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2.2 PP complements to Nouns

The Adposition Phrase (PP) may refer to an element involved in the event or related to the object referred to by the noun. In the following two examples, the PP is used as a complement to the Noun:

Ju Lere [uur Jesus Christus].
the teaching about Jesus Christ
The teaching about Jesus Christ.
Is nit die Potteboaker Here [uur dän Leem?]
is not the potter lord about the clay
Isn’t the potter the lord of the clay?

The PP functions as a theme complement to the Noun. Instead of uur ‘about’, the default preposition fon ‘of’ may also be used for themes, unless the preposition of the theme is idiosyncratically selected. PPs always follow the Noun.


There is a designated external position for arguments of NP. This position precedes the Noun. Agents, themes and possessors can be externally realised in this prenominal position, that is, in front of the Noun Phrase (NP). It is the position in which possessive pronouns show up. For example, a possessor may be realised following the Noun in a PP headed by fon ‘of’, but it may also be realised in the designated genitival position preceding the Noun:

Ju Noze fon Johnny.
the nose of Johnny
The nose of Johnny.
Johnnys Noze.
Johnny’s nose
Johnny’s nose.

The term 'possessor' is in fact ambiguous. Semantically, it refers to the thematic role of possessor. Syntactically, it only refers to the prenominal designated position, external to the postnominal domain in which PPs are found. So, the complement of the preposition fon ‘of’ is semantically a possessor, but not syntactically, because it doesn’t occur in the prenominal possessor position. This syntactic possessor position is comparable to the subject position of a clause.

The choice of preposition correlates with the thematic role which is assigned to the prepositional complement. An adposition like uur is usually associated with themes. It never denotes the possessor. In contrast, the adposition fon ‘of’ has a wide array of uses. It can be used with Noun Phrases (NPs) bearing various thematic roles. It may denote a possessor, a theme or an agent. As a result, the following NP is three ways ambiguous:

Ju Bielde [fon do kwode].
the image of the evil.ones
The image of the evil ones.

The bracketed PP can denote the ones possessing the image, the ones who made the image, or the ones of whom the image is made. Such cases are rare, though. In contrast, the preposition an ‘to’ is mainly used for indirect objects and for locational contact. In the following example, this adposition is used for the thematic role characteristically present with indirect objects:

‘n Bräif [an Heern un Frou Taler].
a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Taler
A letter to Mr. and Mrs. Taler.

The PP used for the subject in the passive voice is either truch ‘by’ or fon ‘of’. This PP can also be used inside NPs to denote the agent associated with the noun. To illustrate, consider the example below:

Die Free mäd God [truch Jesus Christus].
the peace with God through Jesus Christ
The peace with God by / through Jesus Christ.

Here Christ is presented as the author of peace (‘by’), though there is also the reading in which Christ is the way of peace (‘through’). The adposition truch ‘by’ is used for the subject in a passive clause as well:

Ook Barnabas wuud truch hiere Falskhaid ferlat.
Also Barnabas became by their falsehood tempted
Barnabas was also led astray by their falseness.

Adpositions which are selected by the Noun may not appear in the prenominal position for external arguments:

Ju Lere Lere. [uur Arafat]
the teaching about Arafat
The teaching about Arafat.
(*) Arafat sien Lere.
Arafat his teaching
Arafat’s teaching.

So the last sentence is ungrammatical in the reading in which Arafat is the theme of teaching. If the theme can be expressed in a PP headed by the adposition fon ‘of’, then it is usually possible to have the theme in the prenominal position, as in the following example:

[Dät Foto fon Clemens] läite iek roomje.
the photo of Clemens let I frame
I’ll have the photo of Clemens framed.
[Clemens sien Foto] läite iek roomje.
Clemens his photo let I frame
I’ll have the photo of Clemens framed.

The prenominal argument position is reserved for persons. Furthermore, the prenominal argument is generally quite simple. It is not very well possible to expand the prenominal argument. Nouns can be elided following a possessor (see: possessive pronouns).

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