightly odd, as if it were emphatic. Much more usual are the alternatives in (11):

Example 11

a. Hy rint wat om
he walks a little around
He is walking around a little
b. Hy rint yn 'e keamer om
he walks in the room around
He is walking around in the room
c. Hy rint wat yn 'e keamer om
he walks a little in the room around
He is walking around a little in the room

The postposition does not form a constituent with the PP, as is clear from (12):

Example 12

a. *Yn dy keamer om ha ik faak rûn
in that room around have I often walked
In that room, I often walked around
b. Yn dy keamer ha ik faak om rûn
in that room have I often around walked
In that room, I often walked around

Frisian omaround differs from Dutch rondaround. Dutch rond may also refer to orderly activities, and it can more easily occur without a PP or an existential measure quantifier such as wata little.

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More details about this topic can be found in Dyk (1991).

References:
  • Dyk, Siebren1991Om as partikel fan struktuerleaze aktiviteitenTydskrift foar Fryske Taalkunde669-98
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