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Nominalisation - Person names

Afrikaans has a number of (native, nativised and non-native) suffixes for coining person names and inhabitant names. These suffixes differ in input/output category, productivity, etc. Generally speaking, person names are unmarked for gender, since gender is not a grammatical feature of Afrikaans (except for pronouns). A person name is therefore in principal gender neutral (e.g. werk·erwork·NMLZworker), unless it is juxtaposed with a feminine counterpart (e.g. werk·sterwork·NMLZ.Ffemale worker). Such gender marking is realised through either suffixation (as in the aforementioned examples), or compounding (e.g. leeu+mann·etjielion+male·DIMmale lion, or wyfie+katfemale+cattabby (cat); also see the topic Compounding - Person names). However, note that feminine marking can be considered by and large obsolete and unproductive in Afrikaans (Combrink 1990:15), except in cases where gender is relevant, e.g. in discussions on single-sex schools, or whether the time that was run by an athlete was a male or female, etc.

An example of a native suffix forming person names is -aar, of a nativised suffix is -er, and of a non-native suffix is -or.

Example 1

a. eie·n·aar
b. minn·aar
Example 2

a. werk·er
b. swemm·er
Example 3

a. lekt·or
b. aggress·or

Native (e.g. -ster) and nativised (e.g. -es) feminine-marking suffixes are either nominalisers, or category neutral when they append to existing person names, while non-native suffixes (e.g. the suffix -rise) are nominalisers:

Example 4

a. werk·ster
female worker
b. swem·ster
female swimmer
Example 5

a. eie·n·ar·es
female owner
b. baron·es
Example 6

a. lekt·rise
female lecturer
b. akt·rise

Inhabitant names are gender neutral, and are formed with either native suffixes (e.g. -aard), nativised suffixes (e.g. -er), or non-native suffixes (e.g. -iet):

Example 7

a. Spanj·aard
Spanje + -aard
b. Savoj·aard
Savoje + -aard
Example 8

a. Nederland·er
person from The Netherlands
b. Algiers·er
person from Algiers
Example 9

a. Jemen·iet
b. Durban·iet
[hide extra information]

In addition to the abovementioned morphological strategies to indicate gender and inhabitants, it could also be expressed periphrastically, e.g.:

Example 10

(synonym for )
vroulike lektor
female lecturer
Example 11

inwoner van Botswana
inhabitant of Botswana

Feminine marking is still more productive in Dutch than in Afrikaans. Compare for example the following Dutch cases that don't have equivalents in Afrikaans:

Example 12

a. wandel·aar·ster
female walker
b. student·e
female student
c. histor·ica
female historian

The productivity of Afrikaans suffixes forming person names, have not been investigated thoroughly yet. According to Kempen (1969:371-372), -er is the most productive suffix forming person names, and is in complementary distribution with -aar that occurs after stems ending in a coronal consonant preceded by a schwa. When -er occurs with stems ending in /r/ or /əi/, the interfix -d- is most of the time compulsory (e.g. in leerto learn > leer·d·erlearner; bevryto emancipate > bevry·d·eremanicipator). However, this distribution is not completely phonologically governed, since there are some nouns in -aar and -d-er with stems of a different phonological make up, such as ler·aarpreacher, or dien·d·erpoliceman.

[+] Schema(ta) and/or paradigm(s)

The following general, high-level schemata can be identified for derived person names:

  1. [[a](V)[b](NMLZ)](N) ↔ [person/agent who SEM(V)] (e.g. werk·erworker)
  2. [[a](ADJ)[b](NMLZ)](N) ↔ [person with property SEM(ADJ)] (e.g. wreed·aardbrute, cruel person)
  3. [[a](N)[b](CN)](N) ↔ [person related to SEM(N)] (e.g. winkel·iershopkeeper)
  4. [[a](N)[b](CN)](N) ↔ [female counterpart of SEM(N)] (e.g. baron·esbaroness)
  5. [[a](PR)[b](CN)](N) ↔ [inhabitant of SEM(PR)] (e.g. Nederland·erperson from The Netherlands)
  6. [[a](PR)[b](CN)](N) ↔ [follower of SEM(PR)] (e.g. Luther·aanLutheran)
  7. [[a](root)[b](NMLZ)](N) ↔ [person related to SEM(root)] (e.g. lekt·orlecturer)

Some of the suffixes that create person names, also derive nouns denoting objects, e.g. -er in werk·erworker is also found in klits·er(egg) beater; and -or in lekt·orlecturer is also found in indukt·orinductor.

