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1.3.3.Denominal nouns

Suffixation of nouns to form new nouns can be achieved by means of a number of endings, both Germanic and non-Germanic. We start with a description of diminutive formation, which is followed by the discussion of several suffixes by means of which person nouns can be derived.

[+]  I.  Diminutive form

The diminutive suffix -je and its allomorphs is probably the most productive nominal affix (apart from the plural affixes discussed in 1.1.1). The precise phonetic realization of the diminutive suffix depends on phonological properties of the stem.

Example 231
a. The suffix -etje is used after the nasal consonants /n/, /m/ or /ŋ/ or the liquids /l/ or /r/, if they are immediately preceded by a short vowel carrying stress.
b. The suffix -tje is used with words ending in /n/ or a liquid, provided that they are not preceded by a short stressed vowel; it also attaches to words ending in a long vowel, a diphthong or a schwa.
c. The suffix -pje is only found after words ending in /m/, again provided that the latter are not immediately preceded by a stressed short vowel.
d. The suffix -kje is found after the unstressed suffix-like ending -ing, which is pronounced as /ɪŋ/ ( koning/ kóninkje'little king'). Exceptions are cases in which the syllable preceding -ing is unstressed (cf. wándelingetje'little walk') and person nouns derived by the affix -ling ( léerlingetje'little pupil'); these always get the ending -etje.
e. In the remaining cases, the suffix -je is used.

Examples are given in Table 21; for further details on the formation of diminutives, we refer the reader to De Haas & Trommelen (1993) and Haeseryn et al. (1997).

Table 21: Diminutive forms
suffix nominal stem derived form translation
-etje kam kammetje little comb
  pen pennetje little pen
  bel belletje little bell
  kar karretje little cart
  slang slangetje little snake
-tje tuin tuintje little garden
  zaal zaaltje little hall
  deur deurtje little door
  la laatje little drawer
  kooi kooitje little cage
  tante tantetje little aunt
-pje dakraam dakraampje little skylight
  geheim geheimpje little secret
  storm stormpje little storm
-kje haring harinkje little herring
  koning koninkje little king
-je dak dakje little roof
  aap aapje little monkey
[+]  II.  Person nouns

Some of the person suffixes discussed in Section can also take a nominal base: the suffix -er, for example, can be added to a (typically non-human) noun to form another noun denoting a person; cf., e.g., Van Santen (1992). We will call these derived nouns “neutral” person nouns, as opposed to the feminine person nouns that will be discussed shortly. Both the type of input noun and the semantic relation between the input noun and the derived noun vary.
      The input noun of the “neutral” person names can be abstract like wetenschap'science', concrete like kluis'hermitage' or molen'mill', and it can even be an abbreviation like PvdA (political party) or AOW (pension law). The referents of these derived nouns are all in some relation with the denotation of the base noun. The noun wetenschapper denotes the set of persons practicing science, kluizenaar'hermit' denotes the set of persons living in a secluded environment, and an AOW-er is someone who is getting a pension on the basis of the old age pension law.
      A more systematic set is constituted by the geographical person names derived from geographical place names. Here we give examples derived by means of the suffixes -aan and -ees; see Section A1.3.3 sub II for a complete overview of the affixes deriving geographical person nouns. Another systematic group is the group of feminine person nouns derived from “neutral” person nouns by means of the suffixes -in, -e, and -es (among others).

Table 22: Denominal person nouns
person noun nominal stem derived form
wetenschap‘science’ wetenschapper‘scientist’
  PvdA‘labor party’
AOW‘old age pension’
PvdA-er‘labor party politician’
AOW-er‘old age pensioner’
geographical-er/aan/ees Amsterdam
feminine -in/es/e vriend‘friend’
voogdes(woman) guardian’
studente‘female student’
[+]  III.  Other cases

In addition to the more productive affixes discussed above, there are a number of nonproductive endings, each effecting a specific semantic change. The most frequent of these endings are listed in the following subsections.

[+]  A.  -dom

Derived nouns ending in -dom denote a group of entities each of which belongs to the denotation of the input noun, as in example (232a&b), or to an area (historically) reigned by or governed by the entity denoted by the input noun, as in example (232c&d).

Example 232
a. mens 'human being'
a'. mensdom 'human race'
b. priester 'priest'
b'. priesterdom 'priesthood'
c. prins 'prince'
c'. prinsdom 'principality'
d. bisschop 'bishop'
d'. bisdom 'bishopric'
[+]  B.  -schap

A noun followed by the ending -schap can refer either to a certain capacity, function or rank, as in the examples in (233a-c), or to a branch of industry, as in (233d-g).

Example 233
a. moederschap 'motherhood'
b. vijandschap 'enmity'
c. leiderschap 'leadership'
d. agentschap 'branch office'
e. genootschap 'society'
f. landbouwschap 'agricultural board'
g. waterschap 'district water board'
[+]  C.  ge-N- te

This compound affix typically changes an individual noun, denoting a particular entity, into a mass noun, denoting a group of such entities.

Example 234
a. berg 'mountain'
a'. gebergte 'mountain range'
b. boef 'villain'
b'. geboefte 'scum'
c. been 'bone'
c'. gebeente 'bones/skeleton'
d. steen 'stone'
d'. gesteente 'rock'
e. vogel 'bird'
e'. gevogelte 'fowl'
  • 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
  • Santen, Ariane van1992Semantische factoren bij de vorming van denominale persoonsnamen op -<i>er</i>Spektator21189-201