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N > V

Conversion of nouns to verbs is very productive in Frisian. An example is bondel bundle > bondelje to bundle. Almost all imaginable meaning relations between the base noun and the derived verb may be found. Most input nouns are simplex, but this is not necessarily so. An example of a complex base is kloat-sek [[ball](N)[bag](N)](N) scrotum; bastard, from which can be derived the verb kloatsekje to trudge. With a few phonologically based exceptions, all converted verbs belong to weak class II.


Conversion of N to V is productive, at least for simplex nouns. The semantic relations between the base noun and the derived verb can be quite diverse. Broadly speaking, the semantics of this type of conversion can best be described as 'to V, with N playing a role in the action denoted by V'. Examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Base Noun Converted Verb
hûs house húzje to live
kompjûter computer kompjûterje to work with a computer
baarch piglet bargje to make a mess
jong young one jongje give birth
kroade (wheel)barrow kroadzje to wheel a wheelbarrow
seage saw seagje to saw
hoep hoop hoepje to play with a hoop
keal calf kealje to calve
jûn evening jûnje to become dark
bêd bed bêdzje to offer a sleeping place
flibe slaver flybje to slaver
skroar tailor skroarje to be a tailor
tsjerke church tsjerkje to go to church
mich fly migje to catch flies
kloet punting pole kloetsje to pole
sou sieve souje to sieve
besite visit besytsje to visit
each eye eagje to see
diggel pottery diggelje to fall to pieces
leppel spoon leppelje to spoon (up)
hamster hamster hamsterje to hoard (up)
tennis tennis tennisje to play tennis
Most of the converted nouns are simplex, but compound nouns also occur, such as fuotbal football > fuotbalje to play football, sniebal snowball > sniebalje to throw snowballs, kloatsek bastard > kloatsekje to trudge and húsman (litt.:) house man > húsmanje to run the house.

As can be observed above, nouns convert to weak verbs that belong to class II, i.e. verbs taking an infinitive ending in -je. Exceptions are those nominal stems ending in [i] or the related glide [j] that occurs as the final element of some diphthongs. So, the noun sky ski converts to the verb skye to ski, which has the paradigm of class I, for example in hja skide she skied. A verb like raaie (from the noun raai, a certain dance) is similar in its behaviour.

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Dutch influence

Class I derivations after other final segments can be found in actual language use. As it typically appears that these verbs show a striking similarity with the corresponding Dutch conversion verbs, it may safely be assumed that these class I verbs are direct loans from Dutch. Examples are lakke to varnish (from lak varnish, cf. Dutch lakken), reve to reef (from reef reef, cf. Dutch reven) or rouwe to mourn (from rouw mourning, cf. Dutch rouwen). Moreover, these verbs also have Frisian variants regularly following the paradigm of class II: lakje, reevje and rouje.

[+]Linking elements or suffixes

Hoekstra (1998:153-154) argues that the nominal base that is to be converted may be extended by 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 nouns are -k (and its allomorph -tsje), -ig, and also -ear, the latter taking non-native bases.

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

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