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The periphrastic superlative is expressed by the word meast most preceding the adjective.


The superlative can not only be expressed by the superlative morpheme -st following the adjective, but also by the word meast most preceding the adjective. The word meast most is itself the superlative corresponding to positive folle many/much and to comparative mear more. So there is an a priori choice, although not every adjective allows either a morphological or a periphrastic superlative:

Example 1

a. yntelligenst - meast yntelligent
most intelligent
b. *rynskst - meast rynsk
most lavish
c. moaist - *meast moai
most beautiful

In actual practice, there are some factors favouring either the morphological or the periphrastic superlative. Roughly speaking, the periphrastic superlative occurs more easily with words having more syllables, the more so in case the stress does not fall on the first syllable. There are some specific cases in which the periphrastic superlative is favoured. Adjectives in –sk, for example, cannot form a morphological superlative. The same holds for certain pseudo-participles and for coordination constructions (see Pseudo-participles and Coordination).

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More details can be found in Hoekstra (2002).

  • Hoekstra, Eric2002Meast ferneamd of ferneamdstFriesch Dagblad10-08Taalgenoat en taalgeniet 27