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6 Form and distribution of adpositions with respect to staticity and construction type

Lengthened adpositions are adpositions which end in a schwa and which are related to adpositions not ending in schwa. Thus they form a small lexical paradigm consisting of two forms, for example: ute and uut ‘out’. The following pair of examples illustrates their use:

Hie is tou de Skoule ute.
he is to the school out.S
He is out of school.
Ju Dochter koom al tou’t Huus uut.
the daughter came already to.the house out
The daughter already came out of the house.

The adpositions in schwa express staticity, which is indicated in the gloss by an S. Thus the maker of staticity expresses that a state is involved. The distribution of adpositions is further determined by the type of complement which they have.

[+]1. Introduction

Marking staticity seems to be optional in many instances. That is, there are static uses of adpositions which are not marked as such. However, it is never allowed to mark a dynamic use of an adposition with the marker for staticity, as illustrated below:

Die Skoule is ute.
the school is out.S
The school is out.’
*Die Skoule gungt ute.
the school goes out.S
The school is going out.

Furthermore, we never find the marker of staticity on prepositions.

*Do Rouke fale uut do Bome.
the crows fall out the trees
The crows fall out of the trees.

The marker of staticity is only found on the following three types of adpositions:

  • Bare adpositions in a static predication, either intransitive or transitive
  • Static postpositions preceded by a full PP
  • Static R-adpositions, that is, postpositions preceded by an R-pronoun, that is, postpositions derived from prepositions of which the complement is realised as an R-pronoun.

In some cases, the pair of lexically related forms does not exhibit lengthening but vowel change. Thus the form of a pair of adpositions is very irregular. In the following pair, a glide is strengthened to a consonant: owe and ou ‘off’. In the following pair, the vowel is lengthened: ap and ape ‘on’. In some cases, different stems are combined in one lexical paradigm. Lengthened adpositions can thus even be formally related to an etymologically ‘wrong’ preposition (e.g. oane, formally connected to an ‘attached to’, but semantically often connected to in ‘in’). In other words: there is no straightforward syntactic or morphological relation between both subcategories, though a pair of adpositions will share the same unit of meaning: the same ‘semanteme. Their meaning and use may be idiomatic, especially in the case of bare adpositions. For example, inne belongs to the semanteme IN, but as a bare adposition it always means ‘at home’.

Staticity can be informally paraphrased as permanence. Permanence is commonly expressed with stative copulas like to be and to have. In contrast, modal verbs do not express permanence but a modality of change. Thus we find a contrast like the following:

Hie hät ´n Houd ape.
he has a head on.S
He has a hat on.
Hie mout ´n Houd ap / *ape.
he must a head on on.S
He should have a hat on.

The modal verb is like a verb of motion in being dynamic, in evoking the concept of change. Below we discuss the three types of adpositions which may be marked for staticity. In addition, some more examples will be given illustrating the semantic distinction between static and dynamic (or permanence and change).

[+]2. Bare adpositions

Bare adpositions are characteristically marked for staticity when they combine with stative copulas, not when they combine with dynamic verbs. Some examples are given below:

Nu is dät Spil ute.
now is the game out.S
Now the game is over.’
Dou dät Lucht uut / *ute.
put the light off off.S
Put the light off.
Wie wieren noch ape, as wie dät heerden.
we were still up.S when we it heard
We were still up when we heard it.
Ju Sunne kumt ap / *ape.
the sun comes up up.S
The sun is coming up.

The examples of static adpositions above involve intransitive predication. We similarly find that adpositions are marked for staticity in case they are used in a transitive predication. Some examples are given below:

Hie hät naan Jikkel oane.
he has no jacket to.S
He doesn’t wear a jacket.
Hie hät dät maaste mäd dut Wucht ape.
he has the most with this girl up.S
He likes this girl most.

An interesting example is the following:

‘Don’t touch me.’

This example involves a modal verb, and in the previous modal example (7), the static marking was not allowed, since the modal expressed a change. In this example, however, the modal is allowed to co-occur with static marking of the adposition. The explanation is that in (14) the modal does not express a change but a continuation of a permanent situation. Put differently, the interpretation of (14) is that the addressee is not touching the speaker, and the speaker warns the addressee that this state should continue to exist. This explanation implies that it is not possible to utter (14) in case the addressee is already touching the speaker, for in that case, the modal verb will express a change. This should be further tested with native speakers.

[+]3. Postpositions preceded by a full PP

The PP + adposition construction exhibits marking of the adposition in case it receives a static interpretation. Some examples are presented below:

Aal, wät in dät Skäin oane waas, wuud uutbeden.
all which in the barn in.S was, was auctioned
Everything which was in the barn, was auctioned.
Hie is fon dän Striek owe.
he is of the line off.S
He’s lost the thread.
Hie is fon do Bene owe.
he is of the legs off.S
He is bedridden.

‘The elasticity has gone out of the garter.’

Die Spon is uut dät Hozebeend ute.
the elasticity is out the garter out.S

The first and last examples has a plain locative, whereas the two middle examples have a more idiomatic interpretation. For completeness’ sake, we also present an example in which the postposition is not marked:

Dan genen ze alle in de Säärke oun.
then went they all in the church in
Then they all went into the church.’

In this example, there is no lengthened adposition, nor is the semantic condition for lengthening (staticity) met.

