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-heid, -ens and -ichheid
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The most prominent suffixes for deriving nouns from adjectives are -ens, -heid and -ichheid. These suffixes are closely related, and will therefore be dealt with in a single topic. The former two suffixes have, to a large extent, the same function and distribution. Iensumheid and iensumens, for instance, both mean loneliness. Whereas both suffixes can convey the meaning of the adjective to a noun, -heid may have the additional feature that it creates concrete, countable nouns denoting an object that displays the property of the adjective. For example, from the adjective mooglikpossible, both mooglikens and mooglikheid may be formed, with a joint abstract meaning which could be described as 'state of being possible'. Next to this, mooglikheid may also mean 'something that is possible'. In contrast to this semantic extension, -heid is subject to a phonological restriction: it may not attach to bases with a stressed final syllable. One way of overcoming this is to use the suffix -ichheid instead. However, -ichheid primarily induces a collective meaning on the derived noun. The noun swietichheid, for example, means sweets.

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[+] The suffixes -heid and -ens

The suffixes -heid and -ens can be used to nominalize an adjective. The adjective twatalichbilingual, for instance, can be nominalized into twatalichheid or twataligens, both meaning bilingualism. Both suffixes also occur side by side in words like minsklikens/minsklikheidhumanity, ferantwurdlikheid/ferantwurdlikensresponsibility, dúdlikheid/dúdlikensclearness, etc. These nominalized adjectives in -ens and -heid always have common gender, i.e. they take the definite article dethe, cf. de/*it tinkberheid, de/*it tinkberenspossibility.

Although -ens developed before 1500 (from the suffix -nisse, see Van der Meer (1988:364)), Hoekstra and Hut (2003:24) show that in Middle Frisian texts - a corpus consisting of a million tokens from the period between 1550-1800 - only twenty -ens-derivations can be found, all from the end of the Middle Frisian period. Hence, it may be considered as a relatively new suffix. Attestations with -heid are often older, according to Van der Meer (1988:366).

In contrast to its spelling, -heid is pronounced with a short [[i], as [hit]. The suffix -ens shows more possibilities. One is that it undergoes nasalization, which results in the sequence [ə̃s]. The other choice is to drop the schwa, which turns /n/ to a syllabic consonant /n̩/. This syllabic /n̩/ may then undergo regressive place assimilation. The upshot is that we have three possible ways of pronunciation, not only [n̩s] but also [m̩s] and [ŋ̩s], depending on the preceding consonant.

[+] Input restrictions

Although for some words it applies that -ens and -heid occur side by side, this does not mean that the suffixes are completely interchangeable. It appears that the stress of the last syllable of the base is an important factor: if stressed, it only allows -ens; the suffix -heid is excluded in that case. For example, a word like barBAARSKbarbarous has its primary stress on the last syllable. Hence, it may be followed by -ens: barbaarskensbarbarity. On the other hand, *barbaarskheid is unacceptable in Frisian. Correspondingly, monosyllabic adjectives, whose only syllable is automatically stressed, only select -ens, as is illustrated in the table below:


Table 1
base derivation
moaibeautiful MOAIens/*moaiheidbeauty
sleaunegligent SLEAUwens/*sleauheidinertia
bernskchildish BERNskens/*bernskheiddotage
banganxious BANGens/*bangheidanxiety
kreashandsome KREAzens/*kreasheidbeauty
slûchsleepy SLÛgens/*slûchheidsleepiness

Adjectives like oranjeorange or ferealein love also follow this pattern. On the surface, they end in a schwa, but as this is truncated in the nominalization process, these formations follow the rule of the stressed final syllable. Thus, they take -ens: oranjensextent of being orange and ferealensamorousness.

[hide extra information]
x -ens as an alternative for non-native -iteit

Non-native adjectives, usually having stress on their last syllable, may also opt for -ens, as an alternative to the non-native suffix -iteit. So, the adjective banaalbanal may not only be nominalized to banaliteitbanality, but to banalens as well. Because of the final stress of the base, *banaalheid is excluded. A more detailed comparison of the suffixes -ens and -iteit can be found in a separate section of the topic on -iteit.

The only exception to the stress rule are some settled dutchisms which have monosyllabic bases and nevertheless end in -heid; see De Haan and Hoekstra (1993:26). The most important are the following:


Table 2
Base form Derived noun in -heid
frijfree FRIJheidfreedom
wiertrue WIERheidtruth
wiiswise WIISheidwisdom
[hide extra information]
x Stress shift

In the case of adjectives ending in -leas, the stress often shifts to that suffix: SOARgeleascareless > soargeLEAzenscarefreeness. The derivation with -leas has primary stress in its base (SOARgeleas), but since the stress shifts to the final syllable in case of nominalization, the noun has the affix -ens.

If the last syllable does not bear primary stress, the restriction does not hold, that is, both suffixes are available in principle. However, a certain preference for one of them can be observed. Monomorphematic adjectives prefer -ens. This boils down to those adjectives ending in the sequences -el, -em, -en and -er, all containing a schwa. In the following examples, the reduced degree of acceptability is represented by the sign ?:


Table 3
base derivation
telplump mûtelensplumpness (cf. ?mûtelheid)
stikemsecret stikemenssecrecy (cf. ?stikemheid)
neakennude neakenensnudity (cf. ?neakenheid)
meagerskinny meagerensleanness (cf. ?meagerheid)

On the other hand, suffixed adjectival bases have a certain preference for the ending -heid. This concerns, for instance, derivations with the suffixes -ich, -lik, -ber and -sum. However, formations with -ens are certainly possible here:


Table 4
base first order derivation second order derivation
dizehaze dizichhazy dizichheidhaziness (also dizigens)
ôfhingjeto depend ôfhinklikdependent ôfhinklikheiddependency (also ôfhinklikens)
brûketo use brûkberuseful brûkberheiduse (also brûkberens)
ienone iensumlonely iensumheidloneliness (also iensumens)

This preference for -heid in the case of complex bases is even more outspoken with those adjectives ending in the unstressed suffix -end (in fact the ending of the present participle of verbs). Here, the suffix -ens is simply not allowed:


Table 5
Base form Derived noun in -heid
ûnwittendignorant ûnwittendheid/*ûnwittendensignorance
razendmad razendheid/*razendensmadness
opfallendconspicuous opfallendheid/*opfallendensconspicuousness
behâldendconservative behâldenheid/*behâldendensconservatism
wolmienendwell-meaning wolmienendheid/*wolmienendenswell-meaningness
[+] Influence of Dutch

The stress rule is the main force for the distribution of -heid and -ens. That being so, another force may be observed, which is influence from Dutch. For nominalization of adjectives, Dutch only possesses one suffix, i.e. -heid. Now, it appears that if the Frisian base is more or less similar to the Dutch one, then relatively more formations with -heid occur in Frisian. The other way round is also true. For example, the word boartlikplayful does not have a direct formal equivalent, as Dutch has the word speels. It turns out that the formation boartlikens is more frequent then boartlikheid.

The influence of Dutch may also work out in a negative way. That is, some speakers (but writers in particular) try to keep their language as "Frisian" as possible, and hence try to avoid forms that are similar to Dutch. In this way, as a distancing factor, the suffix -ens may be favoured.

[+] Exclusion of both -ens and -heid

The suffixes -heid and -ens are both impossible in the following cases:

  1. Adjectives in the comparative or superlative grade. From moai-erbeautiful-COMPmore beautiful we cannot form *moaierens/*moaierheid, nor *moaistens from the superlative moai-stbeautiful-SUPmost beautiful.
  2. Adjectives that may not be used predicatively. This yields material adjectives. Thus from goudgold we can form the adjective goudengolden, but this can not be nominalized to *goudenens or *goudenheid. Another example is the suffix -er which may form geographical adjectives, for instance Snitserrelated to the town of Snits. However, *Snitserens/*Snitserheidthe extent of being an inhabitant of Snits is impossible. The same applies to the adjectives lofterleft and rjochterright, witness the unacceptability of *lofterens/*lofterheidthe extent of being left.
  3. Adjectively used past participles ending in -e, which are derived from verbs of the weak class II. Thus the past participle of fersmoargjeto pollute is fersmoarge, but this cannot be the basis of *fersmoargensextent of being well-groomed. Adjectively used past participles ending in -e are only possible in two cases, in which the meaning of the past participle has become obscure because the base form does not exist anymore: ferealensamorousness from ferealein love (< *ferealje) and feralterearrensastonishment from feralterearreupset (< *feralterearje).

[+] Semantic properties

A general pattern is that -ens-derivations are non-countable and abstract. They can be considered to be no more than transpositions of adjectives to nouns. Since adjectives are non-countable and abstract anyway, these transpositions to nouns automatically have the same semantic content:


Table 6
Non-countable abstract -ens-derivations Base form
ferealensamorousness ferealein love
smoargensdirt smoarchdirty
lilkensanger lilkangry
bangensanxiety banganxious
blidenshappiness bliidhappy
tsjusterensdarkness tsjusterdark
gekkenscraziness gekcrazy

Likewise, derivations of -heid are in principle non-countable and abstract. However, derivations with -heid may get something extra. As can be seen in the table below, some countable and more concrete -heid-derivations exist as well:


Table 7
Countable concrete -heid-derivations Base form
begryplikheidunderstandability begryplikunderstandable
lêsberheidreadability lêsberreadable
ûntfanklikheidsusceptibility ûntfankliksusceptible
mooglikheidpossibility mooglikpossible
minderheidminority minderless
gelegenheidopportunity gelegenconvenient

As can be seen in the table above, a word like mooglikheidpossibility may be countable, and hence, it can be pluralized: ien mooglikheidone possibility, twa mooglikhedentwo possibilities, et cetera. As such, this is a concrete instantiation of the concept mooglikpossible. The same applies to minderheidminority, which is a concrete instantiation of the adjective minderless. Or take gelegenheidopportunity, which is a concrete instantiation of gelegenconvenient.

[+] Morphological potential

If formations with the suffix -heid have a more concrete/countable character, then they can be pluralized by adding the plural ending -en. At the same time, the vowel of the suffix changes to /e:/. The result -heden is an ending that could be qualified as an irregular plural form. An example is aardichheidsmall present, from aardichnice. This can be pluralized to aardichhedensmall presents. Many plurals are pluralia tantum. Examples are nuverhedenpeculiarities (from nuverstrange), nijmoadrichhedenmodernisms (from nijmoadrichnew-fashioned), ûnhuerichhedendisgusting things (from ûnhuerichdisgusting) and idelhedenvanities (from idelvain).

Diminutive formation is possible as well. After /d/, this regularly results in the allomorph -tsje, where <t> is not shown in the spelling. An example is aardichheidsjesmall present.

Since suffixation with -ens never results in count nouns, pluralization is impossible for such forms. We do not have formations like *smoargensendirts or *lilkensenangers. Diminutives with -ens are impossible as well.

Formations with -ens are avoided as a first member of a compound. So, from the twins ûnbewenberens/ûnbewenberheiduninhabitability, only the latter is used in a compound like ûnbewenberheidsferklearringa declaration of uninhabitability. A word like *ûnbewenberensferklearring is excluded. However, if a variant with -heid is not available, -ens is nevertheless sometimes used in a compound. Examples are sûnenssoarchhealth care (cf. sûnens/*sûnheidhealth or wurkleazenssifernumber of jobless people (cf. wurkleazens/*wurkleasheidunemployment). Undoubtedly, such words emerged under the influence of Dutch compounds like gezondheidszorghealth care and werkloosheidscijfernumber of jobless people. To avoid this, writers sometimes decide to define the word; for instance, in order to translate the Dutch word gezondheidsattesthealth certificate, one can choose to describe the concept in Frisian as bewiis fan sûnensproof of health.

[+] The suffix -ichheid in relationship to -heid and -ens

There is a third suffix that can be used to nominalize an adjective. This is -ichheid, pronounced as [əxit]. It looks as if the relevant nouns are built from an adjective ending in -ich, plus the suffix -heid. It can be argued, however, that -ichheid, apart from being a combination of the suffix -ich plus the suffix -heid, can also be a suffix itself. This is evident in those nouns in which the sequence -ichheid cannot be split up. For example, gauwichheidrush has to come from gauquick + -ichheid, since *gauwich does not exist. The same applies to wissichheidcertainty. This must have been derived from wiscertain + -ichheid, since there is no such formation as *wissich. The upshot is that many words ending in -ichheid are ambiguous. The ending can be one suffix -ichheid or a combination of the suffixes -ich plus the suffix -heid. For example, the noun sleauwichheid can be formed directly from sleaunegligent. Then it simply means negligence. Or sleauwichheid is derived from sleauwicha bit negligent by adding the suffix -heid. Subsequently, the meaning is still negligence, but on a weaker scale, as a result of a base with a slightly different meaning.

