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-sma and -stra

In the province of Fryslân many people have a surname ending in -sma or -stra. Examples are Hoekstra, Dykstra, Beetsma and Riemersma. One can also use -sma or -stra as suffixes after adjectives in order to describe a person in a negative way. Examples are the nouns aakliksma dreadful person (coming from aaklik awful) and typstra strange person coming from typysk strange.

[+]General properties

If one dislikes a person, one can say for example hy is ûnnoazel he is stupid, but one can also describe this person by means of a noun which is built from an adjective denoting an unfavourable property + -sma or -stra. Examples are given below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
nuver strange nuversma strange person
ûnnoazel stupid ûnnoazelsma stupid person
mislik nauseous misliksma dreadful person
nijsgjirrich curious nijsgjirrichsma nosey parker

There is only one noun ending in -stra: typstra strange person, which comes from typysk strange (where -ysk has been truncated). In the following example the derivations are put in a context:

Example 1

a. Hy is wol sa'n nuversma, want hy hat nea in jas oan
he is well such.a strange.SUFF, because he has never a jacket on
He is such a strange person who never wears a jacket
b. Wat moat dy aakliksma hjir yn 'e goedichheid?
what must that awful.SUFF here in the goodness
What on earth is that dreadful person doing here?
c. Frou Bosma? Dy nijsgjirrichsma moat altyd alles witte
lady Bosma? that curious.SUFF must always everything know.INF
Mrs. Bosma? That nosey parker always has to know everything
d. Dy man is wol sa'n typstra! Hy pankoeket altyd mei syn trompet om
that man is well such.a typical.SUFF! he pancakes always with a trumpet around
That man is such a strange person! He is always busy with his trumpet

These derivations in -sma or -stra are often used for properties which are not temporary, but describe someone's personality. As stated above, the suffixes can be only used after negative adjectives. Positive adjectives like moai beautiful and aardich kind cannot be input for -sma or -stra: *moaisma beautiful person or *aardichsma kind person.

It is remarkable that -sma only follows adjectives without stress on the final syllable: AAKliksma dreadful person and NUversma strange person. For -stra the final stress is no problem: TYPstra strange person.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:105-106), Hoekstra and Tiersma (1994:519) and Hoekstra (1990).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990AakliksmaFriesch Dagblad18-08Taalsnipels 156
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich & Tiersma, Peter Meijes1994FrisianKönig, Ekkehard & Auwera, Johan van der (eds.)The Germanic LanguagesRoutledge505-531