[+] Native suffixes

The native suffixes found in nouns that denote persons of male or unspecified gender are listed below; many of the nouns derived with these suffixes can also have an object noun reading. Follow the links to see discussion of the individual suffixes.

Table 1
Suffix Base category Base Derived form
-aard A gierigmiserly gierig·aardmiser
PR (only two attested cases) SpanjeSpain Spanj·aardSpaniard (Other example is Savoj·aardSavoyard)
-and (allomorph of -end) V (only two attested cases) heil < German heilento heal heil·andsaviour (Other example is vy·and < Proto-Germanic *fijēn-to hate)
-e ADJ blindblind blind·eblind person
-en PR (only one attested case) ChristusChrist Christ·enChristian
N (only one attested case) heideheath heid·enheathen
-end V (only one attested case) vry < Proto-Germanic *frijōn-to woo someone vri·endfriend
-erd (allomorph of -aard) A stoutnaughty stout·erdnaughty child
V stinkto stink/smell stink·erdsmelly person
-erik A (only two attested cases) domstupid domm·erikstupid (person) [pejorative] (Other example is stomm·erikfathead)
-ie (diminutive suffix, and all its allomorphs) A domstupid domm·iestupid (person) [ameliorative]
-ling (often combining with interfix -e-) A jonkyoung jong·e·lingyoungster
V huurto hire huur·lingmercenary; hireling
N gunsfavour gunst·e·lingfavourite
NUM tweetwo twee·lingtwins

There are four native suffixes for feminine marking, of which only one (i.e. -ster) is semiproductive.

Table 2
Suffix Base category Base Derived form
-e N orrelisorganist orrelist·efemale organist
-egge N (only one attested case) diefthief diev·eggefemale thief
-in N heldhero held·inheroine
-ster V tiktype tik·sterfemale typist

[hide extra information]

In the case of be·ampt·eofficial, functionary one might be tempted to analyse the word as consisting of a circumfix be-...-e, since *beamp is not a verb in Afrikaans. However, the WNT indicates that the adjective be·ambtprovided with an official position was attested in 17th century Dutch, and the Dutch word be·ambt·eofficial, functionary is therefore derived using the same -e suffix as in blind·eblind person mentioned above.

[+] Nativised suffixes

A number of suffixes originated in Latin and Ancient Greek, but underwent such significant changes that they can be considered nativised. Such suffixes can combine, for instance, with lexical items from the native and non-native stratum.

Table 3
Suffix Base category Base Derived form
-aar (often combining with the interfixes -en- and -n-; allomorph of -er) V minto love minn·aarlover
PR HongaryeHungary Hong·aarHungarian
N sondesin sond·aarsinner
-aner (concatenation of non-native -aan and native -er) PR ItaliëItaly Itali·anerItalian
-er (often combining with the interfixes -d- and -t-) V wenwin wenn·erwinner
PR Madrid Madrid·t·erMadridian
P draad sitwire sitto sit on the fence draadsitt·erfence-sitter
NUM tienten tien·erteenager
-ier (often combining with interfix -en-) N winkelstore/shop winkel·iershop-keeper
V vliegto fly vlie·ën·ierpilot
PR (only one attested case) ArabiëArabia Arab·ierArab
root barb- < Latin barbabeard barb·ierbarber
-is (with allomorph -ist in PL and F constructions; often combining with interfix -en-) N alkoholalcohol alkohol·isalcoholic
PR BoeddhaBuddha Boeddh·isBuddhist
root kompon- < Latin componereto put together kompon·iscomposer
-(oh)olis (confix from alkohol·isalcoholic) N werkwork werk·olis or werk·oholisworkaholic
-yn N chirurgsurgeon chirurg·ynship's doctor
PR ArgentiniëArgentina Argent·ynArgentine
root praktis- < Latin practicareto do, perform, practice praktis·ynpractitioner

The only feminine denoting suffix that is nativised, is -es, which is historically related to Latin -issa. Nativised -es is mainly in competition with native -ster.

