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alder-
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The prefix alder- derives adjectives. Its bases are adjectives, but only in the form of the superlative. There are two functions. One is that the derivation denotes an even higher degree than what is indicated by the superlative, hence something like the absolutely highest degree. An example is heechsthighest > alderheechsthighest of all (from the adjective heechhigh). The other meaning is a more general high degree, for example in in alderfreonlikst famkea very friendly girl. The two interpretations have consequences in the realm of possible determiners and stress.

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[+] The highest degree of all

The prefix alder-, pronounced as [ɔldər], can be attached to the superlative form of an adjectival base, which is characterized in Frisian by the suffix -ste. The function of the prefix is to indicate an absolute degree, even higher than is expressed by the superlative. For example, the superlative form of heechhigh is heechstehighest. However, the adjective can get an even higher degree than that, by adding the prefix alder- to the superlative adjective. We then get the form alderheechstehighest of all. Of course, the use of the prefix may also have an emotional function.

More examples of derivations with alder- are given below:


Table 1
Base Superlative Derivation
ienone earstefirst alderearstefirst of all
freonlikfriendly freonlikstefriendliest alderfreonlikstefriendliest of all
goedwell bêstebest alderbêstebest of all
heislikawful heislikstemost awful alderheislikstemost awful of all
letlate lêstelast alderlêstelast of all
minbad minsteworse alderminsteworst of all
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Reinforcement by reduplication

This highest (emotional) degree can even be reinforced by iterating the prefix alder-. In this way, one can encounter forms as alderalderheechste, alderalderalderheechste, etc. This pattern is an instance of reduplication.

There is also a variant alderbalder-, for instance in alderbalderbêstextremely good or alderbaldermoaistextremely beautiful. The inserted /b/ may have developed from the preposition byby, in the former construction alder by alder.

[+] A general high degree

Besides surpassing the superlative the prefix alder- can still have another function, i.e. as an intensifying prefix in a more general sense. A common feature still is the requirement that only superlative forms may function as base. An example is

Example 1

Dat famke lake alderfreonlikst
that girl laughed PREF-friendly-SUP
That girl laughed quite friendly

There are some major differences with what could be called the "super-superlatives" that have been dealt with above. One concerns the input. The "super-superlatives" can take any possible superlative form. Formations with the general high degree interpretation, however, only occur with adjectives denoting a subjective property, i.e. a property which cannot be established with a measurement instrument. Adjectives like freonlikfriendly, ôfgryslikawful and prachtichbeautiful denote such subjective properties. That is the reason why one can speak of in alderfreonlikst famkea very friendly girl, in alderôfgryslikste filman extremely bad movie and alderprachtichst waarvery beautiful weather. In contrast, an adjective like heechhigh, for instance, denotes an objective property, and it is therefore impossible to speak of *in alderheechste beam.

The difference in meaning creates a syntactic difference. The real superlative denotes something that is one of a kind. Therefore only the definite article is allowed. The meaning of a general high degree allows for wider possibilities, and now in alderfreonlikst famke with the meaning a very friendly girl is quite conceivable.

Another difference between the alder- superlatives and the alder- intensifying adjectives concerns stress. The superlatives always have stress on the prefix (a), while the intensifying adjectives can also have stress on the adjective (b). Compare:

Example 2

a. Dat famke is it ALDERfreonlikst
That girl is the friendliest of all
b. In ALDERfreonlikst famke
A very friendly girl
b.' In alderFREONLIKST famke
A very friendly girl
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Derivation and inflection

The requirement that alder- takes the superlative form of the adjective as input conflicts with the general tendency that inflectional morphology appears outside derivational morphology. Something comparable can be observed with respect to the comparative degree, also in relation to derivational prefixes.

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x Derivation and inflection

The requirement that alder- takes the superlative form of the adjective as input conflicts with the general tendency that inflectional morphology appears outside derivational morphology. Something comparable can be observed with respect to the comparative degree, also in relation to derivational prefixes.

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x
Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1993).

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x Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1993).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1993AlderfreonlikstFriesch Dagblad27-02Taalsnipels 249
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