Pronoun Types 15
Stressed and unstressed pronouns
Stressed forms of personal and possessive pronouns are often used in (formal) writing. However, in speech the stressed forms are only used for emphasis, for example to contrast two items. This will become clear from the following short dialogues:
A: Hoe oud ben je?
B: Ik ben 21. En hoe oud ben jij?
A: How old are you?
B: I am 21. And how old are you?A: Hier is je jas.
B: Nee, dat is niet mijn jas, maar die van jou.
A: Here is your coat.
B: No, that’s not my coat but yours.
In the first dialogue speaker A asks for speaker B’s age using unstressed je. Speaker B then asks for speaker A’s age for which (s)he needs to use the stressed personal pronoun jij. Note that in spoken English A’s would not stress you but B would stress you in this situation.
In the second dialogue speaker A hands B a coat which does not belong to him/her. Speaker B then needs to use the stressed possessive pronoun mijn for contrast.
The following table shows stressed and unstressed forms of personal and possessive pronouns.
|3rd (masculine)||hij (die)
|3rd (feminine)||zij (die)
|3rd (neuter)||het (dat)
Note that not all personal and possessive pronouns have unstressed forms. The use of unstressed forms in writing is restricted. It is frowned upon to use abbreviated forms like -ie (for hij), ‘t (for het) or m’n (for mijn) in formal texts. However, forms like je, ze and we are acceptable. Likewise, it is quite common in spoken Dutch for a demostrative pronoun to be used as a stressed form of the personal pronoun of the third person: dat for singular neuter (i.e. het) and die for singular and plural, masculine and feminine, subject and object. However, this is unacceptable in a more formal register.
It is possible to observe a preferred word order in which types of pronouns appear in a text. Basically, the further a pronoun appears from the antecedent, the weaker its form. This is an important cohesive device. Look at the following example:
Ken je Hein? Die heeft het statistiekexamen al twee keer gedaan. Hij heeft het nog nooit gehaald. Ik denk dat- ie ‘t nooit zal halen…
Do you know Hein? He has taken the statistics exam twice already. He has never passed it. I don’t think he’ll ever pass it….
Hein is the antecedent, the person who is referred back to with pronouns. The first time he is referred to in this conversational turn, the (demonstrative) pronoun die is used, which is a strong pronoun. The second time Hein is referred to, the speaker uses the personal pronoun hij, a weaker pronoun than die but still a stressed form. The last time Hein is referred to, the speaker uses ie, the unstressed form of the pronoun hij in Dutch, and therefore the weakest possible form. A similar thing happens with het statistiekexamen. The first reference to the statistics exam is with the personal pronoun het (stressed; dat would also be possible here), but the second reference is with the unstressed form ‘t.