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Possessors can be used in a construction of noun ellipsis.


In present-day Frisian, the older system of genitive case can only be found with proper names and certain kinship terms mainly functioning as proper names. There are two genitive suffixes, -s and -e. The latter cannot occur in elliptic contexts, however. This is shown in the examples below:

*Dit binne heit-e klompen en dat binne memme
This are father.GEN clogs and that are mother.GEN ___
These clogs are father's and those are mother's

However, the other genitive ending -s is allowed elliptically, though the examples sound rather bookish. The following examples are from Hoekema (1996:44):

a. Waans skuon binne dat?
whose shoes are that
Whose shoes are that?
a.' Us mem-s
our mother.GEN ___
a.'' It jonkje-s
the boy.GEN ___
The boy's

There is also a third genitive ending, -es. This suffix only shows up in elliptical contexts, and according to Hoekema (1996:44), it has the phonological restriction that the base should end in a stressed syllable. He provides the following examples:

a. Waans klompen binne dat? Ús memm-es ___
whose wooden shoes are that our mom.GEN
Whose wooden shoes are that? Mom's
b. Ús oarreheit-es / Piternelles / Gearte Trin-es / Geart en Trines
our grandfather.GEN Piternel.GEN Geart's Tryn.GEN Geart en Tryn.GEN
Grandfather's / Piternel's / Geart's Tryn's / Geart and Tryn's

Recall that the form -es is also the form which is characteristically used for the elliptical use of possessive pronouns. The elliptic forms of the possessive pronouns can also show up in such predicative constructions:

Dy fyts is mines
that bike is my.GEN ___
That bike is mine

Alongside the standard cases with noun ellipsis, where the antecedent can be found in a previous clause, we also find the special genitive forms in simple predicative constructions like the following:

Dy fyts is Jannes
that bike is Jan.GEN ___
That bike is Jan's

It seems that the noun fyts bike can be assumed after the genitive noun Jannes. However, the noun fyts bike cannot be inserted after Jannes, since the -es genitive is exclusively reserved for noun ellipsis. In this respect, the -es genitive contrasts with the -s genitive, as is shown in the example below:

a. *Dy fyts is Jannes fyts
that bike is Jan.GEN bike
That bike is Jan's bike
b. Dy fyts is Jans fyts
that bike is Jan.GEN bike
That bike is Jan's bike

The special pronominal forms pattern with the -es genitive, since they too are exclusively reserved for noun ellipsis:

*Dy fyts is mines fyts
that bike is mine.GEN bike
That bike is my bike

In general, the use of the genitive is rather restricted in Frisian. Instead, two alternative constructions are much more common. One uses the possessive pronoun. So, if we talk about a captain who owns a bicycle, this may be formulated as:

De kaptein syn fyts
the captain his bicycle
The captain's bicycle

Elliptically, this results in the following phrase:

De kaptein sin-es
the captain his.NE
The captain's bicycle

The other possessive construction features the preposition fan of:

De fyts fan 'e kaptein
the bicycle of the captain
The captain's bicycle

In elliptical use this results in the following phrase:

Dy fan 'e kaptein
that of the captain
The captain's one
  • Hoekema, Teake1996Beknopte Friese vormleerLeeuwardenAfûk
  • Hoekema, Teake1996Beknopte Friese vormleerLeeuwardenAfûk
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