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Verb as base

Deriving a noun from a verbal base by suffixation implies a transposition or a change of word class. Basically, there are two options. The simplest one is the nominalization of the verbal action or process itself . The result is an action noun. The most natural and neutral way of doing this is the nominal infinitive, i.e. the suffix -en: from the verb skriuwe to write, for example, we derive skriuwen writing. The derived noun may also refer to one of the verb's arguments. Depending on the type of argument, this results in the formation of agent nouns and patient nouns, although in some cases it may be better to speak of subject nouns and object nouns. A very common suffix to derive agent nouns is -er. With this suffix we can form the word skriuwer writer. Patient nouns can be formed by the suffix -sel. It can, for instance, derive the word skriuwsel scribblings.

In other words, a skriuwer is someone who writes, and skriuwsel is something that is written. The writing itself, then, is it skriuwen, where the suffix -en forms a neuter noun and hence selects the definite article it. Although this is the basic pattern with respect to the nominalization of verbs, the reality is not always as clear-cut as the distinction pictured above. The borders are sometimes vague, and some suffixes, especially the very productive ones like -er and -ing, may display more than one function.

As has been said above, the suffix -en is the clearest representative of suffixes deriving action nouns (or nomina actionis, as they are sometimes also called). Another frequent suffix in this category is -ing, although it might not be as frequent as Dutch -ing or German -ung. A Frisian variant is -inge, although this is only used nowadays in an elevated style. Very common is -erij (see also its idiosyncratic allomorph -ernij). Although deriving action nouns in the first place, both -ing and -erij have other functions as well.

Other suffixes deriving action nouns are less widespread. Take -aasje, which only takes non-germanic bases. It may have inspired the emergence of -eraasje, although this typically takes native verbs. Clearly unproductive is -enis, which also may have a result reading in a number of cases. We see the same with -st and its allomorph -ste. Also unproductive is -te. Really rare in producing action nouns are -t, which rather derives patient nouns, and -er, which is the main suffix for deriving agent nouns. Also quite idiosyncratic in this function is the diminutive suffix -DIM.

The main suffix for creating agent nouns is -er. It may also form instrument names, object names and, on a minor scale, action nouns. Its female counterpart, creating female nouns, is -ster. The suffix -ert also forms subject nouns, although with a pejorative connotation. Suffixes active in the non-native part of the lexicon are -ant, -eur, -int and -ist.. Some derivations with the diminutive suffix -DIM may also act as agent nouns, although this use is certainly not productive. Also unproductive is -man, which furthermore has the property that it is a suffixoid, derived from the noun man man.

The suffix -sel is the most important suffix in the derivation of patient nouns. It can also represent the subject in the case of some verbal bases that only take a theme argument. This suffix does not denote persons; this task is rather carried out by the suffix -ling. Clearly unproductive is -t. The suffix -emint takes non-germanic bases, although some native Frisian verbs can also function as input. Some minor suffixes, at least in the formation of patient or object nouns on the basis of verbs, are -skip, -st and the diminutive suffix -DIM.


More details about the suffixes can be found by following the corresponding links, presented below in alphabetical order: