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A > N

Frisian adjectives may be converted into nouns on a moderate scale. From the adjective djipdeep, for example, one may derive the noun djip, which is a deep waterway. The derived nouns predominantly display the property inherent to the adjectival source. The pattern can be considered productive in the realm of colour terms and languages. Examples are readred > it readthe red colour, or SweedskSwedish > it Sweedskthe Swedish language. The use of other converted nouns is often restricted to certain fixed patterns or expressions. Most derived nouns have neuter gender, but those referring to persons are common.

[+] General properties

Conversion of an adjective into a noun usually results in a property meaning: the output noun typically refers to something that has the property denoted by the adjective. The converted nouns differ with respect to gender. If it refers to a thing, the converted noun is neuter, and therefore takes the definite article itthe:

Table 1
Adjectival Base Converted Noun
ljochtnot dark, bright it ljochtlight
tsjusternot light, not bright it tsjusterdark
heechhigh it heechhigh place
wiidspacious it wiidwidth
fetmuch fat, not skinny it fetfat
smelnarrow it smelsmall pieces of meat on both sides of the spine of a slaughtered pig
djipdeep it djipdeep water
griengreen it grienthe colour green
readred it readthe colour red
blynblind it blynblindage
sâltsalty it sâlt(common) salt
soersour it soerpickles
rjochtstraight it rjochtjustice
tsjokthick it tsjokgrounds
fjouwerkantsquare formed it fjouwerkantsquare
wietwet it wietthe wet
gehielwhole it gehielthe whole
orizjineeloriginal it orizjineelthe original

The names of languages can be added to this stock. So, from the adjective Fryskfrom Friesland can be derived it FryskFrisian, and we have the language it SineeskChinese from the adjective Sineeskfrom China. This conversion of geographical adjectives to the names of languages can be considered productive, as is the conversion in the realm of colour terms. In other areas, the productivity of the pattern is strongly restricted. Note that the geographical adjectives themselves are derived from geographical names by suffixation.

Conversion to nouns denoting an animal is extremely rare. There are only jongyoung > it jongyoung animal and wyldwild > it wyldgame. Both formations have neuter gender, but they differ in that it jong is a count noun, where it wyld is a mass noun.

Conversion to nouns referring to persons does not occur frequently either. In this case, the gender of the converted noun is common, hence it takes the definite article dethe. Examples are listed below:

Table 2
Adjectival base Converted noun
ferwoestvery angry de ferwoestwild person
gekcrazy de geklunatic
komykcomic de komykcomedian
autochtoanautochthonous de autochtoannative
krimineelcriminal de krimineelcriminal
liberaalliberal de liberaalliberal

As can be seen from these cases, non-native adjectives are relatively open for conversion to a personal noun.

[+] Collocations

One aspect that may point to restricted productivity is the property that many formations preferably occur in a collocation, for instance in an Adposition Phrase (PP) with a fixed preposition. Examples are iepenbierpublic > yn it iepenbierin the publicpublicly, or its counterpart geheimsecret > yn it geheimin the secretsecretly. We see the same preposition in the kind of clothing: yn it wytin the white(dressed) in white (from wytwhite) or yn it langin the longin a long dress (from langlong).

Other examples of collocations show an almost obligatory additional specification, embodied in a PP, like it weak (fan 't liif)the soft (of the body)the soft tissues (of the body), it giel (fan 't aai)the yellow (of the egg)the egg yolk or it toar (fan 't spek)the lean of the baconthe lean part of the bacon.

We can also find frequent mostly metaphorically used binominal expressions, like swiet en soersweet and sourthe rough and the smooth of life, ryp en grienripe and greenpeople with all kinds of qualifications; everybody, wiet en droechwet and dryfood en drinks. Such binominal expressions may also refer to persons, as in slop-en-taaisoft and toughtall person who is skinny and weak or meager-en-kweaslim and evillong and weak mischievous. The latter expressions are preferably used predicatively, in an indefinite noun phrase (NP).

In addition, some other results of A>N conversion denoting a person can likewise only occur with the indefinite article ina(n), and only if they occur in comparisons. Examples are ... as in wyld... as a wild(looking) like a wild one, prate as in âldtalk like an oldtalk like a grown-up and sûpe as in kreupelbooze like a crippleget pissed.

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This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:106).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
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