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In an attributive construction, the past participle assigns the same thematic role as the one an active verb assigns to its direct object in a sentence in the active voice.


The external argument of a predicate is the one assigned external to the phrase containing the predicate. A minimal pair is given below:

Example 1

a. De [troch de kompjûter opsleine] gegevens
the by the computer stored data
The data stored by the computer
b. De [gegevens opslaande] kompjûter
the data storing computer
The (data storing) computer

The past participle opsleine stored assigns the direct object thematic role to its external argument, the noun gegevens data. In contrast, the present participle opslaande storing assigns the subject thematic role to its external argument, the noun kompjûter computer. It is generally the case that:

  1. The nominal argument of an attributive past participle receives the direct object thematic role
  2. The direct object thematic role is the one assigned by a verb in the active voice to its direct object.
The following pair makes it clear that the same thematic role is assigned in the predicative construction and in the attributive construction:

Example 2

a. De gegevens binne opslein
the data are stored
The data have been stored
b. De opsleine gegevens
the stored data
The stored data

Intransitive verbs have only one argument. Some verbs assign a direct object thematic role to their single argument, as signalledd by the use of wêze be in the perfect tense, whereas other assign the subject thematic role, as signalledd by the use of hawwe have in the perfect tense:

Example 3

a. It iis is doe brutsen
the ice is then broken
The ice is then broken
b. It nôt hat hinne en wer widze
the grain has to and fro waved
The grain has waved to and fro

Correspondingly, the past participle of brekke break can appear in the attributive construction, whereas the past participle of widzje waved cannot:

Example 4

a. It brutsen iis
the broken ice
The broken ice
b. *It widze nôt
the waved grain
The waved grain