• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
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The unproductive suffixes -t derives neuter collective nouns from nouns. It has an allomorph in the suffix -te, which is in free variation with -t. Examples are fûgel bird > fûgelt(e) birds and beam tree > beamt(e) trees. The derivations belong to the elevated style.

[+]General properties

Collective nouns may be formed by the suffix -t that is attached to nouns. The suffix has an allomorph -te. The two unproductive suffixes can be interchanged freely. Only in blêdte the variant with the final schwa is obligatory, surely for reasons of perception. The derivations always have neuter gender. Some examples are presented here:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
fûgel bird fûgelt(e) birds
beam tree beamt(e) trees
blom flower blomt(e) flowers
dier animal diert(e) animals
blêd leaf bledte leafs

The derivations, in both variants, belong to the elevated style. In oral language one would rather use the plural, as in fûgels birds, beammen trees, etcetera. Of course, other collectice suffixes are possible as well, for instance -guod: fûgelguod birds, beammeguod trees, etc. Since the derivations are collectives, they do not have a plural (cf. *fûgelt(e)s birds).

Although the suffix undoubtedly has the form -te historically, already the oldest attestations, around the year 1600, show the variant -t. A possible reason for the deletion of the final schwa is the fact that the derivations are neuter, and normally neuter words do not end in -e.

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Comparison with Dutch

Dutch has comparable formations, although with a circumfix, i.e. ge-vogel-te PREF-bird-SUFF birds. In comparison, the Frisian cognates have been reduced: the prefix ge- is missing, and the suffix -te may also reduce to -t. For further information on Dutch, see -ge nominaal.

[+]Phonological properties

In beam [bɪ.əm] tree > beamt(e) [bjɛmtə] trees the diphthong underwent breaking from [ɪ.ə] into [jɛ]. In blêd [blɛ:t] leaf > bledte [blɛtə] leafs the [ɛ:] has been shortened.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:87).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy