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1.3 Minor patterns of word formation

Complex words are not always compounds ([1.1]) or derivations ([1.2]). There are some other types of word formation.

[+]Construction Dependent Morphology

The distinction between word formation and inflection is not always as clear-cut as it seems. This becomes clear in the case of Construction Dependent Morphology (CDM) occurs (see [1.3]). In wät Flugges (‘something beautiful’) and wät Beteres (‘something better’), the adjectival forms have developed diachronically from inflected forms (with genitive case). People wouldn’t expect to find such forms like Flugges as separate lemmas in a dictionary, just like they wouldn’t expect to find inflected form like flugge or fluggen as such. Nevertheless, Flugges is not part of the adjectival paradigm. So, Construction Dependent Morphology is classified as a subcase of Word Formation.

Many speakers say wät Flugget instead of wät Flugges, by the way. This is caused by a complex form of interference. In Low German, the neuter ending -et corresponds with high German -es, e.g. ’n grotet Schip ‘a large ship’. The construction dependent –(e)s ending is in use too: wat Moi(e)s.

Some speakers of Low German confuse this construction dependent ending with the neuter inflectional ending, leading to wat Moiet. Speakers of Saterland Frisian often use the neuter ending -et instead of zero, so: ’n grotet Skip instead of ’n groot Skip, and they are prone to the same confusion: wät Flugget instead of wät Flugges.

Another example of construction dependent morphology is: mäd uus beeën, träien, sogen.

The additional -s in fuuls only appears in the construction fuuls tou groot, swier etc. ‘far too large, heavy, etc.’. Another example is fon (...)-swain, e.g. fon Gjuchtswain ‘by operation of law’.

In all these example, some obsolete form of inflection (often case inflection) has been reinterpreted.

The expression mins (dins, sins) Wai ‘my (your, his) own way’ is construction dependent as well.

It is questionable, however, whether all instances of obsolete inflections should be considered construction dependent. The expression in fuller Petalje means ‘ablaze’. The expression tou Gaasteweze means ‘to be a person’s guest’. These expressions are much more lexicalised and much less grammatical than (for instance) wät Flugges.


The noun Bääsje ‘grandmother’ is a shortening of Bäästemäme combined with the diminutive suffix -je (cf. [1.2.8] diminutives).

The noun Köäntje is a shortening of Köäntjedai (‘Twelfth Night’). The element Köäntje is, by the way, a truncated diminutive form of High and Low German König ‘king’.

The noun Hoochstam ‘tall tree’ is a shortening of the phrase-based compoud Hoochstamboom.

The adjective lood ‘perpendicular’ is probably not a conversion from the mass noun Lood ‘lead’, but rather a shortening of the originally elative compound loadgjucht ‘perpendicular’.


Univerbation arises when two or more syntactically coherent words evolve into one word. For example, the pronoun älk-un-een ‘everybody’ has developed from the phrase älk un een ‘each and one’.

Table 1
noun Dulle Huunde (‘ilex’), Duzendtakken (‘centaury’), die Foaremiddai (‘early afternoon’)
pronoun älkuneen (‘everybody’), uzeraan (‘one of us; someone like us’), wieljude (‘people like us’)
adjective bäästgoud (‘very good’), biederhand (‘obtainable, LG’), leetriep (‘late ripening’)
verb ferljoofnieme (‘accept, tolerate’, cf. dutch voor lief nemen)
adverb aalmantou (‘continually’), ätterdäm (‘afterwards’, HG), bielietjen (‘gradually’), juustgliek (‘all the same to me’), ineenstruch (‘in one go’), kop-unner (‘[get a] ducking’), mäddertied (‘in time, after a while’)
numeral fiefteholich (‘four and a half’), fieuw fjodendeel (‘one and a quarter’)
[+]Problematic and missing words

This survey of Saterland Frisian word formation is not complete.

We have not included humoristic words like Barbuts ‘barber’ (cf. German Barbier).

Advers are underrepresented (e.g. the affixes -s and -wai).

Many children’s words are missing as well, e.g. Biebie ‘stiff hat’, Doanjes ‘potatoes’, haidie ‘gone, away’, mantie ‘quick!’.

Many nouns are lexicalised phrases, e.g.: Gräite-Pis-in-t-Ho (‘saint-Margaret’s day, July 20’), uum-un-oane (‘on [clothing]’), Piel-un-Boge ‘bow and arrow’.

Some words have a particular history, e.g. Pakjanhoagel ‘mob’. This is a shortening of Pak un Janhoagelor ooldmoakernäi ‘renovated’, which looks suspiciously similar to Westerlauwers Frisian âldmakkenij ‘quasi-old’, literally ‘old-made new’.

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