How to Express ‘to Need (Something)’ in Eilauners

Written by Dyami Millarson

The usual expression for to need (something) in Eilauners is neudich hewwe. No matter how odd this may seem to English speakers who are accustomed to using a single verb, this two-word expression is by far the most common in Eilauners. Nevertheless, it is also possible in Eilauners to use a single verb to express the same idea, but a speaker of English ought to keep in mind that the use of these verbs is more limited: The alternatives to neudich hewwe (to need) are (fer)aiskje (to demand), fergje (to require) and friegje (to ask for). The alternatives are more abstract than neudich hewwe.

It must be noted that ‘hewwe’ used in the two-word expression is an irregular verb, whereas the alternatives are entirely regular verbs. There is a preference in Eilauners for irregular verbs. So whenever there is a choice between using a regular or irregular verb, the choice generally falls on the latter. This drastically limits the amount of verbs that are in frequent daily use. Speakers of Eilauners occasionally deviate from said patterns to spice things up, but these deviations are experienced as just that, deviations from the established norm. Therefore, (fer)aiskje, fergje ans friegje are experienced as exotic, weird and unusual and overuse of these verbs would immediately betray one is not a native.

The English verb need is a structurally less complex expression than neudich hewwe (structure: adjective + irregular verb), which attests to the idea that small languages may be more complex. We can probably all agree that it would be simpler to be able to expression the same idea with a single verb, but this is not the usual expression in Eilauners (and not in Dutch and Frisian either, which are relatively small languages on the world stage as well compared to big players like Spanish, Mandarin and English). Smaller communities have the ability to preserve structural complexity more easily since there are fewer members whose cooperation is needed to enforce conformity.


  • Wy hewwe him neudich. We need him.
  • Wy hiene gin breige neudich om oon ‘e eeuwre kaunt tò kommen. We did not need a bridge to get to the other side.
  • Wy hewwe neut in wôkhieuwn neudich haun. We have never needed a watchdog (and this is probably never going to change).
  • Hie ik dat neudich haun, dan hie ik it al lang kaft. Had I needed that, I would already have bought it long ago.
  • Ik sil dat wal helendal net neudich hewwe. I will probably not need that at all.
  • Ik súe dat, tink ik, eeuwnder geweune omstandichheden net neudich hewwe. I think I would not need that under normal circumstances.
  • Hy friege om in besonderen oonpak. He requires a special approach; you need to treat him in a special way.
  • Dat friege in eeuwr ynsicht. That requires another way of looking at it; you need to look at it another way.
  • Dat feraiske in berch ynsat. That requires a lot of effort; you need to maje a lot of effort.
  • Dat ferge mair dan geweun. That requires/takes more than normal; you need to do more than normal.
  • Syn hulp is net feraisked. His help is not strictly needed.
  • Dyn eurdeel is net frieged. Your judgement is not required; you need to keep your judgement to yourself.
  • Dat ferge in ooinen miening. That requires a personal opinion; you need to develop/express your own opinion.
  • Der wedt in berch fan dy ferge. A lot is required of you; you need to do a lot.


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