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Clitic allomorphs
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Most Frisian clitics stand in a formal relation to their non-clitic (full, independent, strong) counterparts (see Cliticization). This is not to say, however, that the former still derive from the latter by means of regular phonological processes, notably vowel reduction and consonant or vowel deletion. The independent form and its clitic counterpart are more usefully regarded as separate lexical entries. This does not imply that Frisian therefore has 'special' clitics (with a phonologically speaking opaque relation to their independent counterparts). The fact that all clitics partake in conjunction reduction (see Cliticization) testifies to their status as 'simple' clitics.

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See Zwicky (1977) for the distiction between 'simple' and 'special' clitics.

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Reduction of the full vowel of him/hɪm/him (/hɪm/[həm]), for instance, inevitably results in the deletion of [h] ([həm][əm]), since the sequence [hə] is forbidden (see The glottal fricative /h/) . This procedure, however, is not likely to be invoked every time him shows up in an unstressed position.

Most function words thus have two variants, one with an independent and one with a dependent phonological status. The variation may be phonological in nature. Examples of this are the pair him/hɪm/ ~ 'em/əm/him, where the latter form can be assumed to derive historically from the former, through vowel reduction and /h/-deletion (see the above Extra). Or take wij/vɛi/ ~ wy/vi/we, where the monophthong /i/ and the diphthong /ɛi/ are historically related. However, there is also variation which cannot be understood in phonological terms or, put differently, which is phonologically opaque. The pair hy/hi/ ~ er/ər/he provides a good example of this; hyl and er have the same meaning, but there is no formal relation between them. Despite the different relations between the independent and the clitic form of function words, both must be considered as separate lexical entries.

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This need not be at variance with the distinction made by Zwicky (1977) between 'simple' and 'special' clitics. Zwicky himself notes (on page 26 and following) that simple clitics and their independent counterparts may also be engaged in a relation of suppletion.

References:
  • Zwicky, Arnold M1977On CliticsBloomington
  • Zwicky, Arnold M1977On CliticsBloomington
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