December 7, 2018

TA - The Tiny Word That Also Means "Closed"

This post is based on a question asked by a member of the Fun With Frisian Facebook Group. The Frisian word ta looks very simple, like a happy cognate to the English "to." It can mean "to" or "towards" just as you would suspect. However, it seems to have another layer or two that might not match up so well with modern English. Ta can mean "closed" or carry the sense of something ending, or only going up to a certain point and no further. It can also imply that something is breaking into pieces or separating.

Let's start with these two less English-friendly examples:

De gerdinen binne ta. 
The curtains are closed (or: tight, shut).
[duh guh-DEEN-uhn BIHN-nuh TAH.]

De doar is ta.
The door is shut.
[duh DWAWR IHs TAH.]

In another example, we can see the "to" meaning combined with the idea of an ending, a limit, or closing:

Hy stie oan 'e knibbels ta yn 't wetter.
He stood up to his knees in water.
[HIGH shTEE AWN uh knIHb-buhls TAH EENt VEHt-tuhr.]

The underlying idea of going towards a place, but with a limitation on time or space (there and no further), shows up again here:

Er nei it húske ta moat.
He must go to the bathroom.

...oan 'e ein fan it jier ta...
...until the end of the year...
[AWN uh IHGn fAWN uht EEr TAH...]

Meshing a bit with the idea of limitation or closing, ta can also sometimes be used to express adversity or as a word of emphasis:

Tink ris ta!
Really think about it!

It is der wol ta kommen.
It's going to take effort.

Of course, sometimes ta means "to" like you'd hope and expect.

Lju ta it feestmiel roppe.
To call people to the feast.

...yn augustus nei Ljouwert ta komme. come to Ljouwert (Leeuwarden) in August.

View from the Ljouwert bus station.
Photo taken by the author in August of 2017.

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