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The suffix -jei derives verbs from nouns, adjectives or verbs. It grammaticalized out of the lexical verb jeieto hunt, hence it rather is a suffixoid, and it still has a semantics which mostly indicates some wild or uncontrolled behaviour. An example is topjeieto play with a top. Formally, the derivations still inflect in the same manner as the irregular verb jeie itself.

[+] Noun as base

In Frisian, one can find verbal compounds with a noun as first part, and the verb jeieto hunt as second part. These compounds have the meaning 'to hunt at {noun}' or 'to drive {noun}. The noun normally denotes an animal in these cases. Examples can be found in the table below, some of them showing the linking element -e-:

Table 1
Base form Compound
murdpolecat murdejeieto hunt polecats
roekrook roekejeieto hunt rooks
molmole mollejeieto hunt moles
michfly miggejeieto hunt flies
flieflea fliejeieto hunt fleas
maitsmaggot maitsejeieto hunt maggots
skiepsheep skieppejeieto drive sheep
snoekpike snoekejeieto drive pikes

However, the verb jeie also has a metaphorical meaning which can loosely be described as to move fast or forcefully, which can be applied both transitively and intransitively. The existence of this vague metaphorical meaning, in combination with the easy availability of noun incorporation in Frisian, may have a led to a very productive pattern. Subsequently, the part -jei(e) may have been interpreted as a suffix that derives verbs from nouns, very much like the pattern of conversion. A semantic difference remains, however: verbs with jei denote a rather "wild" action, an aspect that must have been retained from the original meaning of the verb jeie. Some examples are presented below:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
skosseice floe skoskejeieto jump from one ice floe to the other
draakdragon draakjeieto fly a kite
slidesledge slydjeieto sledge
toptop topjeieto play with a top
hoephoop hoepjeieto bowl a hoop
beanbean beanjeieto thresh beans (with horses)
belslidehorse-sledge belslydjeieto take part in a competition with horse-sledges
bôlebread bôlejeieto bring around bread
hynderhorse hynderjeieto play horsey
dongmanure dongjeieto harrow
koalsiedcoleseed koalsiedjeieto thresh rape (with horses)
striestraw striejeieto thresh straw (with horses)

Morphologically, the relation with the original verb remains intact, as all these verbs inflect in exactly the same manner as the irregular verb jeieitself. As the inflectional suffixes are needed anyway, one could infer that the derivational suffix is the part -jei.

The suffix -jei cannot occur after all nouns since there is a semantic restriction that it can only be used to denote a "wild activity". In this vein one can often find a slight meaning difference between the verb with -jei and comparable verbs derived by neutral transposition or conversion of the noun. For example, huorrejeie means to go to prostitutes, while huorkje means to whore (< hoerprostitute), and grapjeie means to put on airs, while grapkje means to joke (< grapjoke).

The development sketched above seems to be a fine example of grammaticalization. This is supported by the fact that the derivational pattern with -jei has extended to a few adjectival bases. The following ones, with a common semantic property "uncontrolled behaviour", are relevant:

Table 3
Base form Compound / Derivation
gekcrazy gekjeieto poke fun (at)
mâlsilly mâljeieto joke with someone
wyldwild wyldjeieto hurry about

In these cases the meaning of the derivation is also a "wild activity" . The verbs have counterparts without -jeie which have (almost the) same meaning. Compare gekjeieto poke fun (at) vs gekjeto poke fun (at), mâljeieto joke with someone vs mâljeto joke with someone and wyldjeieto hurry about vs wyldzjeto hurry about.

An alternative analysis for these verbs could be that they are not directly derived from an adjective, but rather from a converted verb (with an adjectival base). To be more concrete, in this way mâljeie would not have been derived from the adjective mâl, but from the verb mâlje. If this analysis is correct, verbs like mâljeie should be dealt with in the following section.

[+] Verb as base

The suffix -jeie can also derive verbs from verbs which already denote a "wild activity":

Table 4
Base form Derivation
struneto forage strúnjeiego out to spy on a couple making love (and disturb them)
dúnjeto behave restlessly dúnjeieto behave restlessly
twirjeto whirl twirjeieto snow whirling
boartsjeto play boartjeieto horse around
boljeto stop work boljeieto stop work (to strike)
donderjeto nag donderjeieto be a pain in the ass
ferdonderjeto waste away ferdonderjeieto make a mess of things
[show extra information]

At first sight, it might seem that there are also adverbial bases. Candidates are fuortaway in fuortjeieto chase away and geartogether in gearjeieto crowd together. Prepositions functioning as base could be neiafter in neijeieto chase after, oanon in oanjeieto boost and trochthrough in trochjeieto hurry on. However, these cases are more profitably analyzed as particle verbs. We then have a kind of compound with the verb jeie as the right-hand member.

[+] Morphological properties

Verbs with -jei inflect in exactly the same manner as the paradigm of the irregular verb jeieto hunt.

[+] Phonological properties

The suffix -jeie does not bear stress; the stress pattern of the base form remains the same, for example in: DONderjeto nag > DONderjeieto be a pain in the ass and lebread > lejeieto bring around bread.

[show extra information]
x Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:143-144) and Hoekstra (1991).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1991Tiidwurden op -jeieFriesch Dagblad09-03Taalsnipels 176
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
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