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A > V

Conversion of adjectives to verbs is very productive in Frisian. An example is wyt white > wytsje to whiten. In principle, three different meaning classes can be distinguished: ''to make {adjective}, 'to become {adjective}' and 'to be {adjective}'. In practice, however, one of these readings is dominant. As with other verbal conversions, the resulting verbs belong to class II of the weak verbs.


Conversion of A to V is fairly productive. Three different meaning classes can be distinguished: 'to make {adjective}', 'to become {adjective}' or 'to be {adjective}'. At first sight, all verbs converted from an adjective can have these three meanings. Compare the following sentences with the verb grienje, from the adjective grien green:

Example 1

a. to make {adjective}
De ferve griene it wetter
The paint made the water green
b. to become {adjective}
De beammen grienje al wer
The trees become green again
c. to be {adjective}
Wat in gers, it grienet deroer
What a lot of grass, it is so green outside

However, in most cases one of the meanings is lexicalized, cf. deadzje to murder (= to make one dead), rypje to ripen (= to become ripe), slûgje to slumber (= to be sleepy). More examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Meaning Base Adjective Resulting Verb
to make A suver pure suverje to purify
iepenbier public iepenbierje to reveal
waarm warm waarmje to warm
fol full folje to fill (up)
dea dead deadzje to murder
sêd satisfied sêdzje to satisfy
wiid wide wiidzje to widen
koel cool kuolje to cool down
lotter pure lotterje to purify
iepen open iepenje to open
to become A rot rotten rotsje to rot
soer sour suorje to turn sour
grien green grienje to become green
ryp ripe rypje to ripen
to be A slûch tired slûgje to slumber
sunich stingy sunigje to be stingy

The stem vowel of some verbs may undergo breaking, as already can be detected from the spelling of koel cool > kuolje and soer sour > suorje.

In a few cases, the base adjective must be interpreted adverbially, according to the meaning of the derived verb . The best way to describe this meaning is 'to do {adjective}'. Examples are healwiis foolish > healwiizje to act foolishly, wyld wild > wyldzje to be on the go and gek crazy > gekje to act crazy.

As can be observed above, adjectives convert to weak verbs that belong to class II, i.e. verbs that take an infinitive ending in -je. Exceptions are nominal stems ending in the glide [j] that occurs as the final element of some diphthongs. A relevant example is rampoaie to destroy (from the adjective rampoai broken down).

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Linking elements or suffixes

Hoekstra (1998:153-154) argues that the adjectival base that is to be converted may be extended with a linking element. However, we have decided here to treat these elements as suffixes, as they consist of overt linguistic material. Moreover, subsuming such derivations under the heading of conversion would go against the spirit of the idea of conversion as it is usually understood, i.e. derivation without adding extra material. The relevant suffixes (or "augments", as Hoekstra calls them) for the derivation of verbs on the basis of adjectives are -ear, -ig and -k.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:152).

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