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  • Frisian
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-esse is a stressed, unproductive, cohering suffix that creates nouns denoting female persons from male professional function names. As they are of common gender, -esse derivations take the definite article de the. An example is regint regent > regintesse female regent.

Other suffixes that form female nouns are -e, -inne, -ske and -ster. Note also the suffix -e that derives female inhabitant names, however on the basis of an adjective.

[+]General properties

The suffix -esse derives female nouns on the basis of male function names. For example, if a certain function is called fâd guardian, then its female counterpart is called fâdesse female guardian. The derivations have common gender, which, among others, implies that they select de the as the definite article. The suffix is unproductive.

Some further examples with the suffix -esse are listed below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
prins prince prinsesse princess
baron baron baronesse baroness
koster sexton kosteresse female sexton
regint regent regintesse female regent
sûnder sinner sûnderesse female sinner
If the base ends in -aris, the part -is is truncated before suffigation. Examples are bibliotekaris librarian > bibliotekaresse female librarian and jubilaris male person celebrating his jubilee > jubilaresse female person celebrating her jubilee.
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Dutch influence

Probably under the influence of Dutch, some speakers also take agent nouns as input that have been derived by the suffix -er. Such bases have a verbal core; see the topic on the suffix -er. This results in words like ?sjongeres (based on sjonger singer, which in turn derives from the verb sjonge to sing), ?lêzeres (based on lêzer female reader < lêze to read) or even moardenares. The last example is quite clearly inspired by the Dutch allomorph -aar, and -es for its functioning as basis in forming a Dutch female noun. That these formations are under Dutch influence can also be detected from their obligatory short form -es. The Frisian suffix has an extra schwa: -esse ( [ɛsə]). Frisian prefers the suffix -ster to derive female nouns from verbs. However, some Dutch formations are fully integrated nowadays, as for example lerares female teacher.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix -esse [ɛsə] bears the main stress of the derivation, as in baroNEsse baroness. As can be detected from this transcription, the suffix is cohering, i.e. syllabification does not respect the morphological boundary.

[+]Morphological potential

The suffix selects -en as its plural ending, e.g. prinsesse princess > prinsessen princesses or bibliotekaresse female librarian > bibliotekaressen female librarians. Diminutives are with -ke, i.e. prinseske little princess.

Formations with -esse can hardly be input for further derivational processes, but the similative suffixes -eftich and -ich are conceivable, the latter with deletion of the final schwa of -esse, viz. prinsesse-eftich princess-like and prinsessich princess-like.There are no restrictions in compounding, cf. prinsesseklean princess-clothes or prinsessekrûd princess-herb eupatorium canabium and the like.

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This topic is mainly based on Hoekstra (1998:93). The suffix is also shortly mentioned in Tamminga (1973:55).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1973Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IIA.J. Osinga