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ge-
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The productive prefix ge- derives nouns from verbs. An example is jeuzeljeto nag > gejeuzelnagging. The meaning of a derivation with ge- can best be described as all the nagging or the constant nagging. As these translations show, derivations with ge- bear an iterative or collective aspect. As a result, the derivations often have a pejorative connotation, expressing irritation or impatience. The prefix ge- can only be attached to verbs that denote an action without an implicit endpoint. Next to these productive derivations with ge-, there are also 'fossilized' formations. An example is gebrûkuse. These derivations do not show collective or iterative semantics. Another difference is the fact that they can often have a plural. All derivations with ge- have the common property of neuter gender.

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[+] General properties

The prefix ge- is very productive. It derives action nouns from verbs by way of attachement to the stem of the verb. An example is jeuzeljeto nag > gejeuzelnagging. The derived nouns always have neuter gender, and thus take the definite article it, for example in it gejeuzelthe.N naggingthe nagging. Here are some examples of prefixation with ge-:


Table 1
Base form Derivation
traapjeto kick getraapkicking
skriemeto cry geskriemcrying
fytseto cycle gefytscycling
riddenearjeto reason geriddenearreasoning
flokketo swear geflokswearing
fleaneto fly gefleanflying
skriuweto write geskriuwwriting
prakkesearjeto brood geprakkesearbrooding
nokkerjeto giggle genokkergiggling
[+] Semantic properties

The meaning of ge- formations can be described as "continuous V-ing". Thus gejeuzel is continuous nagging, gebid (from biddeto pray) is continuous praying and so forth. With inherent telic verbs, an aspect of iterativity is evoked, for instance in getraapconstant kicking (from traapjeto kick).

As a result of this aspect of continuation, derivations with ge- often have a pejorative connotation, expressing irritation, disapproval or impatience. Sometimes the negative connotation is already available in the base form, which might apply to eameljeto moan. In other cases, the negative connotation is not in the verb itself, so it can only be attributed to the addition of ge-. An example is prateto talk > gepraat(irritating) talking, for example in:

Example 1

Wat in gepraat ha dy minsken
what a PREF-talk have those people
O, the talking of those people

However, a derivation with ge- does not necessarily have to bear such a negative connotation. The derivation gepraattalking, for example, can also be used in a neutral context:

Example 2

Hja harke nei it gepraat fan 'e bern
she listened to the PREF-talk of the kids
She listened to the talking of the kids
[+] Input restrictions

Semantically, the prefix ge- can only be attached to verbs that allow a durational aspect. Stative verbs are excluded, e.g. witteto know > *gewit. The base form of a derivation with ge- must denote an action which has not ended yet, for example timmerjeto build > getimmerthe building. Verbs with an implicit endpoint are only permitted if they allow an iterative interpretation, for example tongerjeto thunder cf. > getongerrepeated thundering. Therefore, a formation like *gestjer (from stjerreto die) is odd, and could only be felicitous in the context of a rehearsal for a play. Compare also the contrast below:

Example 3

*Dat geskriuw fan syn dissertaasje
that writing of his dissertation
That writing of his dissertation
Dat geskriuw oan syn dissertaasje
that writing on his dissertation
That writing on his dissertation

The preposition fanof presupposes a terminal point, which is lacking with the preposition oan.

Morphologically, the prefix ge- cannot only be added to simplex verbs but to complex verbs as well. Examples of derivations with ge- from different sorts of complex verbs are listed below:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
snokkerjeto sob (suffixed verb) gesnokkerthe sobbing
gnyskjeto sneer (suffixed verb) gegnyskthe sneering
útsykjeto sort out (separable particle verb) geútsyk/útgesykthe sorting out
ôfblazeto fart (separable particle verb) geôfblaas/ôfgeblaasthe farting
bierdrinketo drink beer (noun incorporation) gebierdrinkthe beer drinking
strôtskrabjeto clear the throat (noun incorporation) gestrôtskraabthe clearing of the throat
domprateto talk rubbish (adverb incorporation) gedompraatthe talking of rubbish
fierljeppeto pole jump over ditches (adverb incorporation) gefierljepthe pole jumping over ditches
If the root word is a separable particle verb, the prefix ge- can have two possible positions: before the verb, but also between the particle and the verb. An example is omdangeljeto stroll around > geomdangelthe strolling around (the prefix is placed before the complex verb). The alternative is omgedangelthe strolling around (prefix is placed between the particle om and the verbal stem dangel). Two more examples, i.e. útgesyk and ôfgeblaas, are shown in the table above.

The prefix ge- can be accepted by prefixed verbs, but solely when the relation between the prefix and the base form is opaque. An example is bedjerreto spoil > gebedjer(constant) spoiling. If the relation between the prefix and the base form is transparent, derivation with ge- is not possible. An example is beprateto discuss > *gebepraatthe discussing.

