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be-
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The prefix be- productively derives transitive verbs on the basis of nouns. It adds an ornative meaning, which can be described as to supply something with the object named in the base form. An example is dongmanure > bedongjeto manure (a piece of land).

The prefix be- primarily takes verbs as base, but also some adjectives.

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[+] General properties

The prefix be- may productively derive transitive verbs on the basis of nouns. It adds an ornative meaning to the base form. The meaning of be-derivations can be described as to supply something with the object named in the base form. Examples are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
dykdike bedykjeto dike in
woartelroot bewoarteljeto take root
dongmanure bedongjeto manure
paadpath bepaadzjeto lay (a) path(s)
muorrewall bemuorjeto wall in
moddermud bemodderjeto soil with mud
letterletter beletterjeto letter
meubelpiece of furniture bemeubeljeto furnish
kabelcable bekabeljeto cable
frachtfreight befrachtsjeto load
boskforest beboskjeto (af)forest
manman bemanjeto man
The derived verbs are transitive. Semantically, their objects have the role of Location or Goal. For example, the verb bepaadzje, with its base noun paadpath, can take an object like in túna garden. Therefore, ' in tún bepaadzje means something like make a path/paths in a garden. In the same way, in keamer bemeubeljea room PREF-furniture-INF means to put furniture in a room.

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An alternative analysis

It is assumed here that the derivations above have a noun as base. For Frisian, the alternative idea has been put forward by Veenstra (1988) and Hoekstra (1998:155) that they actually have a verbal base. This would be achieved by conversion of the base noun to a verb, even in those cases in which the converted verb is not in use, hence where it should be interpreted as a possible word. An advantage of this view would be that be- only takes verbal bases. Moreover, Williams' (1981)Right Head Hand Rule could be upheld.

[+] Phonological properties

The prefix is pronounced as [bə]. As this contains a schwa, the stress is not on the prefix, e.g. beDYKjeto dike in. This effect is a consequence of the schwa restriction.

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Literature

The most extensive treatment of Frisian be-verbs is Veenstra (1988:136-174). See also Tamminga (1963:203-204) and Hoekstra (1998:155-156). More details in Versloot (2006).

References:
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1963Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IBoalsertA.J. Osinga
  • Veenstra, Durk H1988Oer de grammatika fan be-ferbaDyk, S. & Haan, G.J. de (eds.)Wurdfoarried en wurdgrammatika, LjouwertLjouwertFryske Akademy136-174
  • Veenstra, Durk H1988Oer de grammatika fan be-ferbaDyk, S. & Haan, G.J. de (eds.)Wurdfoarried en wurdgrammatika, LjouwertLjouwertFryske Akademy136-174
  • Versloot, Arjen P2006In klankrike taalFriesch Dagblad24-061
  • Williams, Edwin1981On the notions `lexically related' and `head of a word'Linguistic Inquiry12254-274
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