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8.1 Modification of clauses by adverbial APs

Some sets of adverbial APs are able to modify the clause as a whole. An example of a clause with a clausal adverbial is given below:

Glukkelk koom mien Sweegermuur ap Besäik.
fortunately came my mother-in-law on visite
Fortunately my mother-in-law came to visit.

The following subsets of clause adverbials are distinguished:

  • Subjective, such as glukkelk ‘fortunately’
  • Evaluative (or modal), such as ogenskienelk ‘apparently’
  • Of time, such as jäärsene ‘yesterday’
  • Of frequency, such as oafte ‘often’
  • Of emphasis, such as wuddelk ‘really’

Positional aspects of the various types of clause adverbs correspond to quite some extent to their semantic classification. That is, the various semantic types tend to be positionally ordered with respect to each other in case they co-occur in a clause.

All the adverbial subgroups listed above may be found either in the initial position of a main clause or in the middle field, with the exception of adverbs of emphasis, which are limited to the middle field. Adverbs of the various subgroups can sometimes be combined, which provides some insight in their unmarked ordering with respect to each other. The order listed above above corresponds roughly with the relative order from left to right in which they are found in the clause. However, word order may be affected by the pragmatics of the different scopal readings, by the definiteness of the adverbs, by the aspect of the sentence, the nature of the predicate and other factors. Nevertheless, word order tendencies cannot be circumvented by preposing a lower adverb to clause-initial position.

The sections below discuss various types of adverbials.

[+]1. Subjective clause adverbials

Subjective clause adverbs express the speaker's subjective emotion or evaluation concerning the denotation of the clause, such as hope or happiness. They include the following: hopentlik ‘hopefully’, glukkelk ‘fortunately’, uunglukkelkerwieze ‘unfortunately’. They have a somewhat bookish character, and they are more characteristic of written language. Instead of hopentlik ‘hopefully’, it would be more natural to use the verb on which the adverbial is based, as in: ‘I hope that’. Similarly, instead of ‘fortunately’, it would be more natural to say ‘it is nice that’.

[+]2. Evaluative (or modal) adverbials

Evaluative or modal clause adverbs express modalities like possibility, probability, and so on. Modal clause adverbs include the following: ogenskienelk ‘apparently’, sääft ‘maybe, possibly’, toumäts ‘maybe’, woarskienelk ‘probably’. This have the form of APs. In some cases, there are semantic equivalents belonging to a different syntactic category. Probability and possibility are also expressed as VPs in kon weze ‘can be > maybe’, maiweze ‘could be > maybe’ and kuudweze ‘could be > maybe’. Fort writes the first of these three collocations as two words, the other two as one word. Another modal adverb is toumäts ‘maybe’, which also means ‘now and then’.

[+]3. Time adverbials

Time adverbs are in fact rarely of the category AP. Examples of time adverbials, all categories, include the following: nu ‘now’, do ‘then’, dälich ‘today’, mäiden ‘tomorrow, in the morning’, middai ‘at noon’, jäärsene ‘yesterday’, ättertied ‘afterwards, later’, äntelk ‘finally’, toulääst ‘lastly’. The following four expressions seem to belong together, perhaps as a square of opposition:

noch / silläärge
nit moor
not anymore
noch nit
not yet

The form siläärge ‘still’ is found in a sentence like the following:

Dän Nome änthoolde iek silläärge.
the name remember I still
I still remember the name.

This word more commonly occurs in the negative collocation silläärge nit ‘never’. Time is questioned with the interrogative wanner ‘when’. Time adverbials also include expressions for the hours, the days of the week, the seazons and idiomatic expressions like twiske dän Middei ‘at noon’, ju Tuwwelkeskillertied ‘the ten o’clock coffee break’, and so on. Some time adverbials also function as frequency adverbials, such as aaltied ‘always’. The distinction between time and frequency is hard to make in some cases, since frequency takes place in time. In fact, frequency imposes a count character on our conceptualisation of time. If so, we must distinguish between non-count expressions of time (including expressions which are like proper nouns), which we refer to as time adverbials in the narrow sense, and countable expressions of time, which we refer to as adverbials of frequency.

