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Geographical adjectives
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Geographical adjectives are used to express that an entity is related to a geographical unit. Geographical adjectives are formed in three ways. In the default case, the corresponding adjective of the toponym is created by means of suffixation with -s/s/, such as the examples Amsterdams, Gronings, Surinams and Spaans in table 1 show, or –isch/is/, shown in the examples Egyptisch and Syrisch (with truncation of stem-final –e or –en). There are also individual cases of stem allomorphy, as illustrated by Spaans:


Table 1
Toponym Geographical adjective
AmsterdamAmsterdam Amsterdam-sAmsterdamsAmsterdam
GroningenGroningen Groning-sGroningsGroningen
SurinameSurinam Surinaam-sSurinaamsSurinamese
SpanjeSpain Spaan-sSpaansSpanish
EgypteEgypt Egypt-ischEgyptischEgyptian
SyriëSyria Syr-ischSyrischSyrian

The second way in which geographical adjectives for toponyms are formed is by means of suffixation with –s or –isch of the corresponding inhabitant names. This applies to all those toponyms for which there is an inhabitant name formed with a non-native suffix (examples Amerikaans, Cypriotisch and Portugees in table 2) often accompanied by stem allomorphy, or not morphologically derived at all from the toponym, as is the case with the last three examples in table 2:


Table 2
Example no. Toponym Inhabitant Geographical adjective
AmerikaAmerica Amerik-aanAmerikaanAmerican Amerikaan-sAmerikaansAmerican
CyprusCyprus Cypr-iootCypriootCypriot Cypriot-ischCypriotischCypriotic
PortugalPortugal Portug-eesPortugees Portugees
ZwedenSweden ZweedSwede Zweed-sSwedish
RuslandRussia RusRussian Russ-sischRussian
FinlandFinland FinFin Fin-sFinnish

Thirdly, there are adjectives that denote native geographical entities and end in –er, as shown in the follwing examples:

Example 1

Geographical adjective
a. de Heerder politie
de Heerd-er politie
the Heerden police
b. Edammer kaas
Edam-mer cheese
Edam cheese
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    Geographical adjectives in –s or –isch not only refer to a geographical entity, but can also be used to denote the language spoken in a geographical entity. In that case, they are to be interpreted as conversions of these adjectives into neuter nouns, as in het Amerikaansthe American language or het Amsterdamsthe Amsterdam dialect.

    When the base form ends in /s/, this segment will disappear before the suffix –s due to degemination, as the following examples in 3 show:


    Table 3
    Underlying form Geographical adjective
    /Fries-s/ FriesFrisian
    /Canad-ees-s/ CanadeesCanadian

    For native toponyms there are also geographical adjectives in –er (with truncation of the stem). This is shown in table 4.


    Table 4
    Toponym Geographical adjectives
    Groningen Groning-sGronings/ Groning-erGroningerGroningen
    Assen Assen-sAssens/ Ass-erAsserAssen
    Deventer Deventer-sDeventers/ Devent-erDeventerDeventer

    The adjectives in –er appear to have a more restricted use. They can only be used in atrributive position, and are not inflected in this position, unlike other adjectives that end in /ər/, as shown in table 5.


    Table 5
    *Deze koek is Deventer
    *Deventer-e koekDeventere koek Deventer cake / lekker-e koeklekkere koekdelicious cake

    These adjectives are used in phrases to denote the geographical origin, as in Groninger archievenarchives of Groningen, Asser museummuseum in Assen, and Deventer koekcake produced in Deventer. The corresponding geographical adjectives in –s appear to have a wider use. For instance, they can be converted to nouns in order to denote the language spoken in the geographical region, unlike geographical adjectives in –er (het Gronings/ *Groningerthe Groningen dialect. This restricted usability is a reflex of the historical origin of the –er-adjective as a case form of the toponym. When the geographical adjective receives a property interpretation, the adjective in –er cannot be used. For instance, we find Amsterdamse arrogantieAmsterdam arrogance, but not *Amsterdammer arrogantie.

    As shown in table 6, female inhabitant names are formed with these geographical adjectives as bases.


    Table 6
    Toponym Geographical adjective Female inhabitant
    Amerika Amerikaan Amerikaans-eAmerikaanseAmerican
    Zweed Zweeds Zweeds-eZweedseSwedish, N
    Amsterdam Amsterdams Amsterdams-eAmsterdamseAmsterdam
    Egypte Egyptisch Egyptisch-eEgyptischeEgyptian

    A revealing set of words for the analysis of geographical adjectives as being derived from the inhabitant name, and of female names as being derived from the geographical adjective is the following sequence shown in table 7.


    Table 7
    FrieslandFriesland
    Fries/friz/Frisian, N
    Fries/friz-s/Frisian, A
    Friese/friz-s-e/female Frisian

    The underlying form of the inhabitant name FriesFrisian ends in /z/, as the plural form is Friezen/frizən/. This stem-final /z/ disappears before the adjectival suffix –s/s/, due to voice assimilation and degemination. Hence, the inflected form of the adjective Fries is Friese, not *Frieze. Similarly, the female inhabitant name is Friese/frisə/, not *Frieze/frizə/.

    The restricted usability of adjectives in –er can also observed here, as female names such as *AssereAsser-e are impossible. The suffix –isch is always chosen when the toponym ends in –ië, as shown in the examples in table 8:


    Table 8
    Toponym Geographical adjective
    SyriëSyria Syr-ischSyrischSyrian
    GeorgiëGeorgia Georg-ischGeorgischGeorgian
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