West Frisian grammar

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The grammar of the West Frisian language, a West Germanic language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland (Fryslân) in the north of the Netherlands, features "common" and "neutral" genders and singular and plural numbers. Only the genitive case is marked on nouns. There are two conjugations of weak verbs, in addition to strong and irregular verbs.

Nouns[edit]

Gender[edit]

In West Frisian, nouns have two genders - the common gender (in which the former masculine and feminine gender merged) and the neuter gender. In the modern language, nouns have no morphological modifiers of their gender and it is only exposed when a noun is preceded by an article or another modifier: de taal (the language) ~ it lân (the land).

Number[edit]

West Frisian nouns have two numbers - singular and plural. There are two major suffixes used to form the plural: "-(e)n" and "-s". The suffix "-s" is appended to plural nouns that end (in the singular) with "-el", "-em", "-en", "-er", "-ert", "-ier", "-mer", "-ter", "-ster", "-sje". It can also appear after the diminutive suffixes "-je" and "-ke" or at the end of a borrowed word.

wurd - wurden, boarne - boarnen, doar - doarren, see - seeën

hoekje - hoekjes, skrapke - skrapkes, provinsje - provinsjes

A few nouns have irregular plural forms:

bern (child) - bern, skiep (sheep) - skiep, ko (cow) - kij, skoech (shoe) - skuon, beest (beast) - bisten, dei (day) - dagen, wei (way) - wegen, lid (member) - leden, reed (skate) - redens, lears (boot) - learzen, âlder (parent, elder) - âlden, man (man) - mânlju, frou (woman) - froulju.

Case[edit]

The initial system of four grammatical cases (nominative, genitive, dative and accusative) has not survived in modern Frisian. The only remainder of the old declension system is the genitive case which may still be used in written Frisian. It is mostly used nowadays as a possessive form (rather than true genitive).

The genitive form may have one of the following two endings: "-(e)" or "-(e)s".

The ending "-(e)" ("-e" or zero) is used with monosyllabic nouns ending with a consonant or the vowel "-e". Also, it may be used with kinship terms and some plural nouns (mostly in idiomatic, fixed expressions): Ruerde mêm (Ruerd's mom), memme mûs (mom's mouse), fammene pronkjen (the girls' talk).

In most other cases, the "-(e)s" ending is used: har mans bern (her man's child(ren)), Fryslâns wâlden (Frisland's forests).

In the spoken language, genitive forms are rare and normally replaced by analytical constructions with the preposition "fan (of)" or a possessive pronoun: de heit fan Anneke (Anneke's father), Anneke har heit (-//-, lit. Anneke her father).

Verbs[edit]

In West Frisian, there are 3 groups of verbs: weak, strong and irregular verbs. There are two types of weak verbs and each is conjugated in a different way. These are -e and -je verbs.

Weak -e verbs[edit]

-e infinitive: pakk1e -n infinitive: pakken
Present tense Past tense
person singular plural singular plural
1st ik pak wy pakk1e ik pakt2e wy pakt2en
2nd do/dû pakst jimme do/dû pakt2est jimme
3rd hy/sy/it pakt hja hy/sy/it pakt2e hja
Present participle Imperative Auxiliary Past participle
pakk1ende pak hawwe pakt2

1 If necessary a consonant at the end of the stem is doubled to avoid a change of the pronunciation of the preceding syllable.
2 An unvoiced consonant at the end of the stem takes an unvoiced dental suffix; a voiced consonant takes a voiced dental.

Weak -je verbs[edit]

-e infinitive: wurkje -n infinitive: wurkjen
Present tense Past tense
person singular plural singular plural
1st ik wurkje wy wurkje ik wurke wy wurken
2nd do/dû wurkest jimme do/dû wurkest jimme
3rd hy/sy/it wurket hja hy/sy/it wurke hja
Present participle Imperative Auxiliary Past participle
wurkjende wurkje hawwe wurke

The Auxiliaries[edit]

-e infinitive: hawwe -n infinitive: hawwen
Present tense Past tense
person singular plural singular plural
1st ik ha wy hawwe ik hie wy hiene(n)
2nd do/dû hast jimme do/dû hiest jimme
3rd hy/sy/it hat hja hy/sy/it hie hja

References[edit]

  • Popkema, J. 2006. Grammatica Fries. De regels van het Fries. Utrecht: Het Spectrum.
  • Munske, Horst Haider. 2001. Handbuch des Friesischen (Handbook of Frisian studies). Tübingen: Niemeyer. xiv+845pp.
  • Tiersma, Pieter Meijes. 1999. Frisian Reference Grammar. Fryske Akademy. 162pp.
  • Hoekstra, Jarich Freark. 1997. The syntax of infinitives in Frisian. Leeuwarden: Fryske Akademy. v+169pp. (zugl.: Groningen, Univ., Diss., 1997).
  • Tiersma, P.M. 1985. Frisian Reference Grammar. Dordrecht: Foris Publications. xii+157pp.
  • de Boer, B. 1950. Studie over het Dialect van Hindeloopen. Assen: Van Gorcum. 196pp.
  • Sipma, Pieter. 1913. Phonology & grammar of modern West Frisian; with phonetic texts and glossary. Oxford University Press. 194pp.