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-ig (verbal)

-ig ( /əγ/) is a Germanic unproductive cohering suffix found in verbs. Often the base is nominal (e.g. pijnig to hurt < pijn pain). There is also a number of cases like beschadigen to damage (< schade damage) where -ig co-occurs with a verbalizing prefix such as be-: here it is unclear whether it is the suffix that determines the category of the whole or the prefix (or rather that the combination should be analyzed as a circumfix).


-ig ( /əγ/) is a Germanic suffix found in verbs. It is unproductive Haas (1993: 347-48), Haeseryn (1997:, Smessaert (2013: 58). For various formations it is clear that the basis is nominal, e.g. pijnig to hurt (< pijn pain), stenig to lapidate, to stone (< steen stone), eindig to end (< eind(e) end) and kruisig to crucify (< kruis cross). It is less clear for cases such as heiligen to sanctify (< heil hail): analysis as conversion of the derived adjective heilig holy (with adjectival -ig) seems to be more appropriate. The same seems to hold for cases such as zondig to sin (< zonde sin or zondig sinfull).

The vowel in -ig ( /əγ/) is schwa, so it never bears stress. The suffix is cohering: syllabification does not respect the morphological structure. If the base ends in schwa, it is deleted as a consequence of prevocalic schwa-deletion: zondig sinful (< zonde sin).

The suffix also co-occurs with verbalizing prefixes such as be-, e.g. in bezichtig to view (< zicht view; *zichtig does not exist) and beledig to insult (< leed sorrow) (ledig empty does exist but is semantically unrelated). vereeuwigen to immortalise, on the other hand, seems de-adjectival (eeuwig eternal) rather than denominal (cf. eeuw century).

  • 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
  • Smessaert, Hans2013Basisbegrippen morfologieBasisbegrippen taalkundeLeuven/Den HaagACCO