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/r/-deletion in compounds

If the left-hand member of a compound ends in /r/, the latter is in principle deletion-prone, provided that the right-hand member of the compound begins with a consonant (with the exception of /h/). Deletion of /r/ in compounds appears to be a variable process, for there are contexts in which it is quite common and others in which it is (very) rare, or absent. This is determined by phonological or morphological factors. Deletion of /r/ in compounds is the subject of this topic.

[+]General information

Deletion of /r/ in compounds is a variable process. There are, however, contexts in which it is quite common and others in which it is (very) rare, or absent. This is determined by phonological or morphological factors. The various contexts will be treated in turn.

[+] /r/ is preceded by a long vocalic sequence (a long vowel or a centring diphthong)

In case /r/ is preceded by a long vocalic sequence (a long vowel or a centring diphthong), its realization is optional. Compounds like fear#boat ferry(boat), bier#drinker beer drinker, blier#moedich cheerful, ear#gefoel (sense of) honour, flier#kleed carpet; rug, kleur#plaat colouring picture, and waar#glês barometer, therefore, can be realized with or without the final /r/ of their left-hand member. In flierkleed, kleurplaat, and waarberjocht weather report, for instance, deletion of /r/ is very common. These are well-known and frequently occurring words, which may well be a favouring factor.

[+] /r/ is preceded by a short vowel or a rising diphthong

In case /r/ is preceded by a short vowel or a rising diphthong, it is virtually always realized, as in bar#kruk bar stool, far#wetter water(s), waterway, fuor#man driver; wagoner, carrier, kar#brief rules (and regulations), par#sop pear juice, radar#bylden radar pictures, smar#woarst paté, spar#pot money box; savings, and war#taal gibberish, nonsense. As noted before, this can be ascribed to the Rhyme Constraint.

However, compounds with buorbuor#famke girl next door, buor#frou neighbour, woman next door, buor#jonge boy next door, buor#man neighbour, man next door, for instance − tend to be realized without [r]. Again, the fact that these are well-known and frequently occurring words may be a favouring factor, which overrules the Rhyme Constraint. Besides, they all belong to the same word field, which may enhance uniform (phonological) behaviour.

The compounds skuor#doar barn door and skuor#kalinder tear-off calendar, on the other hand, are not that common or frequently occurring nor do they belong to the same word field, but they tend to lose /r/ as well. It should be noted that all these left-hand parts share the rising diphthong /wo/, though this does not seem to provide any ground for an explanation.

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The verbs farre sail, navigate and smarre smear have a short /a/ in Standard Frisian, but dialectally they have a long /a:/. Compounds like far#wetter water(s), waterway and smar#woarst paté are therefore expected to be realized with [r] in case farre and smarre have a short vowel, but without it in the dialects where they have a long vowel.

[+] /r/ is preceded by schwa

If /r/ is preceded by schwa, it is likely to show up as a syllabic consonant, provided the conditions on syllabification are met (see syllabic sonorant consonants). This is the case in compounds like anker#tou anchor mooring rope, donder#stien rascal, finster#bank windowsill, spiker#broek (pair of) jeans, wetter#toer water tower, and winter#tiid wintertime, where the sequence schwa + sonorant consonant is preceded by a tautosyllabic plosive. Since a syllabic consonant cannot delete (see the phonological behaviour of syllabic sonorant consonants), /r/ is automatically retained here.

But also in case the phonological context is less favourable for syllabification or the conditions on the process are simply not met, /r/ does not delete. This means that the left-hand member of compounds like finger#taast fingermark, fiver#kant pond's edge, fjouwer#kant square, hammer#slach hammerblow, hjouwer#kerl oat grain, honger#lean starvation wages, izer#sterk (cast-)iron, klaver#blêd cloverleaf, and simmer#tiid summertime retain their final /r/. The realizations [*fɪŋəta:st] and [*i:zəstɛrk] of finger#taast and izer#sterk are just as ill-formed as [*aŋkəɡrun] and [*dondəsti.ən] of anker#grûn and donder#stien, though the latter pair of compounds have a favourable phonological context for syllabification and the former a less favourable one. This is all the more remarkable, since a schwa syllable is open in the unmarked case (see schwa).

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The word piper#nút ginger(bread) nut is realized as [pipənyt], so without [r]. In all likelihood, this has to do with the fact that it is no longer felt to be a compound − consisting of piper pepper and nút nut−, which has paved the way for the reduction at hand.

[+]The left-hand noun of the compound is augmented with -s

In many nominal compounds, the left-hand noun is extended with the linking phoneme /s/, which it does not have in isolation. This yields the sequence /rs/ in case the noun in question ends in /r/. When preceded by a long vocalic sequence, as in faars#goed patrimony, paternal inheritance, the realization of /r/ is optional. After a short vowel, as in mars#dyk bank of a lake and mars#igge shore of a lake, deletion yields an ill-formed outcome. Since /s/ is part of the left-hand noun, it ends up as tautosyllabic with the preceding /r/, so that its overall deletion is to be expected (see /r/-deletion in simplex words and /r/-deletion in complex words derived with a consonantal suffix). The actual pattern of deletion, however, is more in line with that found at the compound edge. This seems to be indicative of a difference between noun-final /s/ as an underlying and as a linking phoneme (that is, as part of a noun allomorph). Nouns ending in -er ( /-ər/) can also be extended with /s/, as in âlders#hûs family home, arbeiders#ko workman's cow (i.e. a goat), dokters#guod medicine, medications, fingers#einen fingertips, fiskers#laach family of fishermen, kappers#fak the hairdresser's trade, skippers#feint boathand, bargehand, and wetters#kant waterside, waterfront. Since schwa is preceded by and tautosyllabic with a plosive here, /r/ is expected to surface as syllabic, in which case it cannot delete. This expectation, however, is not borne out, for /r/ is never realized in this context.

