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Litotes is the expression of a property by the negation of its antonym (contrary). An example is given below:

Example 1

Dat wie net ferkeard
that was not wrong
That was not wrong. => That was quite right

The Frisian sentence can have a factual interpretation or a hypothetical interpretation. The translation only expresses the factual interpretation.


Litotes is the trope by which a property is expressed by the negation of its antonym. Litotes in Frisian may pragmatically imply a quite positive judgment. It is collocationally restricted to certain adjectives. The example in (2a) can have the litotes interpretation but (2b) cannot:

Example 2

a. Dat wie net ferkeard
that was not wrong
That would not be wrong. => That would be quite right
b. Hy is net stout
he is not naughty
He is not naughty ≠> He is quite nice

In its basic interpretation, litotes may be considered the contrary of the use of the downtoner wol rather with positive adjectives:

Example 3

a. Hy is wol aardich (mar wis net mear as dat)
he is rather sympathetic but no more than that
He is rather sympathetic, but certainly nothing more than that
b. Hy is net ûnaardich (en wis net minder as dat)
he is not unsympathetic and certainly not less than that
He is not unsympathetic, and certainly nothing less than that