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oer-
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The prefix oer- forms adjectives on the basis of other adjectives. There are two subcategories. The straight derivations have the denotation "more than desirable". An example is gefoelichsensitive > oergefoelichoversensitive. The other subcategory only occurs in negative polarity contexts. In combination with the negation, it has a relativizing effect. An example is net oerdjoernot PREF-expensivefairly cheap, based on the adjective djoerexpensive.

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[+] General properties

The prefix oer- is related to the preposition oerover. It manifests itself in two ways. In a neutral sense, it has the denotation "more than desirable". Examples of derivations with this function are given in the table below:


Table 1
Base form Derivation
folfull oerfoloverfull
hearlikdelicious oerhearlikabsolutely delicious
hastichhasty oerhastichoverhasty
rypripe oerrypoverripe
sêdfed up oersêdsatiated
langsumslow oerlangsumextremely slow

A further use of oer- has come about in a more relativizing sense. This use only occurs in a negative polarity context. It requires an adjectival base, usually with a positive connotation. This positivism is, as a first stage, exaggerated by the effect of oer-. However, by the negative context this effect is immediately relativized by the negation. Take the base skjinclean. Prefixation by oer- results in the form oerskjin, which would normally mean extremely clean. However, the presence of a negative element like netnot "diminishes" this meaning. Hence, net oerskjin means something like rather dirty. Other examples of derivations with the prefix oer- which only occur with negative elements are given in the table below:


Table 2
Base form Derivation
grutbig net oergrutrather small
moaibeautiful net oermoairather ugly
romplenty net oerromrather narrow
skjinclean net oerskjinrather dirty
snoadsmart net oersnoadrather stupid
swietsweet net oerswietrather sour
weaksoft net oerweakrather hard
wiidwide net oerwiidrather narrow

The quantifier follemuch can also get the prefix oer-: net oerfolle then means not a lot.

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Another prefix oer-

There is still another prefix oer-, which, however, is not related to the preposition oerover. In Frisian, it only manifests itself in oerâldancient. The prefix is related to Dutch oer- and German ur-. In those languages it has combined with considerably more bases than in Frisian. Examples are Dutch oergezelligquite cosy or oergezondquite healthy. See also German formations like urkomischvery funny or urgemütlichquite cosy.

This prefix may also take nominal bases to form nouns. In this function, it has more applications in Frisian.

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x Another prefix oer-

There is still another prefix oer-, which, however, is not related to the preposition oerover. In Frisian, it only manifests itself in oerâldancient. The prefix is related to Dutch oer- and German ur-. In those languages it has combined with considerably more bases than in Frisian. Examples are Dutch oergezelligquite cosy or oergezondquite healthy. See also German formations like urkomischvery funny or urgemütlichquite cosy.

This prefix may also take nominal bases to form nouns. In this function, it has more applications in Frisian.

[+] Phonological properties

The prefix oer- is pronounced as [u.ər]. The final /r/ is easily subject to deletion. The stress is dependent on its use. In the meaning "more than desirable", the prefix has the main stress, e.g. OERrypoverripe. In the negative polarity use, the main stress is rather on the adjectival base, as in net oerGRUTrather small.

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Literature

This topic is primarily based on Hoekstra (1998:73). The use in negative contexts is mentioned in Tsjepkema (1978:158) and in Hoekstra (1987).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1987Negatio contrariiFriesch Dagblad23-05Taalsnipels 34
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tjepkema, Hotze1978Efkes TaelbuorkjeKoperative Utjowerij, Ljouwert
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