• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
te-
quickinfo

The prefix te- derives verbs on the basis of other verbs. Verb derivations with te- indicate that the action denoted by the base form has a devastating and irreparable consequence for its object. An example is biteto bite > tebiteto destroy by biting. The prefix is mainly accepted by verbs bearing a destructive meaning in themselves. As a result, the addition of te- mainly serves an intensifying purpose. Its use is comparable to the use of the prefix fer-, which is far more productive than te-. The use of te-derivations is mainly restricted to the written language.

readmore
[+] General properties

The prefix te- derives verbs from other verbs. Verb derivations with te- indicate that the action denoted by the base form has a devastating and irreparable consequence for its object. The prefix is mainly accepted by verbs bearing a destructive meaning in themselves. As a result, the addition of te- mainly serves an intensifying purpose. The prefix stresses the damaging effect on the object and is often used to indicate that the object actually becomes worthless. Examples of derivations with te- are listed below:


Table 1
Base form Derivation
brekketo break tebrekketo destroy by breaking
barsteto burst tebarsteto destroy by bursting
slopeto demolish teslopeto destroy by demolishing
gnauweto gnaw tegnauweto destroy by gnawing
raffeljeto unravel teraffeljeto destroy by unravelling
biteto bite tebiteto destroy by biting
traapjeto step tetraapjeto destroy by stepping
fykjeto cut out tefykjeto destroy by cutting

The prefix te- can also be added to verbs which do not have a meaning of destruction in themselves. The implication of destruction is then added by te-. An example is reineto rain > tereineto destroy by raining. More examples are listed below:


Table 2
Base form Derivation
griemeto spill tegriemeto destroy
bringeto bring tebringeto waste (obsolete)
driuweto drive tedriuweto destroy by driving (obsolete)
waaieto be windy tewaaieto destroy by the wind
skriemeto cry teskriemeto spoil by crying

In some cases the derivation changes the valency of the base form. This is shown in the examples below:

Example 1

a. It reint
it rains
It is raining
b. De blommen wienen tereind
the flowers were PREF-rained
The flowers were destroyed by rain
Example 2

a. De knyn haffele op 'e woartel
the rabbit gnawed on the carrot
The rabbit gnawed the carrot
b. De knyn tehaffele de woartel
the rabbit PREF-gnawed the carrot
The rabbit bit the carrot to pieces

It is also possible, although not quite common, to construe te- derivations from reflexive verbs. The derivation then denotes that the action named in the base form has a negative consequence for the subject of the verb. An example is bargjeto spill > jin tebargjeto spill on oneself.

[hide extra information]
x
Etymology

Although they have the same form, the prefix te- has a different origin from the word teto(o), which can occur independently as both a preposition and an adverb. The prefix is associated with the Gothic morpheme twis- and the root of the numeral twatwo. Its meaning has developed towards in two, in half, broken, apart, separate. The meaning of te-derivations always tends to imply aspects of separation and dissociation. The prefix is a distant relative of the Latin prefix dis-, which is known in Frisian as well.

Originally, te- occurred in all West-Germanic languages. The prefix was commonly used in Old English and Middle English, but in contemporary English the prefix is hardly found. In contrast, in German it has become a very strong element over time. It boomed as zer- (the final segment being a relatively recent addition), under strong influence of the written language and became attached to many simplex verbs, transitive, intransitive and reflexive. In Dutch the verbal prefix te- is only found in the period of Middle Dutch. It is not common anymore in contemporary Dutch. In Frisian the prefix te- has been used since the period of Old Frisian up till now.

[+] Productivity

The use of derivations with te- is restricted mainly to the written language. Its use is comparable to the use of the prefix fer-, which is far more productive than te-. From the verb skuorreto tear apart, for example, one can derive teskuorre or ferskuorre, both meaning to destroy by tearing apart. The difference between the two is that the derivation with te- is stronger and stylistically heavier. Sometimes the verb prefixed by te- seems to be formed on the basis of the fer-verb, with truncation of fer. An example is tebrizeljeto shatter, which lacks a base form *brizelje. Therefore, tebrizelje might have been derived from ferbrizeljeto shatter. The same applies to a verb mainly found as the adjectively used participle tekankereharmed, eroded, litt. to be riddled with cancer, which might be assumed to be a derivation from ferkankereid.. But there is also a verb kankerjeto suffer from cancer, from which it could have been derived as well.

[+] Phonological properties

The prefix is pronounced as [tə]. As it is pronounced with a schwa, the stress in derivations with te- is never on the prefix, e.g. teBREkketo demolish by breaking (see for this effect schwa restriction).

In the dialect spoken on the island of Schiermonnikoog the prefix is still pronounced with a full vowel as [to], written as tò-. A few examples from this dialect are listed below:


Table 3
Base form Derivation
baneto burn baneto burn down
brakketo break brakketo break to pieces
heisterjeto make a fuss heisterjeto damage
[hide extra information]
x
Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:148), Veen (1984-2011; s.v. te-) and Tamminga (1973:90-93), who also accounts for etymological aspects. For the data from the dialect of Schiermnonnikoog, see Visser and Dyk (2002). More details in Tamminga (1973).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1973Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IIA.J. Osinga
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1973It foarheaksel to- by tiidwurdenUs Wurk22215-222
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der et al1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal - Woordenboek der Friese taalFryske Akademy
  • Visser, Willem & Dyk, Siebren2002Eilander Wezzenbúek: woordenboek van het SchiermonnikoogsFryske Akademy Ljouwert
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • The phonotactics of Afrikaans
    [81%] Afrikaans > Phonology > Phonotactics
  • Nasalization
    [80%] Afrikaans > Phonology > Phonological Processes > Vowel related processes
  • Homorganic glide insertion
    [79%] Afrikaans > Phonology > Phonological Processes
  • Rhotacism
    [78%] Afrikaans > Phonology > Phonological Processes > Consonant related processes
  • d-deletion
    [77%] Afrikaans > Phonology > Phonological Processes > Consonant related processes > Consonant cluster simplification: Overview
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • -DIM (diminutive)
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Suffixation > Nominal suffixes > Noun as base
  • ûnt-
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Prefixation > Verbal prefixes > Verb as base
  • Strong and other irregular verbs
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Verbs
  • âld-
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Prefixation > Nominal prefixes > Noun as base
  • General categories
    [87%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Verbs
Show more ▼
syntax
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • 3.3.2. Accusative/PP alternations
    [86%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 3 Projection of verb phrases II:Verb frame alternations > 3.3. Alternations of noun phrases and PPs
  • 2.2.3. Resultative constructions
    [86%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 2 Projection of verb phrases I:Argument structure > 2.2. Complementives (secondary predicates)
  • 2.2.3.1. Agentive er-nominalizations
    [85%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 2 Projection of noun phrases I: complementation > 2.2. Prepositional and nominal complements > 2.2.3. Deverbal nouns
  • 1.3.1.5. Er-nominalization
    [85%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 1 Characterization and classification > 1.3. Derivation of nouns > 1.3.1. Deverbal nouns
  • 3.3.1. Adpositional phrases
    [85%] Dutch > Syntax > Nouns and Noun Phrases > 3 Projection of noun phrases II: modification > 3.3. Postmodification
Show more ▼
cite
print