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Other English examples[edit]

But it should be noted that some words in -le are not frequentatives: as an example, scribble is from Latin scribillare which is a diminutive (of scribare), not a frequentative. --FOo (talk) 20:09, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

i hafta say, this article is funny without even trying. good work. "to shake, such that a single, sudden shaking is repeated" bwaHAHAHA :D Heyzeuss (talk) 10:31, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Frequentative vs iterative[edit]

Frequentative is apparently a lexical aspect (describing verbs derived from other verbs, with a different nuance of meaning), but the example of Lithuanian doesn't seem to be that, but rather a class of verb forms. Is this correct? And why was it placed in this article? — Eru·tuon 23:26, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Afrikaans (Malaisian/Indonesian)[edit]

How about Afrikaans? For example "Hy klop klop" is being said for "He knocked again and again" or "He knocked many times". Allegedly this grammatical structure originates from Malaisian immigrants (See also Indonesian: rang = man, rang rang = men/people). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Drylexx (talkcontribs) 22:26, 8 March 2019 (UTC)


In Lithuanian language exist not only 'dirb-dav-ome' (we used to work, and means not only repeated action (many times!) in the past, but and prolonged action which was or was not repeated many times...and to emphasise this (that we and repeated this long action many times) we repeat twice this form using 'and' - 'dirbdavome ir dirbdavome' meaning 'we used to work long works (prolongative), with short breaks (frequentative) and work many times (iterative)'), but and 'dirb-ine-dav-ome' which is the derivation from 'dirb-ine-jome' (like in Finish - to work around; or to work smth but not a real work; or to work anything to spend your time; or to work smth insignificant; or to work very often, short works, and with short breaks). (talk) 04:17, 4 December 2010 (UTC)

What's geminate about -er in English frequentatives?[edit]

The article says,

English has -le and geminate-er as suffixes.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I understand geminate to refer to the prolongation of consonants, as in, e.g., Italian vello [vɛl.lo], fleece, vs. velo [ve.lo], veil. I don't see how that has anything to do with English frequentatives in -er.

As far as I can detect, the corresponding consonants in toddle and totter (both freq. of tot), in dialects that pronounce terminal /r/, have pretty much the same length. Same for jiggle and jigger (both freq. of jig). The distinction in consonant-voicing between toddle and totter (now lost in most American English dialects) could conceivably relate to the l/r distinction and perhaps a vanished gemination coupled with the unvoiced consonant in totter; but since we don't see jiggle and *jikker, and in the absence of further evidence, I doubt it.

Isn't it far more likely that we have frequentatives in both [l̩] and [ər] simply because of the fluidity with which those sounds tend to replace each other? That's what gave us purple from O.E. purpure, marble from French marbre, [̩] from colonel, and so forth. It's still a productive tendency in some American dialects, though, as usual, I can't think of an example when I want one.

Incidentally, what's that phenomenon called? I've spent over an hour trying to find it on Wikipedia without success.

Jdcrutch (talk) 21:13, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

In this case, referring to gemination in toddle and totter means that the letters dd and tt are spelled double, not prolonged in pronunciation. This is true of Modern English at least; in Old and maybe Middle English, consonants spelled double were pronounced long as well.
The -le and -er frequentative suffixes are probably not alternative forms of the same suffix. According to the entries in the Oxford English Dictionary, each of the suffixes is found in other Germanic languages and comes from a separate Proto-Germanic form (*-ilôjan, *-rôjan). — Eru·tuon 23:58, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the response. It doesn't seem correct to me, however, to refer to the orthographic doubling of consonants as gemination where the doubling doesn't reflect a difference in the pronunciation of those consonants. In "totter" and "toddle", for example, the double consonants signal what we usually call short vowels in speech (even though in most dialects their duration is the same): todder [tɑ.dəɹ] not toder [to.dəɹ]; and not any phonological difference from single consonants. Compare, e.g.
patter pater
fibber fiber
tinny tiny
This is purely an orthographic convention that has nothing to do with the pronunciation of the consonants.
In any event, the article refers to only the -er suffix as geminate. If it's geminate, then so is -le; but I don't think either one is. I think it's an error that should be corrected by a qualified person.
As for the question of l/r substitution, isn't it just as likely that the presumed Proto-Germanic forms, *-ilôjan, *-rôjan, are just early examples of the same phenomenon I cited? Does the OED ascribe phonemic value to the l/r distinction there? My hunch is that, even that far back, the distinction reflects regional phonological variation, not a difference in meaning.
In modern English, of course, there is a slight distinction in meaning between toddle and totter, and a slightly bigger one between jiggle and jigger, but I take those to be back-formations (if I'm using that term correctly) that developed after competing dialectal variants were introduced into the speech of one locale, perhaps London, that had attracted migrants from various dialect-areas.
Jdcrutch (talk) 21:57, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
Well, I suppose I should've explained what the lr alternation in the examples you gave was. It's dissimilation, where an r changes to an l (or the other way around) to prevent there from being two rs in a row. But dissimilation only occurs where there are two rs or ls in the same word. Dissimilation would therefore not apply to most frequentative forms, since only a few have rs or ls in the stem to which the frequentative ending is added. I can't think of any other cases and causes of lr alternation, so I don't know any reason to suppose lr alternation occurred in frequentative suffixes. The OED doesn't seem to indicate that the Proto-Germanic suffixes were alternants either.
"Geminate" is the wrong term to use if "gemination" only refers to pronunciation, but if it's used in the wider sense of "doubling", then it can refer to either pronunciation or writing. Probably it's better not to use it except in the phonetic sense, though, so as not to needlessly confuse readers. But you're right about doubling being used in both the -er and -le formations, which should be noted in the article. — Eru·tuon 23:47, 10 December 2011 (UTC)


In Latin, frequentative verbs show repeated or intense action. They are formed from the supine stem with -tāre/-sāre, -itāre, -titāre/-sitāre added.

Most of the examples appear to be the supine stem (which typically ends with t or s) + āre, rather than +tāre; I'd expect –t+tāre to result in –sāre (or does that only happen to d+t and not t+t?). —Tamfang (talk) 19:20, 9 September 2015 (UTC)


Hi, adding a chinese section would improve the article. Thanks in advance. Backinstadiums (talk) 19:54, 23 January 2017 (UTC)