• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
Restriction of an A-construction with silleshall to embedded clauses
quickinfo

The A-construction may contain the past participle of the modal verb silleshall with irrealis semantics. The irrealis sille A-construction occurs in embedded clauses only in nineteenth-century Frisian.

readmore

Two examples are provided in (1) of irrealis A-constructions featuring the perfect participle of silleshall:

Example 1

a. Wa wit oft hy wol lokkich mei Janke wêze sillen hie
who knows if he DcP happy with Janke be.OI shall.PfP had
Who knows if he would have been happy with Janke
b. Dy't it krûd net útfine sillen hie, as it der jit net west hie
who the gunpowder not invent.OI shall.PfP had if it there yet nog been had
Who would not have invented gunpowder unless it existed already

Such examples are ungrammatical in Modern Frisian. In Modern Frisian, such embedded examples are often rendered as a two-verb construction with the past tense of the verb hawwehave, that is hiehad, as in the example below.

Example 2

a. Wa wit oft hy wol lokkich mei Janke west hie
who knows if he DcP happy with Janke been had
Who knows if he would have been happy with Janke
b. Dy't it krûd net útfûn hie, as it der jit net west hie
who the gunpowder not invented had if it there yet nog been had
Who would not have invented gunpowder unless it existed already

Furthermore, such examples, when questioned, are ungrammatical in main clauses in present-day Frisian under an irrealis reading, as is clear from (3):

Example 3

a. *Hie hy wol lokkich mei Janke west?
had he DcP happy with Janke been
Would he have been happy with Janke?
b. *Hie hy it buskrûd net útfûn?
had he the gunpowder not invented
Wouldn't he have invented gunpowder?

These examples can only have a realis reading. In order to get the irrealis reading, such examples must feature a three-verb construction based on the past tense of silleshall, in case they occur in main clauses:

Example 4

a. Soe hy wol lokkich mei Janke west hawwe?
would he DcP happy with Janke been have
Would he have been happy with Janke?
b. Soe hy it buskrûd net útfûn hawwe?
would he the gunpowder not invented have
Wouldn't he have invented gunpowder

However, the two verb construction is often acceptable in case the counterfactual conditional clause is present:

Example 5

a. Hie hy it buskrûd wol útfûn as ik him holpen hie?
had he the gunpowder DcP invented if I him helped had
Would he have invented gunpowder if I had helped him?
b. Soe hy it buskrûd wol útfûn ha as ik him holpen hie?
would he the gunpowder DcP invented have if I him helped had
Would he have invented gunpowder if I had helped him?

So the unacceptability of the two-verb construction in main clauses may be related to the presence of a realis presupposition which can be cancelled by the presence of a counterfactual conditional clause, but which becomes an entailment if it is not explicitly cancelled.

References:
    Suggestions for further reading ▼
    phonology
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    morphology
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    syntax
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    cite
    print