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mis-
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mis (/mɪs/) is a non-cohering category-neutral native prefix and verbal particle found in verbs like misbruikento abuse (cf. gebruikento use) and misgrijpento miss one's hold (cf. grijpento grab), in nouns such as misbruikabuse, misverstandmisunderstanding and miskraammiscarriage and in adjectives like mismoedigdejected, depressed and mistroostigdispirited. The meaning is negative, often more specifically wrongly or unsuccessful(ly). In nouns the stress is on the prefix, in adjectives it is on the base, and in verbs it is on the base when mis- functions as a prefix and on mis- when it functions as a particle.

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[+] General information

mis/mɪs/ is originally an adjective and/or adverb, related to the verb missento miss (WNT). It combines mainly with verbs (cf. Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie (1995), Haeseryn 1997, Booij 2002: 116), sometimes behaving as a particle in separable complex verbs (e.g. in missnijdento cut wrongly: je hoeft niet bang te zijn dat die chirurg mis zal snijdenyou don't need to fear that that surgeon will cut wrong), other times as a prefix (e.g. in misbruikento abuse: je hoeft niet bang te zijn dat die chirurg je zal misbruikenyou don't need to fear that that surgeon will abuse you; Haeseryn 1997, Smessaert 2013:74, 77). Bases are usually simplex native verbs, nominal and adjectival mis- formations usually have a verbal origin.

[+] mis as verbal particle

mis as verbal particle usually takes simplex native verbs as basis. The result is a separable complex verb, e.g. mislopenwalk the wrong way (< lopenwalk) as in nu lopen we misnow we walk wrongnow we're taking the wrong way. Occasionally the argument structure of the verb can change: simplex lopenwalk is intransitive, only allowing for measure phrases (loopt ze drie kilometer, tien minuten, of een hele marathon?does she run three kilometers, ten minutes, or a whole marathon) (there is no direct equivalent for English I'll walk you home with lopen). The mis- formation mislopen, however, can take a human direct object as in ik ben je misgelopen(I planned to meet you) but I missed you.

The semantic contribution of the particle is badly, wrongly.

If mis functions as a particle, it carries stress: zorg dat je niet misloopt[zɔrχ dɑt jə nit ˈmɪs.lopt]care that you not wrong-walksee that you don't take the wrong way.

[+] mis as verbal prefix

mis as verbal prefix usually takes simplex native verbs as well, e.g. misleidento mislead < leidento lead. New forms are extremely rare. Verbs prefixed with mis- lack the ge- prefix in the past participle: misleid rather than *misgeleid. A verb such as mishandelento ill-treat, to batter is probably not derived from simplex handelento act but rather from prefixed behandelento treat via affix substitution(Smessaert 2013: 99). Verbs with the prefix mis- are usually transitive, irrespective of the transitive properties of the base verb, but in the rare cases that mis- is attached to an ergative verb, the result is ergative as well (e.g. mislukkento fail) (Haas 1993: 139). Various mis- verbs are obligatorily reflexive, e.g. misrekenento miscalculate: ik moet me misrekend hebbenI must me miscalculated haveI must have made a calculation error.

If mis functions as a prefix, stress is on the base: ik ben mishandeld[ɪk bεn mɪs.ˈhɑn.delt]I am mistreatedI have been ill-treated.

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Prefixal mis- is more popular in Belgium than in the Netherlands (ANS). Certain verbs with mis- are defective: miszeggen (< zeggen) occurs only as a past particle (ik heb toch niets miszegd?I have yet nothing mis-saidI didn't say anything wrong, didn't I?).

Occasionally, a form allows for use and analysis both as prefix and as a particle: misrijden (< rijdento travel) is ergative when it is a particle we zijn misgeredenwe are mis-drivenwe took the wrong way but reflexive when it is a prefix we hebben ons misredenwe have us mis-drivenwe took the wrong way.

[+] mis in nouns and adjectives

Nouns such as misbakselmonster, misfire (cf. bakkento bake), misdaadcrime (cf. daaddeed and doento do), misgreepmistake, blunder (cf. grijpento grab), misinterpretatiemisinterpretation, miskoopbad bargain (cf. kopento buy), misbruikabuse and misvormingmalformation are probably deverbal, but miskraammiscarriage is a genuine denominal mis- derivation according to ANS(Haeseryn 1997); Haas (1993: 147) is hesitant to propose an analysis. Mismanagementmismanagement may be a loan. In nouns with mis-, the stress is on the prefix.

There is a small group of adjectives with mis- such as mismoedigdejected, depressed and mistroostigdispirited that are probably derived from nouns.

[+] Phonological properties

mis- is a non-cohering prefix, forming a prosodic domain that is separate from the base it attaches to. Syllabification respects the morphological boundary, so misoogstmis-harvestfailure of the harvest is realized as [ˈmɪs.oχst] rather than [*ˈmɪ.soχst], notwithstanding the Maximal Onset Principle. The /s/ of mis- can assimilate in voice to a following voiced consonant, so in allegro speech a formation such as misdragento misbehave can be pronounced like [ˈmɪz.dra.ɣən]. On the other hand, there are also cases where a voiced consonant following mis- becomes voiceless, e.g. misvattingmisconception may be realized as [ˈmɪs.fɑ.tɪŋ].

References:
  • Booij, Geert2002The morphology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie1995Het Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT)
  • Smessaert, Hans2013Basisbegrippen morfologieBasisbegrippen taalkundeLeuven/Den HaagACCO
  • Smessaert, Hans2013Basisbegrippen morfologieBasisbegrippen taalkundeLeuven/Den HaagACCO
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