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Compounds the left-hand part of which ends in the sequence of a centring diphthong + /rs/, like bestjoers#lid member of the Board, ferkears#boerd traffic sign, nijjiers#winsk New Year's greeting, and toers#klok (tower/church) bell, are realized without [r]. Since the right-most part of a centring diphthong is schwa, these cases and the ones above in the text show a uniform pattern.

[+]The left-hand member of the compound is an /r/-final particle

There are several cases, which are exemplified in (1):

Example 1

Examples of compounds with an /r/-final particle as left-hand member
a. With der /dər/
der#by with it, them
der#troch through it, them
b. With dêr /dɛ:r/
dêr#mei with that, those
dêr#tsjin against that, those
c. With efter /ɛftər/
efter#grûn background
efter#kant back
d. With foar /f{oə/wa}r/
foar#kant front
foar#namme first name
foar#simmer early summer
foar#teken omen
foar#wurk preliminary work
e. With hjir /jɪr/
hjir#by at this
hjir#foar in front of this; before this
f. With (h)okker /(h)okər/
(h)okker#deis recently, the other day
(h)okker#jiers last year, a few years ago
(h)okker#wyks last week, a few weeks ago
g. With oer /uər/
oer#beppe great-grandmother
oer#bosk primaeval forest
oer#foarm archetype
(net) oer#folle not too much, many
oer#gerdyn (heavy) curtain
oer#macht circumstances beyond one's control
oer#pake great-grandfather
oer#tiid prehistoric times
h. With ûnder /undər/
ûnder#dak accommodation; lodging
ûnder#guod underwear
ûnder#kant underside, bottom
ûnder#lekken bottom sheet
ûnder#skrift caption, legend
ûnder#wâl bottom of a dike
i. With wer /vɛr/
wer#berte rebirth
wer#ferkeap retail
j. With wêr /vɛ:r/
wêr#fan what ... from/of
wêr#mei what ... with/by
k. With wjer /vjɛr/
wjer#klang echo
wjer#ljocht lightning
wjer#pine sympathetic pain
wjer#sin disgust, reluctance, aversion
wjer#skyn reflection
wjer#slach repercussion
wjer#tij neap tide
wjer#wurd answer, reply

Particle-final /r/ deletes. The /r/ of the particles ending in the sequence /-ər/der /dər/, efter /ɛftər/, and ûnder /undər/ − may show up as syllabic, in which case it cannot delete (see the phonological behaviour of syllabic sonorant consonants). If /r/ cannot become syllabic, it deletes, thus joining the particle pattern. This obligatory /r/-deletion sets these compounds apart from those with a non-particle as left-hand member.

[+]The left-hand member of the compound ends in /r/ and the right-hand member is a consonant-initial full vowel suffix

As these suffixes have a full vowel, they can stand on their own; in fact, the sequences of phonemes they consist of also occur as independent words. The suffixes can be left out in conjunction reduction – as in inkel- en mearfâld singular and plural, doel- en effektleas aimless and effectless, and boarger- en dichterskip citizenship and poethood–, which is also indicative of their phonological independence. The derivations these suffixes are part of therefore have some compound-like properties. The suffixes are exemplified in (2):

Example 2

Examples of compounds the left-hand member of which ends in /r/ and the right- hand member is a consonant-initial full vowel suffix
a. With -dij /dɛj/
hofear#dij pride, haughtiness
keapfar#dij mercantile marine
wear#dij value
b. With -dom /dom/
âlder#dom (old) age
pryster#dom priesthood
c. With -fâld /fɔ:d/
fjouwer#fâld quadruple
mear#fâld plural
d. With -leas /lɪəz/
kleur#leas colourless
roer#leas motionless
spoar#leas without a trace
stjoer#leas out of control
waar#leas inattentive, heedless, careless
war#leas defenceless
e. With -nis /nɪs/
dear#nis pity
erger#nis annoyance
tsjuster#nis darkness
wylder#nis wilderness
f. With -skip /skɪp/
better#skip recovery (of health)
boarger#skip citizenship
buor#skip hamlet
dichter#skip poethood
foarsitter#skip chair(wo)manship
heechlearaar#skip professorship
hear#skip gent, fellow
keunstner#skip artistic calling
lieder#skip leadership
skriuwer#skip authorship
ûndernimmer#skip entrepreneurship
g. With -sma /sma/
nuver#sma strange character

The suffixes -dij, -dom, and -nis have become unproductive. This does not seem to have a fixed effect on the realization of /r/. The latter deletes preceding -dij and -dom, but preceding -nis it is retained.

The other suffixes, which are productive, show a coherent picture, for the deletion of /r/ or its preservation depends on phonological factors, viz. the length and quality of the vocalic sequence by which /r/ is preceded. On the one hand, /r/ may or may not delete following a long vowel or a centring diphthong and it is retained following a short vowel. On the other hand, when preceded by schwa, one of two things occurs: either /r/ becomes syllabic, in which case it cannot delete, or it does not, in which case it is deleted. There is no variability here, so the above words behave like full-fledged compounds in this respect.

With the exception of -fâld, these suffixes begin with a coronal consonant. This does not seem to affect /r/-deletion in any way, which is also in line with how /r/-deletion proceeds in full-fledged compounds.