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Geographical -er

In several respects geographical adjectives in -er display a behaviour that is different from other partitive adjectives, see also .


All placenames within the province of Fryslân form their adjectives in Frisian by means of the suffix -er:

Table 1
Ljouwert Ljouwert-er *Ljouwert-s
Lúnbert Lúnbert-er *Lúnbert-s
Bokwert Bokwert-er *Bokwert-s
Placenames outside the province of Fryslân almost always have a form in -s (sometimes alongside a form in -er):
Table 2
Nijmegen *Nijmeg-er Nijmeeg-s
Keulen ?Keul-er Keul-s
Haarlem Haarlemm-er Haarlem-s
Amsterdam Amsterdamm-er Amsterdam-s
The two suffixes differ in that the geographical suffix -er may not occur in the partitive adjective construction, whereas the -s suffix may. In that case the modifier typysk characteristically must be added. Geographical adjectives preferably cooccur with the adverbial modifier typysk characteristically, because it obviates the relational semantics of geographical adjectives and turns them into set-denoting adjectives. The examples below illustrate the different behaviour of geographical -er and -s in this respect:

Example 1

a. Wat (typysk) Amsterdam-s
something characteristic Amsterdam
Something characteristic of Amsterdam
b. *Wat (typysk) Ljouwert-er
something characteristic Ljouwert
Something characteristic of Ljouwert

This is related to the fact that geographical adjectives in -er cannot be used predicatively whereas adjectives in -s can:

Example 2

a. Sa'n noard-súd tunnel is typysk Amsterdams
such.a north-south tunnel is characteristic Amsterdam
Such a north-south tunnel is characteristic of Amsterdam
b. *Sa'n noard-súd tunnel is typysk Ljouwerter
such.a north-south tunnel is characteristic Ljouwert
Such a north-south tunnel is characteristic of Ljouwert

The -er geographical adjective may be suffixed with an -s, but this combination is used to denote the speech from the town or city, as the “Dictionary of the Frisian Language” (Wurdboek fan de Fryske Taal) confirms for Snitsers speech of the city of Snits; in that specific use, it may enter the partitive adjective construction:

Example 3

a. By Cambuur wurdt it Ljouwerters noch wol sprutsen
at Cambuur is the speech.of.Ljouwert still indeed spoken
The Ljouwerter speech is indeed still spoken at the football club Cambuur
b. Dy útspraak is wat typysk Ljouwerters
that pronunciation is something characteristically speech.of.Ljouwert
That pronunciation is something that is characteristic of the speech of Ljouwert
c. ?Sa'n noard-súd tunnel is wat typysk Ljouwerters
such.a north-south tunnel is thing characteristic Ljouwert
Such a north-south tunnel is something characteristic of Ljouwert