Table 4
Suffix Base category Base Derived form
-es N baronbaron baron·esbaroness
Derived N, ending in -er dans·erdancer dans·er·esfemale dancer

[+] Non-native suffixes

A large number of non-native suffixes that form person names, can be identified in Afrikaans. However, very few of these are productive in Afrikaans, with the exception of those that combine with proper names to form toponymns, etc.

Table 5
Suffix Base category Base Derived form
-aal root gener- < Latin genus, gener-kind gener·aalgeneral
PR Provence Provens·aalinhabitant of Provence
-aan (often combining with the interfix -i-) root veter- < Latin vetus, veter-old veter·aanveteran
PR MeksikoMexico Meksik·aanMexican
-aat root advok- < Latin advocareto summon for counsel advok·aatadvocate
PR AsiëAsia Asi·aatAsian
-ak root (only one attested case) mani- < Greek maniamadness mani·akmaniac
-andus (with allomorph -endus) root doktor- < Latin doctoroto award a doctorate doktor·andusperson working towards a doctoral degree
-ans root (only one attested case) ordon- < Latin ōrdō, ōrdin-to order ordinn·ansordinance
-ant root remonstr-< Latin re-back; again + monstrareto show remonstr·antremonstrant
N debuutdebut debut·antdebutant
-aris root sekret- < Latin secernereto set apart sekret·arissecretary (functionary)
N biblio·teeklibrary biblio·tek·arislibrarian
-arius root ordin- < Latin ordo, ordin-to order ordin·ariusordinariate
-as (with allomorph -ast when followed by other morphemes) root entoes- < Greek enin + theosgod entoes·i·asenthusiast
-eel root krimin- < Latin crimenindictment; crime krimin·eelcriminal
-een PR ChiliChile Chil·eenChilean
-ees PR Angola Angol·eesAngolan
-eet root atl- < Greek athleinto contest atl·eetathlete
-ein root kapt-, allomorph of kapit- < Latin caputhead kapt·eincaptain
PR (only one attested case) Rome Rom·einRoman
-ent (with allomorph -ënt in words like pasiëntpasient) root dos- < Latin docereto teach dos·entdocent; lecturer
-êr root vision- < Latin videreto see vision·êrvisionary
N miljoenmillion miljoen·êrmillionaire
-eur root massa < probably Arabic massato touch, handle mass·eurmasseur
-iën root elektr- < Greek elektronamber elektr·is·iën
-iër root ager < Latin agerfield agrar·iëragrarian
PR Zimbabwe Zimbabw·iërbeggar
-iet PR Durban Durban·ietDurbanite
-ikus root histor- < Greek historwise man histor·ikushistorian
-ino root baller- < Greek ballizeinto dance baller·inomale ballet dancer
-ioen root (only two attested cases) spi- < Old French espierto spy sp·ioenspy (Other example is kamp·ioenchampion)
-liet root prose- < Greek protitoward + root of eleusesthaito be going to come prose·lietproselyte
-oos root (only two attested cases) virtu- < Latin vir·tusmanliness; excellence virtu·oosvirtuoso
-oot root sel- < Greek zeloszeal sel·ootzealot, fanatic
-tor (with allomorph -sor (as in sen·sorsensor), -toor (as in pas·toorpastor, and -oor (as in maj·oormajor)) root modera- < Latin moderomitigate (or sens- < Latin sentioto feel) modera·tormoderator (or sens·orsensor)
-urg (sometimes combining with the interfix -t-) root metall- < Greek metallonmetal metall·urgmetallurgist

A few non-native suffixes are used to derive female person names, all of which are by and large unproductive in Afrikaans.

Table 6
Suffix Base category Base Derived form
-a root (with masculine form ending in -arius, -ikus, -anda, and -enda) prim·ari- < Latin primariuschief, principal prim·ari·achief female delegate; head-girl
N sultansultan sultan·amother, wife, mistress, sister, or daughter of a sultan
-esse root (with masculine form ending in -aris) sekret·ar- < Latin secretariussecretary (functionary) sekret·ar·esse(female) secretary
-ette (with allomorph -et) root brun- < Latin brunusbrown brun·etbrunette
PR Paul (male first name) Paul·ette (female first name)
-euse root mass- < probably Arabic massato touch, handle mass·eusemasseusse
-ina root baller- < Greek ballizeinto dance baller·inaballerina
PR Paul (male first name) Paul·ina (female first name)
-ine root blond- < Latin blondusyellow blond·inea blond(ine)
PR Paul (male first name) Paul·ine (female first name)
-trise (often combining with the interfix -a-; also with allomorph -rise) root (with masculine form ending in -eur or -tor) ak- < Latin agodo, act, make ak·triseactress

[hide extra information]

The following Dutch suffixes are not present in Afrikaans:

  • -air (as in diamant·airdiamond dealer)
  • (as in evacu·éevacuee)
  • -ier (as in cabaret·iermale stand-up comedian)
  • -ière (as in cabaret·ièrefemale stand-up comedian)
  • -t (as in fantas·tdreamer)
  • -us (as in anonym·usanonym)

[+] Confixes and affixoids

Person names are also formed through (neo-)classical compounding, with confixes like the following:

Example 13

-faag  : geo·faag geophagist
Example 14

-fiel  : hidro·fiel hydrophile
Example 15

-foob  : tegn·o·foob technophobe
Example 16

-goog  : peda·goog pedagogue
Example 17

-graaf  : foto·graaf photographer
Example 18

-klas  : ikon·o·klas iconoclast
Example 19

-kraat  : tegn·o·kraat technocrat
Example 20

-loog  : teo·loog theologist
Example 21

-maan  : megalo·maan megalomaniac
Example 22

-noom  : astro·noom astronomer
Example 23

-nout  : astro·nout astronaut
Example 24

-paat  : psig·o·paat psychopath
Example 25

-soof  : teo·soof theosophist

From the Germanic stratum, there are three gender-neutral suffixoids that form person names, namely:

Example 26

-kundige expert  : plant+kundige plant+expert botanist
Example 27

-mens human  : natuur+mens nature+human nature lover
Example 28

-persoon person  : beskerm+persoon protect+person patron

The affixoid man (functioning either as prefixoid or suffixoid) lost its original gender-neutral meaning of human, person, and is used in modern Afrikaans to form masculine person names, e.g.:

Example 29

a. man-  : man+student man+student male student
b. -man  : koerant+man newspaper+man pressman; male journalist

Die gender-opposite affixoid vrouwoman functions in exactly the same way to form female person names, e.g.:

Example 30

a. vrou-  : vrou·e+student woman·LK+student female student
b. -vrou  : koerant+vrou newspaper+woman presswoman; female journalist

Consider also the following opposite pairs of suffixoids and prefixoids:

Example 31

a. tiener+seun teenager+boy male teenager
b. skoon+seun clean+son son-in-law
c. seun·s+kind boy·LK+child young boy
Example 32

meisie; dogtergirl; daughter
a. tiener+meisie teenager+girl female teenager
b. skoon+dogter clean+daughter daughter-in-law
c. meisie+kind girl+child young girl
Example 33

heer; damegentleman; lady
a. beskerm+heer protect+gentleman male patron
b. beskerm+dame protect+lady female patron
c. dame+student lady+student female student
  • Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie1995Het Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT)
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