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The suffix -sum is an unproductive suffix that derives adjectives mainly from verbs (swije to be silent > swijsum taciturn). There are also derivations with nouns as a base (deugd virtue > deugdsum virtuous), with adjectives (selden rarely > seldsum rare) as a base, and in one case the base is a numeral (ien one > iensum lonely). Sometimes, the base is not a currently existing free lexical item, for example in *muoi > muoisum difficult.

Derivations with -sum vary semantically. The majority of these derivations are comparable in meaning to derivations with the suffixes -ber and -lik.

[+]Verb as base

-sum mainly attaches to stems of verbs. An exception is betochtsum cautious, deliberate which has a past participle (the infinitive of this strong verb is betinke think (about), consider) as its base.

Typical for the suffix -sum is the modal-causative reading in derivations like leare to learn > learsum informative, droegje to dry > droechsum drying, groeie to grow > groeisum growing and wurkje to work > wurksum working.

A modal-passive reading "possible to be {verb}-ed" can be found in brûke to use > brûksum usable and sjonge to sing > sjongsum singable. So in sjongsum ferske is a song that can be easily sung.

An active modality reading "having ability to {verb}" can be found in: strekke to extend > streksum extendable, duorje to last > duorsum durable, bekomme to recover > bekomsum recoverable, rêde to save > rêdsum possible to save and ferfele to be bored > ferfeelsum uncomfortable.

An necessity reading can be found in grouwe to be horrified > grousum horrible. So, grousum waar is weather one has to be horrified of.

A non-modal reading "having tendency to {verb}" can be found in skreppe to work hard > skrepsum diligent, behelpe to manage > behelpsum helpful, betrouwe to trust > betrousum reliable and fertelle to tell > fertelsum communicative.

[+]Noun as base

There are only a few adjectives ending in -sum that have a noun as base, mostly denoting some abstract virtue. Hence, the derived adjectives have a positive connotation. Examples are deugd virtue > deugdsum virtuous, ear respect > earsum respectable, hân hand > hânsum handy, manageable and frede peace > freedsum peaceful.

[+]Adjective as base

An adjectival base is rare. Examples are gemien common > gemiensum common, shared and selden rarely > seldsum rare. The latter case shows truncation of -en.

[+]Numeral as base

The suffix -sum can also have a numeral as its base form. There is only one numeral to which it is attached: ien one, iensum lonely. Other numerals + -sum are ungrammatical: twa two > *twasum, fjouwer eight > *fjouwersum. The same holds for numeral+-lik, which can also only be added to ien one.

[+]Phonological properties

-sum [səm] is a non-cohering suffix and does not bear stress. However, it can influence the stress pattern of the base as it requires the main stress to be on the last stem syllable. This is relevant for particle verbs, for example in OPmerke remark > opMERKsum remarkable.

If a base word ends in a schwa, this schwa is truncated: frede peace > freedsum peaceful. We see truncation of a schwa syllable -en in selden rarely > seldsum rare.

[+]Morphological potential

Adjectives ending in -sum can serve as input for other words, especially nominalizations in -heid (seldsumheid rarity) and adjectives prefixed with ûn- (ûnbrûksum useless). In some cases, only the ûn- form exists: ûnachtsum careless but *achtsum. Verbalization is not possible, with the exception of ferûnachtsumje to neglect and feriensumje to grow lonely.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:136).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy