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aarts-
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The prefix aarts- derives nouns from other nouns. Two types of derivations can be composed with the prefix. An example of the first type is biskopbishop > aartsbisskoparchbishop, where the derivation refers to a person with the highest ranking. An example of the second type is dogeneatscoundrel > aartsdogeneatarrant knave, where the derivation describes a person in a highly negative way.

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[+] General properties

The prefix aarts- takes nominal bases. It is pronounced as [a:ts]. The prefix comes from the Greek word archifirst, highest and is related to English arch- and Dutch aarts-. Two types of derivation can be distinguished.

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No adjectival bases

In German and Dutch, the comparable prefix may also take adjectival bases, as for instance in Dutch aartsconservatiefvery conservative (< conservatiefconservative) or German erzdummvery stupid (< dummstupid). This is impossible in Frisian: *aartskonservatyf or *aartsdom. Instead, one must use an independent adverb for expressing a comparable high degree, preferably enforced with an emphatic ending -e, for example in ôfgryslike konservatyfvery conservative or grouwélige domvery stupid.

[+] Social functions

The prefix aarts- primarily takes bases denoting persons that have a certain, mostly higher, social function. The derivation then refers to the person within the group that has the highest ranking:


Table 1
Base form Derivation
biskopbishop aartsbiskoparchbishop
hartochduke aartshartocharchduke
ingelangel aartsingelarchangel
fijânenemy aartsfijânarch-enemy

Furthermore, there is the word aartsfaderpatriarch or its variant aartsfaar, possibly a loan from Dutch since the common Frisian word for 'father' is heit; the older form fader, also shortened to faar, is now obsolete.

In this pattern, the stress is fully on the prefix, for example in AARTSbiskoparchbishop.

[+] Negative value

There is a second but related use of aarts- in which it can take a few bases that denote a person having a negatively valued property. Here, the prefix has an intensifying function. Examples are dogeneatrogue > aartsdogeneatarrant rogue or domkopblockhead > aartsdomkopreal blockhead. Here, the main stress is on the base, however with extra prominence on the prefix.

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From earts- to earst

With respect to the second type, the prefix aarts-[a:ts] has been pronounced as earts-[ɪ.əts] for a certain length of time, along the lines of a regular phonological change in Frisian. The prefix became confused with the ordinal and adjective earst[ɪ.əst]first. A favourable circumstance was also that the stress in the derivation resembled the pattern found in a phrase consisting of an adjective followed by a noun. As a consequence, expressions like in earste(n) dogeneata real rogue or in earste(n) domkopa real dunce came into existence, with the inflectional suffix -e) or the emphatic suffix -en). The use of in earste(n)a real later extended to positive evaluations, for example in in earste(n) hurddravera firstclass runner, in earste(n) leafhawwer fan klassike muzyka serious fan of classical music, etcetera. One could possibly qualify this development as a case of degrammaticalization, where we see an affix developing into an independent word.

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Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:66) and Tamminga (1973:177-179), who documents the transition aart- > earts- > earst. This development was first noticed in Van Blom (1889:52).

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x Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:66) and Tamminga (1973:177-179), who documents the transition aart- > earts- > earst. This development was first noticed in Van Blom (1889:52).

References:
  • Blom, Philippus van1889Beknopte friesche Spraakkunst voor den tegenwoordigen tijdLeeuwardenJ.W. Muller
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1973Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IIA.J. Osinga
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