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Fractions are numerical constructions like 3/4 or 5/8, indicating the quotient of two numbers, or decimal fractions like 3.25. Frisian simple fractions are formations consisting of a definite cardinal and a definite ordinal, such as trije fjirde three fourth three quarters. There are special forms for heal half half and in kwart a quarter a quarter (but also in fjirde a fourth a quarter). Complex fractions are formations of a cardinal, an optional coordinating en and, and a simple fraction: trije-en-fiif-achtste three and five eighth 3 5/8, twa en in heal two and a half 2 and 1/2A special system exists for the combination with halves, like oardel/oardeheal one and a half 1 and 1/2. Decimal fractions such as trije komma twa trije fjouwer three point two three four 3,234 have their own grammar. This topic consists of the following sections:

[+]Simple fractions

Simple fractions are built from one cardinal and one ordinal by means of a process that looks like compounding. The semantics is multiplicative: ien sânde one seventh 1/7, twa sechsde two sixth 2/6. In fractions, only one word order is possible, viz., cardinal before ordinal: ien sânde one seventh 1/7 is fine, *sânde ien seventh one 7/1 is ungrammatical as a fraction. There are special forms for the smallest numbers 1/2, i.e. heal half, and 1/4, i.e. kwart quarter; the regular form in fjirde a quarter for the latter is also possible. Besides this, Frisian has the form in fearn a quarter, which is used in for example in fearn(tsje) appel a quarter of an apple and fearnsjier trimester. Syntactically, fractions only combine with a single noun:

Example 1

a. Twa fjirde part
two fourth part
Two fourth part
b. *Twa fjirde parten
two fourth part.PL
Two fourth part

Fractions thus have a construction-specific semantics: the ordinals have a different meaning when used to build fractions than when they are used as 'real' ordinals.

[+]Complex fractions

Complex fractions are built from a cardinal, an optional en, and a simple fraction. For example: twa twa sechsde two two sixth two and two-sixth, or twa en twa sechsde two and two sixth two and two-sixth.

The fraction phrase en in heal and a half also follows a cardinal with the higher value, as in fiif en in heal five and a half five and a half. However, halves also occur in another system. The form -heal, or its reduced variant -el [əl], can then be combined with ordinals, instead of cardinals. This system further differs from the one with en in heal, in that -heal / -el is used as a suffix, and the phrase en in is lacking. Besides that, the semantics is different, in that fiif en in heal five and a half means five plus a half, but fyfdeheal four and a half means five minus a half. Hence, the semantics is subtractive, although the expression literally means the fifth half (whereby it is left implicit that the first four should taken as full). Other examples are:

Example 2

two and a half
three and a half

Thus the time indication treddel oere means thirdhalf hour two and a half hour. Forms of an ordinal + -heal are not very frequent in use anymore. And when they are used, they only occur with the smallest numbers. There is only one form that is still fully current, as it is completely lexicalized: oardel/oardeheal otherhalf one and a half, where oar other is an alternative for two, and -de is de common ordinal suffix. Oardel one and a half is the more common form, and is pronounced as /oarəl/ or /oadəl/.

See for more examples with -heal: Hoekstra (1989).

[+]Decimal fractions

Decimal fractions have their own grammar, derived from spelling pronunciation, allowing for some variation:

Example 3

twa komma sân
two comma seven
two point seven (= 2.7)
fjouwerentritich komma hûndertienentachtich
four.and.thirty comma hundred.one.and.eighty
thirty-four point onehundred and eighty-one (= 34.181)
fjouwerentritich komma ien acht ien
four.and.thirty comma one eight one
thirty-four point onehundred and eighty-one (= 34.181)

An idiom built on this construction schema is nul komma nul zero comma zero zero, nothing.

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1989GrypstehealstoerFriesch Dagblad22-07Taalsnipels 115