Case, deficient Pronouns and the arbitrary Pronoun Men in Frisian

Bouke Slofstra, E. Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The Frisian arbitrary pronoun men is analysed here as a deficient pronoun (Cardinaletti & Starke 1996), since it does not allow of expansion of its projection by means of premodification, coordination or relativisation. Furthermore, men occurs adjacent to the tensed verb in main clauses and to the complementiser in embedded clauses. To explain these data, we suggest that men is case licensed in PF under adjacency by means of a head head relation, being deficient as a maximal projection. The relation between case and deficiency is further reflected in the deficient (or suppletive) morphological case paradigm of men. Evidence is presented that the paradigm of men in written Frisian originated in the 16th-17th centuries by suppletion of forms of the indefinite pronoun ien/jin ‘one’. Out of these arose the reflexive object form of the arbitrary pronoun men: jin, and as its reflexive jin thus truly became part of men’s paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-259
JournalActa Linguistica Hafniensia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • case
  • deficient pronouns
  • arbitrary pronoun
  • indefinite pronoun
  • historical linguitics
  • Frisian


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