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Deletion of prefix-final /r/
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In language after language, prefixes behave differently from suffixes in always being non-cohering or, put differently, in always forming an independent domain of syllabification. In general, a stem-final consonant surfaces as the onset of a vowel-initial suffix, but a prefix-final consonant does not show up as the onset of a vowel-initial stem. A prefix boundary thus coincides with a syllable boundary, see Booij (1995:30) for Dutch. Prefixes having a relatively independent phonological status, complex words derived with a prefix and compounds have quite a comparable phonological structure. The subject of this topic is /r/-deletion in complex words derived with an /r/-final prefix.

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As to deletion, one expects prefix-final /r/ to behave like the final /r/ of the left-hand member of a compound. It is, however, impossible to check whether or not this expectation is borne out by the facts. Frisian has just one /r/-final (schwa-)prefix, viz. fer- (/fər-/), which has the property that its /r/ deletes before any stem-initial consonant (with the exception of /h/). This is exemplified in (1):

Example 1

Examples of complex words derived with the (verbal) prefix fer-
ferbaarne /fər+ba:nə/ [fəba:nə] to burn down
ferdiele /fər+diələ/ [fədiələ] to divide
ferfarre /fər+farə/ [fəfarə] to move house
fergean /fər+ɡɪən/ [fəɡɪən] to pass by
ferjitte /fər+jɪtə/ [fəjɪtə] to forget; to shed
ferkeapje /fər+kɪəpjə/ [fəkɪəpjə] to sell
ferlieze /fər+liəzə/ [fəliəzə] to lose
fermeitsje /fər+majtsjə/ [fəmajtsjə] to amuse, to entertain; to alter, to remodel
ferneame /fər+nɪəmə/ [fənɪəmə] to name after
ferpakke /fər+pakə/ [fəpakə] to pack up
fersakje /fər+sakjə/ [fəsakjə] to subside
fertille /fər+tɪlə/ [fətɪlə] to lift over
ferwize /fər+vi:zə/ [fəvi:zə] to refer (to)
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In case the stem is /r/-initial − as with ferriede/fər+riədə/[fəriədə]to betray− one [r] remains. The unity of the analysis forces us to assume that /r/-deletion operates here, though degemination can do the job as well.

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Extra prominence may preserve /r/ from deletion, as in it is FERMAAKLIKit is very, very amusing, entertaining, where fermaaklik/fər+ma:klək/ can be realized as either [fərma:klək] or [fəma:klək].

Curses and/or disguised oaths − like ferdikke/fərdɪkə/, ferdoarje/fərdoərjə/ and ferdomme/fərdomə/, all meaning darn it! or damned!− are generally realized with a fair amount of emphasis. Not only does /r/ not delete here, it also has a prolonged realization. The emotional content of such words seems to be underlined by deviant phonological behaviour.

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The initial part fer- of loanwords − like fer'baalverbal, fer'benaverbena, vervain, fermil'joenvermillion, fer'mintferment, fermin'tearjeto ferment, fermi'seljevermicelli, fer'nisvarnish, and ferti'kaalvertical − is realized as [fɛr-]. Since fer- does not bear stress, [ɛ] may reduce to schwa, especially when fer- is immediately followed by the syllable bearing main stress. Reduction, however, does not pave the way for /r/-deletion. The word ferbaal, for instance, can be realized as either [fɛrba:l] or [fərba:l], but not as [*fəba:l]. Deletion appears to be a prerogative of the /r/ of the prefix fer-.

References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
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