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The morphology and semantics of nouns occurring in nominal ellipsis greatly resembles what we see in the genitive possessor construction (see personal names), as in Hindriks jas Hindrik's coat. In the case of nominal ellipsis the essential difference is the fact that the possession noun is not expressed overtly, so that only the form Hindriks is left. A sentential example to illustrate this effect is dit is net myn jas mar Hindriks this is not my coat but Hindrik's. The elided element (coat) can be recovered here from the context. Such a recovery is not necessary in an example like Jan is by Hindriks Jan is at Hindrik's. In this construction, sometimes called local genitive, a notion "home" is inherently presupposed.

The genitival nouns in the context of nominal ellipsis differ morphologically from a full genitive construction where the possessor noun ends in a stressed syllable. In that case, the elliptic ending is not -s, but rather -es. We thus get forms like Jannes Jan's or memmes mother's. The existence of these different forms is an important reason for dealing with these forms in this separate topic. The special forms also turn up in examples like in suster fan Ruerdes a sister of Ruerd's. There seems to be nothing specifically elliptic in this construction, sometimes dubbed as the double genitive, but a common feature is the fact that the genitival noun is not followed by another noun.

[+]Formal properties

The elliptic ending of nouns can be considered a variant of the genitive found with prenominal possessor nouns as they are dealt with in the topic on case, and in particular the genitive ending as it occurs after personal names). For example, also in the elliptic construction only personal names or equivalents are involved. The essential syntactic difference, however, is the fact that in case of ellipsis we do not find a possession noun, as this is elided. What is left is the possessor noun, plus its ending. Take domenys tún vicar-GEN garden the vicar's garden as a full phrase. Under certain conditions, the possession noun tún may be elided, resulting in elliptical domenys vicar-ELL (where in the gloss ELL stands for "elliptic suffix").

Not only does this use offer a different syntactic outlook but also the suffix attached to the possessor noun may differ. This is not the case after unstressed syllables as in DOmeny vicar. Its genitive ending -s also figures in elliptic use, as can be seen above. However, if the possessor noun ends in a stressed syllable, then the elliptic ending is not -s but rather -es, pronounced as [əs]. Hence, the ellipitic use of the name Jan is Jannes and not the normal genitive Jans. Some further examples are:

Table 1
Base form Genitive Elliptic
Geart Gearts Geartes
Frits Frits' Fritses
mem mother mems/memme memmes
har man her husband har mans har mannes
poes cat poes' poezes
Sytske Sytskes Sytskes
pake grandfather pakes/pake' pakes
Hindrik Hindriks Hindriks
de slachter the butcher de slachters de slachters

Note that nouns that can also deploy a weak -e-genitive (discussed in the possessive suffix -e) likewise have -es (cf. memmes) or -s (cf. pakes) as elliptic form. So, mem mother may have a genitive form memme, but elliptically it is memmes. The word pake grandfather may have a genitive pake', with the schwa-ending merged with the stem, but in ellipsis we only have the form pakes.

[+]Standard ellipsis

The standard case of ellipsis deploys an antecedent that can be used to recover the content of the elided noun:

Example 1

a. Hjir steane myn klompen, en dêr steane Jannes
here stand my wooden.shoes, and there stand Jan's
Here are my wooden shoes, and there are Jan's
b. Dit is net Hindriks fyts, mar Fritses
This is not Hindrik's bike, but Frits

It is clear from the context given in the first example that the discussion is about Jan's wooden shoes, and in the second example it is about a bike.

The same recovery mechanism can also be performed by pointing at some object or a comparable act. Thus in

Example 2

Dat is Sytskes
That is Sytske's

we know from the pragmatic situation what is being talked about.

[+]Local genitive

A special case is the so-called local genitive. It occurs with the adpositions by at and nei ... ta to. Compare the following examples:

Example 3

a. by de bakkers at the baker's
b. by domenys at the vicar's
c. by Pieres at Pier's
d. nei de slachters ta to the butcher's
e. nei Tamminga's ta to Tamminga's

In such examples, it seems that expressions relating to premises or establishments, such as home / apartment / place / restaurant / bar etc are elided. This construction has become obsolete in the spoken language.

[+]The double genitive

The elliptic ending may also appear in the possessive construction with a fan-Adposition Phrase (PP) after the possessor noun. Usually, the possessor is not suffixed in possessive constructions with fan of; for more details, see predicative and complementive PPs. An example is in idee fan Jan an idea of Jan an idea of Jan. However, possibly for stylistic reasons, the possessor in this construction may get an ending: in idee fan Jannes. As this might be taken to be a double indication of possession, the construction is sometimes dubbed "the double genitive". Some further examples are given below:

Example 4

a. in suster fan Ruerdes a sister of Ruerd's
b. klean fan Sjurdtes clothes of Sjurdt's
c. de bern fan Wychman en Gelses the children of Wychman and Gels's
d. de pleats fan Ytsma's the farm of Ytsma's
e. safolle fuotstappen fan syn folkes so many footsteps of his people's
f. it hûs fan dokters the house of the doctor's

The main condition is the same as in the sections above: the construction is only possible with a name or a name-like element. However, the idea of ellipsis is less clear in this construction. Nevertheless, a common feature is the fact that the possessor is not followed by an overt noun. As with local ellipsis, this construction has also become obsolete in the spoken language.

[hide extra information]

The issue in this topic is most extensively discussed in Dyk (2011). A short comparison with similar English constructions can be found in Zandvoort (1944/1945).

  • Dyk, Siebren2011The morphology of Frisian nominal ellipsis
  • Zandvoort, R.W1944/1945More Notes on the GenitiveEnglish Studies. A Journal of English Letters and Philology261-6