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The prefix bet- derives nouns from other nouns.The use of this unproductive prefix is highly restricted. We only find it in derivations of kinship terms with oer- or bet-. When fixed to a derivation with oer-, it expresses a third degree kinship term based on a second degree kinship term. An example is oerbeppe great-grandmother > betoerbeppe great-great-grandmother. It can also be applied recursively, so as to form a kinship term of the fourth degree or even higher. An example is betoerbeppe great-great-grandmother > betbetoerbeppe great-great-great-grandmother.

[+]General properties

As bet- is only used for kinship terms, the number of possible derivations with bet- is highly restricted. The possibilities are even more constrained by the fact that bet- can only be attached to derivations with oer- or bet-. Examples are listed below.

Table 1
Base form Derivation
oerpake great-grandfather betoerpake great-great-grandfather
betoerpake great-great-grandfather betbetoerpake great-great-great-grandfather
When attached to a formation with oer-, the prefix bet- expresses a third degree kinship term on the basis of a second degree kinship term. When attached to a derivation with bet-, it forms a fourth degree kinship term out of a third degree kinship term. Theoretically, there can be endless recursion in the use of bet-.

Note that bet- cannot be used to express second-degree kinship terms (*betpake great-grandfather), because second-degree kinship terms are formed with oer- (pake grandfather > oerpake great-grandfather).

Prefix bet- in adverbs of time

In Frisian the use of bet- converted from kinship terms to adverbs of time. This is dealt with in bet- with adverb as base.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix is pronounced as [bɛt]. The stress is on the prefix, as in BEToerpake great-great-grandfather.


This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:64).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
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