• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents

The suffix -isch /is/ attaches to nouns or roots to form adjectives such as alfabetisch alphabetic, morfologisch morphological, genetisch genetic, komisch funny or filmisch cinematic. In complex bases, the relation is often one of affix replacement rather than addition, compare kritiek criticism - kritisch critical. The direction of the derivation cannot always be ascertained. Other instances do not show any relation to other existing words, as can be seen in forms like drastisch drastic or sporadisch sporadic.

The meaning relation between the base and the adjective is diverse; common variants are 'of X nature' (symbolisch symbolic) or 'having to do with X' (oceanisch oceanic).

[+]Productivity, stratum, input

Adjectivization with the suffix -isch is a common process. However, its productivity is difficult to ascertain because it mostly occurs with non-native bases or roots, which form a restricted, even if large, list. Yet, we can state correspondences such as that -isch adjectives are systematically available for nouns ending in -ist, e.g. autist autist > autistisch autistic as well as for many nouns ending in -iek, e.g. atletiek athletics - atletisch athletic.

The only attestested -isch adjectives with Germanic bases are filmisch cinematic and the obsolete afgodisch idolatrous.

[+]Phonological properties

-isch is a cohering suffix and does not bear stress. It attracts the main stress of the base, which ends up in the position before the suffix: drama /'drama/ drama > dramatisch /dra'matis/ dramatic. If the base ends in schwa, this vowel is deleted before -isch: methode method > methodisch methodical. Bases of -isch adjectives exhibit various alternations typical of non-native stem allomorphy, as shown in the following pairs:

apostel apostle > apostolisch apostolic

chaos chaos > chaotisch chaotic

demon /'demɔn/ demon > demonisch /de'monis/ demonic (in this case, the final vowel of the stem is lengthened)

drama drama > dramatisch dramatic, kameleon chameleon > kameleontisch chameleon-like, energie energy > energetisch energetic

fragment fragment > fragmentarisch fragmented.

[+]Morphological potential

Adjectives in -isch are not easily available for further derivation. An exception are forms with negative prefixes such as on-: onlogisch illogical, onkritisch uncritical. Forms with non-native prefixes, such as asymmetrisch asymmetric, have usually been borrowed with their prefixes. Nominalizations of -isch adjectives are rare, but there is a systematic correlation between adjectives in -isch and nouns in -iek:

kritisch critical - kritiek criticism

tragisch tragic - tragiek tragedy

problematisch problematic - problematiek difficulty.