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1 Word formation

The most frequent ways of word formation are compounding and derivation.

  • Compounding [1.1] is a process which combines two or more free morphemes into a new word, which is called a compound. For example: Taaskenbuuk (‘pocket book’) from Taaske and Bouk.
  • Derivation [1.2] combines a free morpheme with a bound morpheme, for example Wurigaid (‘weariness’), from the word wurich and the suffix -aid.

Apart from compounding and derivation, some minor patterns of word formation [1.3] occur in Saterland Frisian, especially Univerbation and Construction Dependent Morphology.

Univerbation is an essentially diachronical process, where two syntactically interdependent words have grown into one. This is the case, for example, with the complementiser uumdat (‘because’).

An example of Construction Dependent Morphology is wät Flugges (‘something beautiful’). Adjectives can only feature this -es ending in particular syntactic contexts for example in adjacency with wät (‘something’).


Compounding comes in many shapes and forms. Some compounds are composed of more than two subparts (e.g. the synthetic compound twintichjierich ‘twenty year old’). Other compounds contain morphemes that cannot be considered real words (like the reduplicative compound hikhakje). There are also compounds which take whole phrases (instead of single words) as input of the compounding processes, for example Pis-ap-Bääd (‘a bedwetter’, lit. ‘a piss-on-bed’) and Goudwederdruppen (‘large raindrops’, lit. ‘good-weather-drops’).

Compounding often involves allomorphy. For example, when the words Taaske (‘pocket’) and Bouk (‘book’) are combined in order to create the compound Taaskenbouk (‘pocket book’), a special compounding form Taasken- is used instead of the lexeme Taaske itself.

Synthetic compounds, like the already mentioned adjective twintichjierich, comprise elements of both compounding (i.e. the input words twintich ‘twenty’ and Jier ‘year’) and derivation (i.e. the suffix -ich). Circumfixation (e.g. Gedoute, ‘behaviour’) is less frequent.

Derivation mostly involves prefixation (e.g. uungliek ‘unequal’) or suffixation (e.g. holten ‘wooden’).

It is worth mentioning that many new words have also entered the language by way of borrowing. This has occurred for centuries, in particular from Latin and French. This is relevant to morphology as some affixes only combine with words or stems from the Roman stock. The most important source of loan words are, not surprisingly, High German and Low German.

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