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The prefix styp- derives nouns on the basis of kinship nouns. The derivation refers to relatives without a blood relationship. Examples are heit father > stypheit stepfather and dochter daughter > stypdochter stepdaughter. The prefix shows quite a bit of formal variation, caused by assimilation and reinterpretation.

[+]General properties

The prefix styp- takes kinship terms as input. Derivations with styp- refer to relatives with whom there is no blood relationship. It is used to refer to second parents, adopted children and children of one's partner. Examples of prefix derivations with styp- are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
heit father stypheit stepfather
mem mother stypmem stepmother
bern child(ren) stypbern stepchild
soan son stypsoan stepson
dochter daughter stypdochter stepdaughter
broer brother stypbroer stepbrother
suster sister stypsuster stepsister
Nowadays most Frisian speakers say styf- instead of styp-. This process is described below.

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Besides the form styp-, some other variants can be found: stie-, stiep-, styf-, stief- and stien-. The spelling <y> stands for short [i], <ie> represents a rising diphthong [jI].

The forms with final [p] are the oldest, cf. Old Frisian stiap. The final [f] is probably a product of regressive assimilation, arisen from stiepfaar stepfather > stieffaar. The form stie- is only found in the obsolete forms stiemoer stepmother and stiefaar stepfather.

In all likelihood, the inorganic [n] in the variant stien- can be explained by the following process. Because of total assimilation of the [p] in words like stiepbern stepchild > stiebern, language users could not recognize the connection with stiep- any longer. Therefore they might have correlated the distant kinship with a property of stien stone, i.e. its coldness.

Nowadays most Frisian speakers say styf- instead of styp-, probably under influence of Dutch stief-.

[+]Phonological properties

In derivations the stress is on the prefix, e.g. STYPmem stepmother.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:65). The formal variation is dealt with in Veen (1984-2011).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der et al1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal - Woordenboek der Friese taalFryske Akademy