[+]4. Frequency adverbials

Frequency adverbs provide information about the frequency of occurrence of events. Like time adverbials, frequency adverbs are usually Noun Phrases (NPs) rather than Adjective Phrases (APs). Examples of frequency adverbials are: gau ‘frequently’, gerägeld ‘regularly, insen ‘once, one day’ with its Low German interference moal ‘once, ever’ or eenmoal ‘once’, twäie ‘twice’, maasttied ‘most of the time’, säilden ‘seldom’, aalmantou ‘continually’ (interference or loan: immertou, eengoalwäg). The following four expressions fit into the square of opposition:

monkens, monges
nooit, siläärge nit
nit aaltied
not always

There is a relation between frequency and countability. Thus events can be numbered with the help of numerals, which may or must be followed by a dummy noun of frequency, such as mal ‘times’ in German or keer ‘times’ in Dutch. Saterland Frisian features moal ‘times’, as in the following examples:

Älke Moal bie ju Hoochtied liet Pilatus aan Gefangenen fräi.
each time at the feast let Pilate one prisoner free
Every time at the feast, Pilate released a prisoner.
Wanner die Stiern foar‘t eerste Moal tou sjoon wezen waas.
when the star for.the first time to see been was
When the star could be seen for the first time.

The dummy noun of frequency can be preceded by ordinals to rank similar events, as shown by the example above. However, it is also possible to use a cardinal number, without a dummy noun, as in the following examples:

Hie is träie fon dussen Dokter behondeld wuden.
he is three of this doctor treated been
He has been treated by this doctor twice.
Iek häbe ju Gräid al twäie bewoaterd.
I have the lawn already twice watered
I have watered the lawn twice already.

It seems, however, that only the numbers twäie ‘two’ and träie ‘three’ can be thus used. Furthermore, the form twäie ‘two’ is a distinct form of the numeral, exclusively used for frequency. To illustrate, consider the paradigm for these two numerals:

Table 1. Overview of three distinct forms of the numerals 2 and 3.

Table 1
MSC FEM + NTR Frequency
2 twäin two twäie
3 träi trjo träie

The schwa seems to mark a nominalisation of the numeral with a frequency interpretation. This type of frequency nominalisation is restricted to the numerals 2 and 3, much as in English twice and thrice. The numeral 1 has a frequency nominalisation in –n though: insen ‘once’. There is difference in meaning between insen ‘once’ and moal ‘once’. The former seems to be an existential quantifier of frequency, so it has a count character, whereas moal is an existential quantifier over time, where the distinction between count and mass is blurred. According to Fort, the collocation silläärge nit is a loan from Low German. This leaves open the question whether the meaning ‘still’ (see the section time adverbials above) is also a loan. Furthermore, it is unclear whether nooit ‘never’ is native to Saterland Frisian. The relative word order of time and frequency adverbials is such that time adverbials precede frequency adverbials in Saterland Frisian (but not in English). An example is given below:

Et hät dusse Wiek twäie reejäl kniepen.
it has this week twice royal pinched
It has been freezing twice this week.

Here the time adverbial specifies the time frame to which the adverbial of frequency, a nominalised numeral, applies.

[+]5. Adverbials of emphasis

Adverbs of emphasis provide emotional emphasis to the utterance. They include the following: jo ‘really’, apsluut ‘absolutely’, wuttelk ‘really’. No adverb of emphasis may occur in clause-initial position; instead they are restricted to the middle field. An example with jo ‘really’ is given below:

Du moast dät jo dwo.
you must that really do
You must really do that.
*Jo moast du dät dwo.
really must you that do
Really, you must do that.

Adverbs of emphasis can hardly be fronted to the beginning of the sentence.

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