To some extent the prefix ge- can be combined with verb clusters. This is possible if the verb cluster consists of a verb and a prepositional phrase referring to a place. The prefix is then positioned between the prepositional phrase and the verb. Two examples are listed below:

Example 4

Dat nei de kroech gerin
that to the pub PREF-walk
That (constant) walking to the pub
Dat troch it sân gebûkel
that through the sand PREF-stumble
That (constant) stumbling through the sand

The prefix ge- cannot be combined with a verb cluster containing a prepositional phrase that does not refer to a place. The same applies to a verbal cluster with a noun phrase complement (b). This is shown in the examples below:

Example 5

a. ??Dat op 'e bus gewacht
that for the bus waiting
That waiting for the bus
b. ??Dat segaren gesmook
that cigars smoking
That smoking of cigars

Only PPs connected to particle verbs with om- denoting structureless activities are more tolerant:

Example 6

a. Dat opinoar omgeblaai
that on each other PTCL-PREF-slobber
That (constant) slobbering around on each other
b. Dat yninoar omgepraat
that in each other PTCL-PREF-talk
that continuous unclear talking with each other
[+] Phonological properties

The prefix is pronounced as [ɡə]. Hence, it does not bear stress (see schwa restriction). An example isgeSKRIUWwriting).

[+] Morphological potential

Formations with ge- cannot be pluralized (gebaltshouting > *gebaltenshoutings) or diminuated (*gebaltsje. Non-transparent derivations with ge-, which are no longer felt to be derivations, can often have a plural, however (see the non-productive derivations with ge- below).

[+] Non-productive derivations with ge-

As described above, derivations with ge- with a continuous meaning are productive in Frisian. But there are also derivations with ge- that are not formed by this productive process. These derivations are 'fossilized' words; derived from a verb, but not evaluated as a derivation anymore. These derivations do not bear a continuous meaning as the productive derivations with ge- do, and they can often have a plural. Some of these 'fossilized' nouns have a base form which is opaque. Examples are listed below:

Table 3
Base form Derivation Plural
fjochtsjeto fight gefjochtthe fight gefjochtenfightings
bouweto build gebouthe building gebouwenbuildings
brûketo use gebrûkthe use gebrûkencustoms
skinketo give geskinkgift geskinkengifts
duldeto tolerate geduldpatience no plural
opaque base geroftrumour geroftenrumours
Moreover, we also find derivations with an opaque base that do not allow a plural. Examples are gewisseconscience and gerakneeds.

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Distancing from Dutch

Frisian language users frequently interpret the prefix ge- as an element that has crept in from Dutch, because of the fact that Dutch past participles are introduced by ge-, whereas Frisian past participles are not. An example is the Dutch past participle gezienseen, in comparison with Frisian sjoen. As a result, conscious language users tend to avoid nouns starting with ge- and prefer a synonym which is considered more 'typical Frisian', even if this is an archaism or a neologism. Some examples are listed below:


Table 4
Noun with ge- Distancing synonym
geheugenmemory ûnthâldmemory
gehuchthamlet buorskiphamlet
geboartebirth bertebirth
gesprekconversation petearconversation
gefoelfeeling fielingfeeling
gebrûkuse brûkmeuse
gewoantehabit wensthabit
gelooffaith leauwe(n)faith

This tendency can only be observed in non-productive derivations, however, in particular those that are felt to be direct loans from Dutch. For example, the words geheugen, geboarte, gesprek and geloof are labeled as Dutchisms in the Frisian comprehensive dictionary Veen (1984-2011). In many of these cases the prefix ge- is not the only trigger leading to viewing the word as a Dutchism. The word gefoelfeeling, for example, can be connected to a Dutch verb voelen, while its Frisian counterpart is fiele.

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Literature

Good overviews are offered by Tamminga (1954), Tamminga (1963:230-232) and Hoekstra (1998:118-119). The distancing effect is dealt with most extensively in Tamminga (1954:95-96). See also Gildemacher (2004) and Tamminga (1963:232).

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x Literature

Good overviews are offered by Tamminga (1954), Tamminga (1963:230-232) and Hoekstra (1998:118-119). The distancing effect is dealt with most extensively in Tamminga (1954:95-96). See also Gildemacher (2004) and Tamminga (1963:232).

References:
  • Gildemacher, Karel F2004GerakLeeuwarder Courant9-71
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1954'Né, net sa'n geoankrûp!' Eat oer it foarheaksel ge- foaral by haedwurdenDe Pompeblêdden: tydskrift foar Fryske stúdzje1593-97
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1954'Né, net sa'n geoankrûp!' Eat oer it foarheaksel ge- foaral by haedwurdenDe Pompeblêdden: tydskrift foar Fryske stúdzje1593-97
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1963Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IBoalsertA.J. Osinga
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1963Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IBoalsertA.J. Osinga
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der (ed.)1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske Taal - Woordenboek der Friese Taal
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