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The suffix -jei derives verbs from nouns, adjectives or verbs. It grammaticalized out of the lexical verb jeie to hunt, hence it rather is a suffixoid, and it still has a semantics which mostly indicates some wild or uncontrolled behaviour. An example is topjeie to 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 jeie to 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
murd polecat murdejeie to hunt polecats
roek rook roekejeie to hunt rooks
mol mole mollejeie to hunt moles
mich fly miggejeie to hunt flies
flie flea fliejeie to hunt fleas
maits maggot maitsejeie to hunt maggots
skiep sheep skieppejeie to drive sheep
snoek pike snoekejeie to 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
skosse ice floe skoskejeie to jump from one ice floe to the other
draak dragon draakjeie to fly a kite
slide sledge slydjeie to sledge
top top topjeie to play with a top
hoep hoop hoepjeie to bowl a hoop
bean bean beanjeie to thresh beans (with horses)
belslide horse-sledge belslydjeie to take part in a competition with horse-sledges
bôle bread bôlejeie to bring around bread
hynder horse hynderjeie to play horsey
dong manure dongjeie to harrow
koalsied coleseed koalsiedjeie to thresh rape (with horses)
strie straw striejeie to 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 (< hoer prostitute), and grapjeie means to put on airs, while grapkje means to joke (< grap joke).

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
gek crazy gekjeie to poke fun (at)
mâl silly mâljeie to joke with someone
wyld wild wyldjeie to 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 gekjeie to poke fun (at) vs gekje to poke fun (at), mâljeie to joke with someone vs mâlje to joke with someone and wyldjeie to hurry about vs wyldzje to 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
strune to forage strúnjeie go out to spy on a couple making love (and disturb them)
dúnje to behave restlessly dúnjeie to behave restlessly
twirje to whirl twirjeie to snow whirling
boartsje to play boartjeie to horse around
bolje to stop work boljeie to stop work (to strike)
donderje to nag donderjeie to be a pain in the ass
ferdonderje to waste away ferdonderjeie to make a mess of things
Particle verbs

At first sight, it might seem that there are also adverbial bases. Candidates are fuort away in fuortjeie to chase away and gear together in gearjeie to crowd together. Prepositions functioning as base could be nei after in neijeie to chase after, oan on in oanjeie to boost and troch through in trochjeie to 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 jeie to hunt.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix -jeie does not bear stress; the stress pattern of the base form remains the same, for example in: DONderje to nag > DONderjeie to be a pain in the ass and le bread > lejeie to bring around bread.


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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