• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents

The suffix -ier derives nouns from nouns. The base can both be Germanic and non-Germanic, in particular French. Examples are koets coach > koetsier coachman and kabaret cabaret > kabaretier comedian. The output can be personal and non-personal names, which may differ both in gender and plurality.

[+]General properties

The suffix -ier can deliver three different output categories: (1) denominal personal names, (2) inhabitant names and (3) non-personal names. The latter category is rather marginal. This qualification applies even more to the set of inhabitant names, which only has one member. Examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
Personal names koets coach koetsier coachman
kassa pay desk kassier cashier
bank bank bankier banker
aventoer adventure aventurier adventurer
beierd carillon beierdier carillon player
brigade brigade brigadier brigadier
finânsjes finance finansier sponsor
gondel gondola gondelier gondolier
griffy chancery griffier clerk
harpoen harpoon harpoenier harpooner
leverânsje supply leveransier supplier
juwiel jewel juwelier jeweller
kanon canon kanonnier gunner
marine navy marinier marine
musket musket musketier musketeer
passaazje passage passazjier passenger
kânsel pulpit kânselier chancellor
kabaret cabaret kabaretier comedian
dûane custom house dûanier border guard
sjanson song sjansonnier singer
Inhabitant names Arabië Arabia Arabier Arab; horse of an Arabian species
Non-personal names kwart fourth part kertier quarter
formule formula formulier form

In case of the personal and inhabitant names the derivations have common gender (de brigadier the brigadier and de Arabier the Arab). The gender of non-personal names is neuter, i.e. it kertier the quarter.

A difference also existst with respect to the selection of a plural morpheme, although the division is different, then. When the derivation is a personal name, it has a plural -s: musketier musketeer > musketiers musketeers, juwelier jeweller > juweliers jewellers. With inhabitant names and non-personal names, the plural is in -en: Arabier Arab > Arabieren Arabs and kertier quarter > kertieren quarters.

[hide extra information]
Two suffixes -ier?

De Haas and Trommelen (1993:181) assume (for Dutch) that there are possibly two suffixes -ier: nouns with common gender with a plural in -s would form one group and neuter nouns with a plural in -en the other. If this idea is taken seriously, then a derivation like portier should have been created by two different suffixes, since there is a lexeme with common gender portier, a personal name meaning porter, and the neuter noun portier car door, hence a non-personal name. However, both words are only formally complex, as a base *port does not exist.

[+]The allomorph -enier

The suffix has an allomorph -enier, which only occurs in falkenier falconer (from falk falcon) and rintenier person of independent means (from rinte interest). Both fit in with the properties of the other derived personal names.

[+]Semantic properties

As has been mentioned, there are three output categories of derivations in -ier. Within the first category, the semantic relation between the base form and the derivation is varied. The following examples may illustrate this:

  • a koetsier coachman is someone who drives a koets coach;
  • a bankier banker is someone who works in a bank bank;
  • a finansier sponsor is someone who takes care of the finânsjes finances;
  • a juwelier jeweller is someone who sells juwielen jewels;
  • a rintenier person of independent means is someone who can live from rinte interest;
  • a passazjier passenger is someone who travels in a vehicle without driving it himself.

This short list shows how varied the relationship between the base noun and the derivation can be. A vague generalisation could be that the derivation is: "someone who does something with {noun}".

The second category, geographical personal names, only contains one word, Arabier Arab, which is "an inhabitant of {noun}". The relation between the bases and the derivations of the third category cannot be generalised.

[+]A Germanic suffix?

According to De Haas and Trommelen (1993:166), the suffix is of Germanic origin. In some respects, however, it has deviating characteristics. It bears the main stress, and it may both be attached to native bases (for example koets coach, kânsel pulpit) and non-native ones as brigade brigade and griffy chancery. As a further complication, the base often does not exist independently. In such cases it must be assumed that the derivation is loaned in its entirety. Clear examples are poelier poulterer, which is related to the French word poule chicken, and kollier necklace, which comes from the French word col neck. The point expecially applies to some formations in which the suffix has the French pronunciation [je:] instead of native [i.ər]. Examples are kabaretier comedian and sjansonnier singer. Words like dûanier border guard and kollier necklace have both pronunciation possibilities. Apart from the pronunciation, the semantic and morphological properties of such words are comparable, and therefore both variants are treated together here.

[+]Phonological properties

The suffix is pronounced as [i.ər], but sometimes also as French [je:], as has just been noted. The suffix bears the main stress of the word, which results in a stress shift: KOETS > koetSIER, KÂNsel > kânseLIER, etcetera. As can be seen from these examples, the suffix is cohering.

Most of the time, the suffix is just added to the noun: koets [kuts] coach > koetsier [kutsi.ər] coachman. Bases ending in a schwa are truncated, as in marine [marinə] navy > marinier [marini.ər] marine and formule [fɔrmylə] formula > formulier [fɔrmyli.ər] form. As a result of the stress shift we see shortening of long vowels, for instance in leverânsje [le:vərɔ:ⁿsjə] supply > leveransier [le:vərɔⁿsi.ər] supplier, or even reduction to schwa, as in juwiel [jəvi.əl] jewel > juwelier [jyvəli.ər] jeweller. In kertier [kəti.ər] quarter, which is derived from kwart fourth part, we even see a further simplification of the onset (and a regular deletion of /r/ before dental /t/).

[+]Morphological potentials

If the derivations figure as the first part of a compound, a linking element-s- added, as in passazjier-s-diel passenger's area. The derivations can be input for other suffixes as well, as in aventurierster female adventurer or -leas in in passazjierleas fleantúch a plane without passengers.

[+]Dutch versus Frisian

The suffix -ier also exists in Dutch, in which it has wider possibilities:

  • Dutch scholier pupil is the compound skoalbern school-child pupil in Frisian (< skoalle school);
  • Dutch winkelier shopkeeper is the compound winkelman winkel-man shopkeeper in Frisian (< winkel shop);
  • Dutch tuinier gardener is a derivation in -er in Frisian: túnker gardener ( < tún garden);
  • Dutch vliegenier aviator is a derivation in -er in Frisian: flean(d)er aviator ( < fleane to fly).
[hide extra information]

This topic is based on De Haas and Trommelen (1993:179-181), De Haas and Trommelen (1993:214) and Hoekstra (1998:101).

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy