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The suffix -lik derives adjectives from verbs (begripe to understand > begryplik understandable), nouns (minske human > minsklik human) adjectives (siik ill > syklik sickly), prepositions (foar for, in favour > foarlik precocious) and a numeral (ien one > ienlik single). There are a few derivations of which the basic form is not recognizable anymore (*aak > aaklik unpleasant). All base types will be discussed in the sections below.

When it is attached to transitive verbs, the suffix -lik has the same function as -ber: both add a passive meaning and a modal meaning "possible to be {verb}-ed"; they are in competition with each other.

When it is attached to nouns, the suffix -lik has the same semantic function as the suffixes -eftich, -ich, and -sk: "resembling {noun}" (minsk human > minsklik human) or "having a lot of {noun}" (romte space > romtlik spatial).

[+]Verb as base

Derivations with -lik from transitive verbs can have a modal-passive meaning (begripe to understand > begryplik understandable, erve to inherit > erflik heritable and oannimme to accept > oannimlik plausible). For example, in begryplike preek means a sermon that is understandable.

Derivations with -lik from transitive verbs can also have a meaning of necessity (bespotte to ridicule > bespotlik ridiculous, winskje to desire> winsklik desirable and ferachte to despise > ferachtlik despicable). For example, in bespotlike keardel means a despicable bloke.

With some intransitive and ergative verbs as their base, -lik derivations can have a modal-active meaning in sentences like the following:

Example 1

Dy fisk is stjerlik
that fish is mortal
That fish is mortal
It drinken is bedjerlik
the drink is perishable
The drink is perishable

An active meaning and a meaning of necessity occur in derivations like the following: begrutlik regrettable, muoilik touched, fertrietlik sadly, oandwaanlik touching and skriklik tempting. For example, in begrutlike man means a man that you have to feel regrets for.

Some derivations with -lik which have a verb as base form have the non-modal meaning "with a tendency to {verb}". In this case, the suffix is comparable with the meaning of the suffixes -sk and -ich. Examples are boartsje to play > boartlik playful and bewege to move > beweechlik lively.

[+]Noun as base

When it is attached to nouns, the suffix -lik has the same semantic function as the suffixes -eftich, -ich, and -sk: "resembling {noun}" (minsk human > minsklik human) or "having a lot of {noun}" (romte space > romtlik spatial). Sometimes, the meaning is bleached to "related to {noun}". Examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
amt office amtlik official
tsjerke church tsjerklik ecclesiastical
steat state steatlik stately
saak business saaklik business(like)
frou woman froulik female
ear honour earlik honest
skea damage skealik harmful
noed concern noedlik worrisome
god god godlik divine
freon friend freonlik friendly
bestek sense besteklik sensible
hert hart hertlik hearty
ôfgriis horror ôfgryslik horrible
kristen Christian kristlik Christian
noarden north noardlik northern
[+]Adjective as base

The suffix -lik can also derive adjectives from other adjectives. Here it is difficult to determine a clear semantic function of the suffix. Examples are given below:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
leaf sweet leaflik sweet
ryk rich ryklik copious
gek crazy geklik funny
goed good guodlik gentle
fet fat fetlik fatty
wiis wise wyslik wisely
[+]Preposition as base

The suffix -lik can also derive adjectives from a few prepositions. Examples are given below:

Table 3
Base form Derivation
efter behind efterlik retarded
yn in ynlik profound
yn in inerlik internal
ûnder under ûnderlik downward
út out uterlik outward

The formations mostly have a metaphorical meaning. In ut out > úterlik outward and yn in > inerlik one's inner self we find the linking element -er-. The words inerlik one's inner self and uterlik looks can also be converted to a noun.

[+]Numeral as base

The suffix -lik can also have a numeral as base. This "pattern" is, however, restricted to only one numeral: ien one, from which can be formed ienlik single. Other numerals + -lik are ungrammatical: twa two > *twalik, acht eight > *achtlik. The same holds for numeral+-sum, which can also only be added to ien one.

[+]Opaque base

There are quite some words ending in -lik that do not have a base form which is an existing word:

Table 4
noflik pleasant
ridlik reasonable
dalik later
pitertuerlik strange
binlik fair
heislik awful
behyplik difficult
ûnhjirmlik unbearable
maklik easy
The word maklik gets a linking element -ge- when it is preceded by the prefix ûn-: ûn-ge-maklik uncomfortable. Possibly, this form is related to gemak ease.

[+]Phonological properties

If the base is a particle verb, the stress moves from the particle to the verb, as in: TApasse to apply > taPASlik applicable.

If the base form ends in /-en/, this is truncated before -lik (noarden north > noardlik northern), and if the base form ends in schwa, this is also truncated before -lik (romte space > romtlik spatial).

When -lik [lək] is added to the base form, the voiced fricative of that base becomes voiceless: gerive - geryflik [ɡəri:və - ɡəriflək] to assist - comfortable and drage - draachlik [dra:gə - draxlək] to bear - bearable. The only two exceptions to this rule are mooglik possible and deeglik reliable, of which the base forms *moog and *deeg are not recognizable anymore. For more phonological details about this devoicing, see the topic on the phonological domain of Final Devoicing.

To the base form ending in /-ng/ [ŋ], a /k/ is added: tagong [taɡoŋ] access > tagonklik [tagoŋklək] accessible, oarsprong [o.əsproŋ] origin > oarspronklik [o.əsproŋklək] original, kening [ke:nɪŋ] king > keninklik [ke:nɪŋklək] royal. A comparable insertion of /k/ occurs in the formation of diminutives.

After base forms ending in /n/ or /m/ one sometimes sees the insertion of /t/. Examples are: eigen own > eigentlik actually, iepen open > iepentlik openly, earm poor > earmtlik poorly.

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Dutch influence

Some language users insert a schwa between the stem and -lik. Thus next to deeglik reliable one encounters degelik reliable, or one sees goddelik divine instead of godlik divine. This habit must be ascribed to influence from Dutch, where the corresponding suffix is -(e)lijk.

[+]Morphological potential

Adjectives ending in -lik can be nominalized with -heid: freonlikheid friendliness, oarspronklikheid originality, tapaslikheid applicability. Instead of -heid, -ens is often used to convey distance from Dutch. For example: freonlikens friendliness, oarspronklikens originality, tapaslikens applicability. See for more details the topic on these suffixes.

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This article is based on Hoekstra (1998:134-135). For the verbal bases, Van der Meer (1989) makes a comparison with the suffix -ber.

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Meer, Geart van der1989Oer -ber, -lik, -eftich, -ich, -erich, -sk en -sum : (earste stik: -ber en -lik ferlike)Us wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk3843-54