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Frisian has a suffix -en-dy (and a variant -en-har) that forms plural nouns. It is attached to personal names, or nouns functioning in that way, such as domeny minister. It has an associative function, in that it denotes all the persons closely connected to the person referred to by the name. So, Nauta-en-dy can be mr. Nauta and his wife, or more probably he, his wife and their children, or even his wider family. Bonne-en dy can be Bonne and his friends. The suffix can be considered the result of univerbation of the conjunction en and plus a pronoun, a view which is supported by data from Frisian peripheral dialects.

[+]General properies of -en-dy and -en-har

As they seem to be variants of each other, the suffixes -en-dy and -en-har are dealt with here in the same topic. Their semantics (see the section on semantic properties below) is similar, and their historical background is probably a good deal the same. The variant -en-har is less common in use, although lack of data makes it hard to make clear statements about this issue. The same applies to possible dialectical differences. It is therefore unclear whether the variant -en-har could be characterized as productive, but the variant -en-dy certainly is.

The result of suffixation is a plural noun. Semantically, this is natural since more persons are involved. But the noun also triggers plural agreement with the finite verb. Compare:

a. Jan-en-dy komme ek
John-and-those come-PL also
John and associates also come
b. *Jan-en-dy komt ek
John-and-those come-SG also

Plurality is also in line with the probable historical development; see the section on diachronic note below.

[+]Input restrictions

The suffixes -en-dy and -en-har are attached to personal names. They can be first names; a girl's name in Feikje-en-dy or a boy's name in Feike-en-dy, but also family names: Brandsma-en-dy, Dykstra-en-har, etc. In addition, also nouns functioning as proper names are appropriate: master-en-dy (the schoolmaster), dominy-en-har (the minister), ús buorman-en-har (the neighbour, with a possessive pronoun ús our).

[+]Semantic properties

The meaning contribution of the suffix could be described as associative, something like English "& co". It refers to those who are closely related to the person mentioned in the base. Usually, family relations are involved: wife and children, or brothers and sisters, or further siblings. But one can also think of friends or colleagues. In an example as by Adema-en-dy binne se al oan it haaien at Adema-and-those are they already on it make.hay it is said that the farmer Adema and his workers are already making hay. In most cases the suffix denotes several people, but it can also be one, for instance a husband or wife. Thus Sake-en-dy could be Sake and his wife. This use is not generally accepted, however.

[+]Diachronic note

Diachronically, the suffixes must be the result of univerbation, which is also reflected orthographically in the spelling with hyphens (although spellings with separate words also occur). The part en is the conjunction en [ɛn] and, but the pronunciation is mostly reduced to [ən], with /n/ in many cases being syllabic (see the topic on syllabic sonorant consonants). Only after a vowel can the original pronunciation be retained: Ida-en-dy [ida(:)ɛndi].

The elements dy and har are pronouns. The former is a demonstrative pronoun, but without a following noun, and therefore presumably in deictic use). Potentially, har could be a possessive pronoun (third person, plural) or a personal pronoun (object form, third person, plural). In the 19th century we also see a variant -en-harre. According to (Veen 1984-2011) s.v. har IV the possessive pronoun could then indeed be extended by a schwa, but we do not see this with the personal pronoun har. The dialect of Hindeloopen, on the other hand, has a variant that reflects the subject form of the corresponding personal pronoun (see the section on dialectical peculiarities below), which might lead to the conclusion that it is the personal pronoun har that is involved. This would also form a nice parallel with the deictic use of dy.

The expressions are fixed, however. If we really had a free conjunct here, the form har could not occur in subject position. Compare:

a. Jansma-en-har komme ek
Jansma-and-them come.PL also
The Jansma-family also comes
b. *Har komme ek
Them.PL.ACC come.PL also
c. Hja komme ek
They.PL.NOM come.PL also
They also come

Hence, the parts en-har and en-dy are not free syntactic elements, and we therefore see a development to a status as suffix.

[+]Morphological potential

The morphological potential of the formations is quite limited: no plural, no diminutive, no input for derivation or composition. An exception is the genitive in its various uses, as possessivedat is Jan-en-dys auto that is the car of John and his family, or ellipticaldat is Jan-en-dys, or local: wy geane nei Jan-en-dys we are going to the home of John and his family.

[+]Dialectical peculiarities

The Frisian peripheral dialects show some interesting variants. In the small town of Hindeloopen, one uses the variant with a personal pronoun; here, however, not with the dialectical object form jerm but with the nominative or subject form . Thus we get Jan-en-jê John and his family.

The island of Schiermonnikoog, with its three-gender system, uses a demonstrative pronoun, but the distal demonstrative pronoun for the plural has a special form, i.e. (see also this Extra on demonstratives in the dialect of Schiermonnikoog). An example is ik wie by Tjêve-en-dà I was in the home of Tjebbe and his family.

The same form da pops up in the western dialect of the island of Terschelling, as in ús Antse-en-da our sister Antse and her family. This is most likely a direct continuation of Old Frisian thâ, which only survived in this construction, as the corresponding regular demonstrative form is dy [di] in this dialect, similar to mainland Frisian. In Aasters, the eastern dialect of the island, /d/ has become deleted, so that the suffix is spelled as -ena, or even -na after some vowels. We thus get mimmena my mother and her family (from dialectical mim mother) and tana my father and his family (from ta father).


The subject of this topic is briefly dealt with in Hoekstra (1988) and Hoekstra (1988). For the dialect of Hindeloopen: De Boer (1950:125). For Schiermonnikoog: Fokkema (1969:27) and Visser and Dyk (2002:54). For the western dialect of Terschelling: Knop (1954:186). For the eastern dialect: Roggen (1976:76-77).

  • Boer, Bernardus de1950Studie over het dialect van HindeloopenAssenVan Gorcum & Comp.
  • Fokkema, Douwe1969Beknopte spraakkunst van het SchiermonnikoogsLjouwert/LeeuwardenFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1988Jan-en-dyFriesch Dagblad23-04Taalsnipels 72
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1988Jan-en-dy (II)Friesch Dagblad07-05Taalsnipels 73
  • Knop, Gerrit1954De spraakkunst der Terschellinger dialectenAssenVan Gorcum & Comp.
  • Roggen, Cornelis1976Aasters. Oosterschellinger dialectAlgemiene Fryske Underrjocht Kommisje
  • Veen, Klaas F. van der et al1984-2011Wurdboek fan de Fryske taal - Woordenboek der Friese taalFryske Akademy
  • Visser, Willem & Dyk, Siebren2002Eilander Wezzenbúek: woordenboek van het SchiermonnikoogsFryske Akademy Ljouwert
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