• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents

The prefix âld-, grammaticalized from the adjective âld old, derives nouns on the basis of other nouns. We should distinguish two different prefixes. The most important one denotes persons who formerly had the profession, the position or the dignity named by the base. The prefix âld- expresses a natural transition, in contrast to the prefix eks-, which shares the basic meaning of âld- but refers to a more traumatic change. An example is âld-plysje for a policeman that has retired. The stress in the derivation is on the base, with quite some prominence on the prefix, however. The spelling is always with a hyphen.

The prefix âld- is also used with a different semantics in the kinship terms âldomke great-uncle and âldmuoike great-aunt. These words refer to an uncle or an aunt of one's father or mother. Here the stress is on the prefix, and there is no hyphenation in the orthography.

[+]Temporal meaning

The prefix âld- is a result of grammaticalization of the adjective âld old, and can therefore be qualified as a prefixoid. One of its functions is to denote persons who once had the profession, the position or the dignity named by the base word. Hence, the semantics is predicative: an âld-boargemaster is not a mayor who is elderly, but someone who is not a mayor any longer. This is reflected in the orthography by a hyphen between the prefix and the nominal base, in order to distinguish between the meaning dealt with in kinship terms below and AN-compounds in which âld- has kept its original meaning. For the latter, compare âldboer old farmer with âld-boer former farmer. An âldboer is an old farmer who is still farming, while an âld-boer is a person who is not farming anymore.

Examples of derivations with âld- are listed below:

Table 1
Base Derivation
boer farmer âld-boer former farmer'
plysje police officer âld-plysje former police officer
matroas sailor âld-matroas former sailor
wurknimmer employee âld-wurknimmer former employee
buorlju neighbours âld-buorlju former neighbours
learling apprentice âld-learling former apprentice
kampioen champion âld-kampioen former champion
boargemaster mayor âld-boargemaster former mayor
foarsitter chairman âld-foarsitter former chairman

The prefix âld- is comparable with eks- to a high extent. The main semantic difference is that âld- expresses a natural transition, while eks- is used for a more traumatic change, for instance in case of divorce or dismissal.

[+]Kinship terms

The prefix âld- may also form kinship terms. In this use, the prefix is highly unproductive; only the derivations âldomke great-uncle and âldmuoike great-aunt are relevant. These words refer to an uncle or an aunt of one's father or mother. As can be seen, no hyphen is used in the orthography.

[+]Phonological properties

The two different meanings of âld- are not only reflected in the spelling, but also in the stress pattern, although the pronunciation [ɔ:t] itself is the same. In nominal prefixation the stress is usually on the prefix. We see this pattern in the kinship terms, for example ALDomke great-uncle. However, if the prefix has the interpretation 'former', the main stress is on the nominal base, however, also with a strong prominence on the prefix. We see the same stress pattern in other cases of prefixation with a predicative semantics, like eks- and net-. An example with âld- is âld-BOER former farmer. In this respect, compare the difference in stress from âldBOER the old farmer on the farm, an AN compound in which the prominence on the first member is lacking. Next to these there is also ALDboer old farmer, the opposite of a young farmer, which has contrastive stress as it is opposed to nijboer new-farmer.

[hide extra information]

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:66-67) as far as the meaning 'former' is concerned. The source for the kinship terms is Hoekstra (1998:64).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy