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The suffix -wei productively derives adverbs from adverbs or adverbially used adjectives. The suffix, originating from the noun wei way, denotes a manner meaning, a way in which an activity or event is done or happens. Examples are: dom stupid > domwei stupidly, simply, koart short > koartwei in brief, rûch rough > rûchwei roughly, fier far > fierwei by far.

[+]General properties

-wei attaches mainly to adverbs and adjectives, or, for that matter, adverbially used adjectives. Examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
bedaard composed bedaardwei composedly
stil quiet stilwei quietly
gol cordial golwei cordially
sljucht common sljuchtwei simply
dryst reckless drystwei frankly
droech dry droechwei dryly
sleau careless sleauwei carelessly
glêd slippery glêdwei completely
blyn blind blynwei blindly
bretaal cheeky bretaalwei cheekily
stadich slow stadichwei slowly
flot fluent flotwei fluently
Included as potential bases are present participles, which can be used as adjectives and adverbs in principle. An example is geande going > geandewei gradually. The suffix -wei can also be attached to some adverbs which occur in diminutive form, as in stiltsjes quietly > stiltsjeswei quietly and losjes loosely > losjesei loosely.

[+]Semantic properties

The suffix -wei seems to be used to mark adverbiality, and more especially to mark and strengthen the manner of acting. The problem is that usually the base word can also occur as a manner adverb. In comparison, then, the use of -wei gives the impression that the manner of the action is more outspoken. For example, according to Hoekstra (1998:162), linichwei below stresses that the action was agile during the whole act of climbing:

Example 1

a. De kat klattere linich yn 'e beam
the cat climbed limberly in the tree
The cat climbed into the tree limberly
b. De kat klattere linichwei yn 'e beam
the cat climbed limberly-SUFF in the tree
The cat climbed into the three limberly

Presumably, this stressing of the full time of the action is a by-effect. Note that the a word like linich in (1a) is a predicative adjunct: it can predicate both over the verb and over the subject. Now, the latter possibility seems to be excluded after the addition of -wei. Then linichwei is only an adjunct for the verb klatterje. This will be the reason that derivations with -wei seem to focus on (the manner of) the action.

The aspect of stretching over the full time of the action as mentioned by Hoekstra is very clear in derivations with a present participle as base: pratende talking > pratendewei while talking, boartsjende playing > boartsjendewei while playing, rinnende walking > rinnendewei while walking and itende eating > itendewei while eating. Significantly, Dutch uses a parallel construction with the present participle plus the word al, which can be connected to the universal quantifier al all. Dutch examples are al pratende while talking, al spelende while playing or al lopende while walking.

The same effect is found in derivations from adverbs denoting a time span: stadich slow/slowly > stadichwei slowly, geregeld regular/regularly > geregeldwei regularly, jimmer constant/constantly > jimmerwei constantly, súntsjes soft/softly > súntsjeswei softly, linken gradual/gradually > linkenwei gradually and tydlings gradual/gradually > tydlingswei gradually. (Compare also the use of the particle wei after adverbial wordgroups denoting a time-span, as in ûnder it riden wei while driving or oan ien tried wei at a stretch.

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-wei, -wize and -oan

The suffix -erwize also marks a manner of action. In Frisian, this suffix is the less frequent one, where in Dutch the oppositie proportions obtain. See also Boersma (2007).

The suffix -wei furthermore has a competitor in the suffix -oan.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix corresponds to the noun wei way, but it has developed into a bound morpheme with a specific meaning when used as part of an adverb. Hence it is to be considered a suffix from a synchronic point of view. Its history is reflected in the fact that it forms a prosodic word of its own. It usually carries secondary stress, as in DOMwei. However, speakers may differ in their stress preferences for derivations of -wei, especially those with polysyllabic bases.

[+]Morphological potential

Suffixation with -wei is productive in Frisian. Actually, it is more productive than the comparative Dutch suffix -weg. Adverbs with -wei do not appear as input to further derivations. An exception to this rule is a derivation with the suffix -hinne. This suffix has a function comparable to -wei, and can be added to the derivation with -wei in goed(wei)hinne simple of mind and sljocht(wei)hinne ordinary.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1988), Hoekstra (1998:162-163). See also Boersma (2007), who provides a comparison with the suffix -erwize and with Dutch -weg.

  • Boersma, Gertrud D2007Bywurden mei de efterheaksels -wei en -wiis/wize yn it Frysk en -weg en -wijs/-wijze yn it NederlânskRijksuniversiteit GroningenThesis
  • Boersma, Gertrud D2007Bywurden mei de efterheaksels -wei en -wiis/wize yn it Frysk en -weg en -wijs/-wijze yn it NederlânskRijksuniversiteit GroningenThesis
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1988KoekeprûmkjendeweiFriesch Dagblad21-05Taalsnipels 75
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy