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The non-native suffix -abel can be attached to non-native verbal stems to derive adjectives that have the modal meaning of potentiality. An example is reparabel repairable, which is related to the verb reparearje to repair. To the extent that the suffix is productive, the bases likewise show a verbal suffix -ear. Opaque bases exist as well, as do two rare cases with a native adjectival base.

[+]General properties

The suffix -abel can be attached to non-Germanic roots. It primarily creates adjectives on a verbal basis. The base verbs end in the foreign suffix -ear). The suffix -abel is related to French -able and English -able. The corresponding native suffix that combines with native bases is -ber. Here are some examples:

Table 1
Corresponding verb Derivation
akseptearje to accept akseptabel acceptable
reparearje to repair reparabel repairable
transportearje to transport transportabel transportable
profitearje to profit profitabel profitable
presintearje to present presintabel presentable

Within the given context, -abel could be considered as productive. On the other side, it cannot be excluded that quite sa few formations have been loaned directly from French (or Dutch).

The meaning aspect is one of modality and can be described as 'able to be V-ed', comparable with native -ber. The same modal meaning can also be found in a few nominal bases. Examples are professorabel having enough qualities to be appointed as a professor (from professor professor). Comparable, although with an allomorph -iabel, is ministeriabel, which is applied to persons in having the potential of becoming a minister.

Opaque bases exist as well. Examples are formidabel formidable, kapabel capable or abominabel abominable. These formations will have been loaned directly from French, possibly via Dutch, and the meaning contribution of -abel is not quite clear. Direct loans may show considerable adaptations in the base, for instance in risnabel honest, righteous, which originates from French raisonable.

[+]Native bases

The productivity of the process could possibly also be read off from the fact that there are two formations with a native base. Oddly enough, however, this concerns adjectives. The words at hand are djoerabel expensive (from djoer expensive) and poerabel furious (from poer angry). As can be seen, the main function of this variant of -abel suffixation seems to be a strengthening of the meaning of the base. The word poerabel may also be used as an adverb of degree.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix is pronounced as [a:bəl]. It always bears the main stress of the derived word, for example as in aksepTAbel acceptable.

[+]Morphological potential

The adjectives can always be nominalized with the help of the suffix -ens, for example akseptabel > akseptabelens acceptability. A non-native suffix with a comparable function is -iteit, as in akseptabiliteit acceptability.

[hide extra information]

This topic is mainly based on De Haas and Trommelen (1993:340-341). The native bases are briefly dealt with by Visser (2000:183).

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Visser, Willem2000Frjemd wurdt eigener. Oer de âlde Frânske lienwurden yn it FryskIt Beaken62141-218