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The indefinite article before a plural noun in constructions expressing a high degree

The indefinite article can be used with a plural noun in order to express a high degree reading on the noun. The sentence as a whole has the force of an exclamation.


Normally, the plural form of the indefinite article is zero, as the minimal pair below shows:

Example 1

a. Hy hat in moai boek skreaun
he has a nice book written
He has written a nice book
b. Hy hat moaie boeken skreaun
he has nice book written
He has written nice books

However, exclamative constructions allow for the presence of the indefinite article in a before a plural noun:

Example 2

Wat in moaie boeken hat er skreaun!
what a nice books has he written
What nice books he has written!

The high degree reading targets the adjective, if it is present. If the adjective is absent, the high degree reading targets the noun. Similarly, the subjective dative construction allows the indefinite article to introduce a plural noun. This correlates with the fact that the subjective dative construction also causes a high degree reading on the direct object:

Example 3

Hy hat my dochs in boeken skreaun!
he has me DcP a books written
He has written quite a lot of books!

The subjective dative construction usually displays the discourse particle dochs yet, although its absence does not result in ungrammaticality.