[+]4. R-adpositions

The R-adpositional construction may exhibit the same sensitivity to the semantic distinction between static and dynamic states of affairs. Some examples are presented below:

Deer is neen Jeeld oane.
R is no money in.S
There’s no money in it.
Dät sit deer-oane.
that sits R-in.S
That is his (or: her) her nature.
Deer seet hie uk al deer-oane.
R sat he also already R-in.S
And he was already in it.
Du moast die deer-oun reke.
you must you R-in give
You must go into it.
Ju Omme is deer ute.
the breath is R out.S
His breath has left him.
Wieruum moastest du dät deer-uut haue?
why must you that R-out hit
Why did you have to blurt it out?
Wan me deer-ape sit.
when one R.on.S sits
‘When one sits on it.’
Wan dät Swäl aprooit, moast du 'n Stuk Späk deer-ap läze.
When the ulcer on.swells, must you a piece bacon R.on put
When the ulcer swells on, you must put a piece of bacon on it.

Marking for staticity is never found in case the verb expresses change. If the R-adposition is lengthened, it is always with a verb that expresses a state.

[+]5. List of static adpositions and their dynamic counterparts

Below we list pairs of adpositions of which one form expresses staticity, whereas the other form does not. The pairing lists the static adpositions and determines their dynamic counterparts, and the constructions in which the oppositions manifests itself. Our classification of adpositions (bare adposition, R-adposition or postposition with complement) is in fact a classification depending on the type of complement. It will be abbreviated as follows: bare, full, R.

Table 1
Static Dynamic Gloss Type of complementation
oane an, oun ‘to’ Bare, Full, R
ape ap ‘up’ Bare, Full, R
bätinne bätien ‘behind.in’ Bare, Full, R
inne in ‘in’ Bare, Full
oane ien ‘in’ R
owe ou ‘off’ Bare, Full, R
truge truch ‘through’ Bare, Full, R
ute uut ‘out’ Bare, Full, R
wäge wäch ‘away’ Bare
waie wai ‘away to’ Bare

The form of an adposition is then determined by two factors, apart from its lexical meaning:

  • Its type of complementation (bare, full or R)
  • Its type of meaning: static or dynamic, which depends in part on the accompanying verb

As is clear from the table, the contrast is mainly found with bare adpositions, much less so in case the adposition takes a complement (R-pronoun or full PP). Note further that many of the adpositions mentioned here are also used as prepositions and as verbal prefixes. However, the static forms are neither used as prepositions nor as prefixes. The fact that static adpositions do not appear as verbal prefixes may be taken as an indication that static marking is a syntactic phenomenon.

[+]6. The case of wäch ‘away’ and wai ‘to’

Sater Frisian disposes over two different adpositions which are both etymologically derived from a noun meaning ‘way’. The present-day Frisian form wai means ‘away to somewhere’. The (High and Low) German form wäch means ‘away’, and it may imply disappearance. Both adpositions are accompanied by lengthened counterparts, waie and wäge, in case they are used without a complement, that is, as bare adpositions. Sater Frisian wäch has in essence the same form and meaning as Low German weg. It is in itself surprising that Sater Frisian wai has a different meaning, because Old Frisian wei (as an adposition) also meant ‘away, lost’ as does West Frisian wei. In other words: the Old Frisian word was synonymous with German weg. But now, the Sater Frisian adposition wai is, instead, used as a directional postposition: ätter (Romelse) wai, ‘to (Ramsloh)’. In other words, the Old Frisian word did not disappear after the introduction of the German loan word, but rather it encroached on the meaning and use of other adpositions, as if some push and pull chain was involved. For example, consider the following sentences:

Die Ponkouke rulde ätter dät Swien wai.
the pancake rolled to the pig to
The pancake rolled to the pig.
Däde kumt ook fluks ätter him wai.
Däde comes also fast to him to
Däde is quickly coming to him.

Wai can in some cases be replaced by tou:

Ätter Huus wai gunge. Ätter Huus tou gunge
afte home to go after home to go
‘To go home.’
Hie ron ätter him tou.
he walked to him to
‘He walked towards him.’

The lengthened counterparts wäge and waie occur almost exclusively as bare adpositions in for example wägeblieuwe ‘to faint, literally: to remain away’. Consider also the following example:

Wier sunt jie waie wezen?
where are you away been
Where have you been?

Here wäch or wäge would be very unacceptable. The R-pronoun deerwai means ‘to that place’ compare German dahin, Dutch daarheen, daarnaartoe. There is no such word as *deerwäge, just like there is no word like *daarweg in Dutch.

There is also a difference in meaning between the verbal particles wai- and wäch, in case they are used as dynamic bare adpositions, although both have a semantic aspect of ‘away’. Separable complex verbs composed with wai- refer to well-chosen destinations. Waibale means: ‘to reason or argue in a certain direction’, wächbale means: ‘to chatter along’. Waibrange means ‘to bury someone (to their last resting place)’ and wächbrange means ‘to deliver something (so we got rid of it)’. Waikume means: ‘to make ends meet’, wächkome means ‘to get lost’. Thus the two adpositions have specialised its meanings, though at one time they must have competed, when wäch entered the language as a loan from Low German.

[+]7. The case of mäd and mee

The following table charts how the adpositions mäd and mee cut the cake among themselves in Saterland Frisian.

Table 2
mäd preposition Iek boalde mäd him. I had a conversation with him
mee bare adposition Sefa wüül jädden mee. Sefa was eager to join us
mäd R-adposition Jo hieden naan Ärfoulch deermäd. they were not successful with that
mee adverb Bliedskup heert mee deerbie. Joy is part of the game, too.

This adposition does not mark staticity. What is interesting is that the distribution of the pair differs in one environment from that of Dutch. The Dutch equivalent of mäd is not used as a R-pronoun (met). Instead, the equivalent of mee ‘with’ is used (mee). So in Dutch the R-adposition patterns with the bare adposition, whereas in Saterland Frisian the R-adposition patters with the preposition.

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