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The suffix -DIMs, a diminutive + -s , can occur in three different shapes: -tsjes, -jes and -kes. These suffixes can be added to adjectives and adverbs (minnich bad > minnichjes poor, niis just now > nyskes just now) and interjections (och heden! oh no! > och heedsjes! oh no!). The derived forms are always of the same category as their base: a derivation in -DIMs from an adjective is also an adjective. The same holds for adverbs and interjections.

Apart from the final -s , the diminutive suffix -DIMs has the same distribution and properties as the diminutive suffix -DIM itself. However, there are a few remarkable differences between -DIM and -DIMs.

[+]-DIM vs -DIMs

A derivation with the diminutive suffix -DIM from whatever base form always results in a noun, where a derivation in -DIMs always results in a lexical category which is the same as the base form. Thus a derivation from an adjective results in an adjective, a derivation from an adverb results in an adverb, and a derivation from an interjection results in an interjection. Although the suffix -DIMs contains a diminutive, the meaning of the derivations does not denote a diminution of the base form.

There is also a difference in productivity between -DIM and -DIMs. The suffix -DIM is productive for all of its allomorphs, where -DIMs is not. Only the suffixes -tsjes and -jes are productive to a certain extent. They can form new derivations as brún brown > brúntsjes brown, smout sheltered > smoutsjes sheltered, wurch tired > wurchjes tired or smûk cosy > smûkjes cosy. However, the form -kes does not have this possibility: stiif stiff > *styfkes, waarm hot > *waarmkes and krap tight > *krapkes.

[+]Input restrictions

There are three forms of the suffix -DIMs: -tsjes, -jes and -kes. To a certain extent their distribution resembles the pattern of the diminutive suffix. The form -tsjes appears after stems ending in the dentals [d], [l], [n] and [t]; see for examples the table below. The form -jes appears after the velars [x] and [k]; examples are also given in the table below. As has been noted above, Frisian does not have many derivations ending in -kes. In addition to its unproductivity we see instances of -tjses and -jes after bases where -kes were to be expected. Examples are flau tasteless > *flaukes > flautsjes tasteless and los loose > *loskes > losjes loosely. The fact that there is no clear rule for the use of -kes could be due to influence from the Dutch language, which does have the forms -tjes and -jes, but not -kes.

There are a lot of derivations in -DIMs after a base form ending in /əg/ [əx]; according to the input restrictions mentioned above, this results in the selection of the variant -jes. The suffix -DIMs has properties comparable to the suffix -ich. As two adjacent occurrences of /əg/ [əx] are not acceptable, the suffix -DIMs is preferred over -ich. Compare sunich economically > *sunigich > sunichjes economically, stadich slowly > *stadigich > stadichjes slowly.

Derivations in -ich from adjectives ending in [x] are also doubtful: smoarch dirty > ?smoargich grubby, wurch tired > ?wurgich tired, slûch sleepy > ?slûgich sleepy. In these cases, the suffix -DIMs is also often used instead, compare slûchjes sleepy and droechjes dryly, which are grammatical.

[+]Adjective/Adverb as base

The suffix -DIMs mostly occurs after adjectives. The adjective form can be used as adverb as well. Because of this fact, the derivations of both categories are dealt with here in one section.

The derivation has more or less the meaning "fairly being {adjective/adverb}". Examples are given in the table below. Each base form can only take one form of the three -DIMs suffixes.

Table 1
Base form Derivation in -tsjes Derivation in -jes Derivation in -kes
licht light lichtsjes lightly
swiet sweet swietsjes sweet
stil silent stiltsjes silently
himmel clean himmeltsjes clean
eamel poor eameltsjes poorly
skraal thin skraaltsjes thinly
kein beautiful keintsjes beautifully
blyn blind blyntsjes blindly
gewoan regular gewoantsjes regularly
machtich power machtsjes extraordinary
sunich soft súntsjes softly
sunich economical sunichjes economically
minnich bad minnichjes poor
behindich skilful behindichjes skilful
stadich slow stadichjes slowly
aardich nice aardichjes nicely
suterich dingy suterichjes dingy
foarsichtich careful foarsichtichjes carefully
bleek pale bleekjes pale
swak weak swakjes weak
noflik pleasant noflikjes pleasantly
kloek thrifty kloekjes thrifty
straks later strakjes in a moment
leaf sweet leafkes sweet
sêft soft sêftkes softly
even just efkes just
njonkelytsen gradually njonkelytskes gradually

Adjectives in -DIMs can only be used predicatively, which is shown in the example below:

Example 1

a. *It slûchjese bern
the tired-DIMs-e kid
The tired kid
b. It bern is slûchjes
the kid is tired-DIMs
The kid is tired

However, adjectives in -DIMs that are not transparent any longer can be used attributively as well:

Example 2

Hy hat netsjese klean oan
he has nice-DIMs-e clothes on
He is all dressed up
Dat is súntsjese muzyk
that is soft-DIMs-e music
That is gentle music
In fyntsjese opmerking
a subtle-DIMs-e remark
A subtle remark

Examples of derivations from a genuine adverbial base are strakjes (from strak later) or nyskes (from niis recently, also displaying shortening of long /i:/). Sometimes one can find a derivation in -DIMs next to an adverb with adverbial -s. For example, next to strak later and strakjes there is also the common form straks. Compare also stilstântsjes run-up next to stilstâns run-up and ûnderdúmkes(wei) secretly next to ûnderdúms secretly. Most of these forms are strongly lexicalized, and for most language users the connection with the base form is barely recognizable.

[+]Interjection as base

The suffix -DIMs can also be added to interjections, to form other interjections. A few examples are given in the table below:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
dach! hello! dachjes! hello!
wrachtich! sure enough! wrachtsjes! sure enough!
och heden! oh no! och heedsjes! oh no!
no no! there there! nokes nokes! there there!
[+]Phonological properties

The final [ɣ] of the base form becomes voiceless before -DIMs, for example: droech [druɣ] dry > droechjes [druxjəs] dry and suterich [sytərəɣ] neglected > suterichjes [sytərəxjəs] neglected.

In some cases, the base form ending /ich/ is truncated before -DIMs: machtich power > machtsjes extraordinary and sunich economically > súntsjes economically. Truncation of /en/ does also occur: effen just > efkes just and njonkelytsen gradually > njonkelytskes gradually.

[+]Morphological potential

Apart from some non-transparent derivations in -DIMs, which are used attributively and get an extra suffix -e, -DIMs suffixes cannot be input for further derivations. A few examples: *slûchjes-er, *swietsjes-ich and *skraaltsjes-heid. However, non-transparent derivations like netsjes clean do sometimes allow further derivations, though this is not always fully accepted. For example: netsjes-er more clean, ?netsjes-ich more or less clean and netsjes-heid neatness.

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This section is based on Hoekstra (1998:160-162).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy