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The unproductive prefix wjer- derives verbs from other verbs. It means against or back. An example of a derivation with wjer- is klinke to sound > wjerklinke to reverberate. It must not be confused with the verb particle wer, which means again.

Note that there is another prefix wjer- that derives nouns.

[+]General properties

The unproductive prefix wjer- derives verbs from other verbs. It means against or back. Examples of derivations with wjer- are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
lizze to lay down wjerlizze to refute
klinke to sound wjerklinke to reverberate
spegelje to reflect wjerspegelje to reflect
farre to sail wjerfarre to befall
hâlde to hold wjerhâlde to hold back
stean to stand wjerstean to resist
keatse to bounce wjerkeatse to reflect
galmje to resound wjergalmje to echo
akselje to protest wjerakselje to resist
Two exceptions, which have another meaning than against or back, are wjerkôgje to ruminate and wjerljochtsje to lighten. Considering the meaning of wjerkôgje to ruminate, one would expect the prefix wer- instead of wjer-. That this word is known as wjerkôgje though, is most likely an effect of analogy. In the other exception, wjerljochtsje to lighten, wjer must be a broken variant of wear, an older form of waar weather.
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The prefix wjer- is easily confused with the verbal particle wer. Both elements derive from the same Old Frisian root wither. This adverb occured independently, but also showed up as a prefix in verbal and nominal derivations. One can find it as such in Old Frisian as for example witherbringa to bring back, witherjeva to give back and witherwird reply. The seventeenth-century writer Gysbert Japicx spells both words as weer, which might indicate that the meaning of the prefixes overlapped in that time. Over time, the prefix wjer- has released itself in form and function from wer-. While wer again can show up as an independent element, wjer- against can only function as a prefix. It is likely that wjer- is a broken variant and wer a shortened form of seventeenth century weer. There are more languages in which a distinction in form and function between these two elements took place, for example in German (wieder again and wider against).

[+]Phonological properties

The prefix is pronounced as [vjɛr]. In verb derivations with wjer- the stress is sometimes on the prefix (WJERakselje to resist) and sometimes not (wjerGALMje to echo).

People from the southern part of the province of Fryslân leave out the [j] when pronouncing wjer-. This consonant cluster simplification is not uncommon in the relevant dialects.

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This topic is based on Veen (1984-2011) and Hoekstra (1998:150). For etymological aspects, see Tamminga (1963:92-94).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1963Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IBoalsertA.J. Osinga
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der et al1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal - Woordenboek der Friese taalFryske Akademy