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Combinations of an adverb and a noun show up in two types, as separable and as non-separable verbs. A compound is separable if in certain syntactic contexts the first constituent of the compound is not adjacent to the second one. An example is DELfalle down-fall to fall down. In a main clause this compound is separated: hy foel doe del he fell then down he fell down then, while it is not in a sub-clause: ... dat hy doe delfoel ... that he then down-fell that he fell down then. These separable combinations of an adverb and a verb behave in the same way as separable PV combinations, the difference being the lexical category of the first member.

The inseparable AdvV compounds consist of an adverb of manner and a verb. An example is domprate stupid-talk to talk nonsense (dom stupid + prate to talk). Most formations only occur in sentential te-infinitives. An example is Jan siet wer de hiele tiid te dompraten Jan was again talking nonsense all the time.

[+]Separable compound verbs

Separable compound verbs with an adverb as their first constituent are very common in Frisian, although the number is not as high as separable compound verbs with an adposition as first member. As with separable PV compounds, the stress is on the first constituent. In addition, the syntactic behaviour of separable AdvV compounds is the same; both categories are also subsumed under the same heading particle verbs. Separability manifests itself in main clauses, as in hy foel doe del he fell then down he fell down then and in infinitival constructions with om + te, as in ... om del te fallen CONJ down to fall ... to fall down.

The most common adverbs are listed in alphabetical order in the left-hand column below. The right-hand column shows instances of separable verbs. In these examples the stress is also indicated.

Table 1
first constituent (Adv) second constituent (V) compound (AdvV)
del down falle to fall delfalle to fall down
fuort away rinne to walk fuortrinne to walk away
gear together falle to fall gearfalle to coincide
hinne away gean to go hinnegean to go away
tebek back skrilje to be shocked tebekskrilje to recoil
thús at home komme to come thúskomme to come home
wei away bliuwe to keep weibliuwe to stay away
wer again jaan to give werjaan to display
werom back komme to come weromkomme to come back

At first sight the particles fuort and wei have the same meaning away. Dutch, for instance, has a single word for the concept, i.e. weg. Frisian makes a subtle distinction, however, in that fuort- is used when the action of the verb can be undone, and wei when this is not possible. Thus we have hy smiet de bal fuort he threw the ball away (one can throw it back) versus he smiet it klokhûs wei he threw the core away. Likewise de minsken rûnen fuort the people walked away (they can come back) versus it wetter rûn wei the water poured off.

In general, the Frisian adverbs wer again and werom back are distinguished clearly enough when used in particle verbs, wer- indicating a repetition and werom back a reversal of the action, for example in weromslaan to hit back. With a small group of verbs, however, they are pretty close. This is the case with verbs expressing a reversal of the action and where wer- may also be used. Examples are weromjaan/werjaan to give back, werombringe/werbringe to bring back and weromkomme/werkomme to come back. Significantly, Dutch uses the single the particle terug- in both cases.

There are also separable compound verbs with an adpositional compound as first constituent, for example in efterútbuorkje to go downhill. Some other examples are listed below, again with an indication of main stress in the compound verb.

Table 2
first constituent (compound Adv) second constituent (V) compound (AdvV)
efterút backwards (efter + út) buorkje to run a farm efterútbuorkje to go downhill
foarby past (foar + by) gean to go foarbygean to go past
foarút ahead (foar + út) sette to set foarútsette to place ahead
foarwei off (foar + wei) dwaan to do foarweidwaan to take off
efternei afterwards (efter + nei) sjen to watch efterneisjen to watch

[+]Inseparable compound verbs

Frisian also has some inseparable AdvV compounds, all being formed with an adverb of manner that modifies a verb. Examples are listed below:

Table 3
first constituent (Adv) second constituent (V) univerbation (AdvV)
dom stupid prate to talk domprate to talk nonsense
moai pretty prate to talk moaiprate to flatter
dreech difficult stinne to groan dreechstinne to make difficulties
hurd fast rinne to walk hurdrinne to run
swart black sjen to look swartsjen to be pessimistic
mâl silly beare to make a great deal of noise mâlbeare to make a fuss
mâl silly gûle to cry mâlgûle to shout unintelligibly
kâld cold gnize to smirk kâldgnize to smirk
fier far ljeppe to leap fierljeppe to pole vault
heech high springe to jump heechspringe to high jump
droech dry swimme to swim droechswimme to have a dry run
In these AdvV compounds the stress is also on the first constituent. The stress pattern helps to distinguish an AdvV compound from a syntactic collocation of an adverb and a verb. In such a configuration both the adverb and the verb receive sentence stress, while in an AdvV compound only the first constituent is stressed. Compare for example hy hat MOAI PRAAT he talked well and hy hat MOAIpraat he flattered. There is one case that the stress is not decisive, namely when the AdvV compound has been formed with the light verbdwaan to do. Examples are gekdwaan to play the fool, sleaudwaan to act lethargically and raardwaan to act unpleasantly. In a syntactic collocation containing an adverb and the verb dwaan to do, the stress is solely on the adverb, since the verb cannot be put in focus due to the lack of meaning. Compare for example moatst net sa RAAR dwaan you should not act so unpleasantly and moatst net sa RAARdwaan you should not act so unpleasantly.

Another difference with syntactic collocations is the fact that the adverb can be modified in the latter, as in hy hat hiel fier ljept he has very far jumped he jumped very far. The particle verb refuses modification, cf. *hy hat hielfierljept.

In contrast to most AdvV compounds, the verbs mâlbeare and mâlle have final stress. This also applies to the verb waarmite warm-eat to have dinner. This verb has probably been derived by back formation from the noun waarmiten hot meal, which has likewise stress on the second component.

Verbs with fol-

Verbs with the adverb fol full may also have stress on the second member, like folbringe full-bring to accomplish,, foldwaan full-do to satisfy and folstean full-stand to suffice. These verbs, as some others with fol-, are similar to inseparable PV combinations, for instance in their metaphoric semantics. They probably entered Frisian under Dutch influence. The same applies to a few participial forms with fol-, like folmakke full-made perfect, folslein full-hit complete and folwoeksen full-grown adult.

Similar to cases of noun incorporation, not all AdvV compounds easily occur in all verbal forms. Some of them are preferably found in incorporating te-infinitives, and in particular they are rare as finite verbs, as is illustrated in the example below:

a. Jan siet wer de hiele jûn te dompraten
Jan sat again the whole evening to stupid-talk
Jan was talking nonsense all evening
b. *?Jan domprate wer de hiele jûn
Jan stupid-talked again the whole evening
Jan was talking nonsense all evening

This ban on the position as finite verb is not absolute, however. There are AdvV compounds which have undergone lexicalization to such a degree that they behave like 'normal' verbs and can be put in any verbal position. Addition of the right contextual information can also help, as the following examples show:

a. Hy fierljept yn Westergeast
He pole vaults in Westergeast
He pole vaults in Westergeast
b. Hy hurdrint by de klup yn Akkrum
He fast.walks with the club in Akkrum
He runs in Akkrum as a member of the local club


This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:58-62). Hoekstra (1993) is an extensive study on the particles werom- and wer-.

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1993Omkearing en efterhelling: ta de partikels werom en werUs Wurk4285-102
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
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