As a rule, the final syllable of the adjectival base of -ichheid-words is stressed: SWIETichheidsweets, grutskichheidpride, WIETichheidmoisture. Adjectives that end in an unstressed syllable do occur, but are exceptional: DIMmenichheidshyness.

Primarily, -ichheid carries a collective meaning. Thus grutsk-ichheid (from grutskproud) can be described as the set of instantiations of being proud. Swiet-ichheid can be translated as sweets.

The fact that formations with -ichheid are not pure nominalizations of a property, in contrast to those ending in -ens, can be read off from the following examples, in which the context triggers such a property reading:

Example 1

a. Grutskens/?grutskichheid is in minne eigenskip
Pride is a bad trait
b. De dommens/?dommichheid fan syn opmerking ûntgie him
The stupidity of his remark escaped his notice
c. Lilkens/?lilkichheid is in utering fan ûnmacht
Anger is an expression of impotence

It seems, on the other hand, that -ichheid is also used to circumvent the restrictions presented by -ens and -heid. That is, adjectives with stress on the final syllable should take -ens, but on the other hand, formations with -ens cannot be used to denote to concrete, countable entities, where such a reading is reserved for -heid. Presumably, -ichheid, with a schwa in its first syllable, is selected to attach -heid to a stressed syllable. In this sense, the part -ich- functions as a kind of linking element. The effect is that a formation like dommichheid may function as other formations with -heid. As such, -heid may not combine with domstupid, because of the stress clash: *domheid. However, the stress clash does not apply in dommichheid. This word may therefore mean, in a concrete reading, stupid action. As a count noun, it can also be pluralized to the plurale tantumdommichhedenstupid actions), and diminuation is also possible: dommmichheidsje.

[hide extra information]
x Literature

A general description of the three suffixes can be found in Hoekstra 1998:110-112). A good source for the properties of -ichheid and its relation to -ens and -heid is Hoekstra (1990).

A first description of the stress criterion is Tamminga (1963:224-227). More information about the input restrictions concerning -ens and -heid can be found in Hoekstra and Hut (2003) and in Hoekstra (1990) and Hoekstra (1998). See also various articles by Geart van der Meer: Van der Meer (1986), Van der Meer (1987) and Van der Meer (1988).

Dutch influence is discussed in Van der Meer (1988) and especially in Hoekstra and Hut (2003), who use a great many corpus data. Versloot and Hoekstra (2016) couch data from a corpus in a psycholinguistic model, zooming in on linguistic distance and frequency.

There is some disagreement in the literature on the exact meaning difference between -ens and -heid. For various views, see: Van der Meer (1986), De Jong (1987), Van der Meer (1988) and Hoekstra (1990).

The restriction of -ens with respect to being the first member of compounds is dealt with in De Haan and Hoekstra (1993).

References:
  • Haan, Rienk de & Hoekstra, Jarich1993Morfologyske tûkelteammen by de leksikale útwreiding fan it FryskIt Beaken5514-31
  • Haan, Rienk de & Hoekstra, Jarich1993Morfologyske tûkelteammen by de leksikale útwreiding fan it FryskIt Beaken5514-31
  • Hoekstra, Eric & Hut, Arjan2003Ta de nominalisearjende efterheaksels -ENS en -HEIDIt beaken : meidielingen fan de Fryske Akademy6519-39
  • Hoekstra, Eric & Hut, Arjan2003Ta de nominalisearjende efterheaksels -ENS en -HEIDIt beaken : meidielingen fan de Fryske Akademy6519-39
  • Hoekstra, Eric & Hut, Arjan2003Ta de nominalisearjende efterheaksels -ENS en -HEIDIt beaken : meidielingen fan de Fryske Akademy6519-39
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990Adjectiefnominalisatie in het FriesInterdisciplinair Tijdschrift voor Taal- en tekstwetenschap9273-285
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990Adjectiefnominalisatie in het FriesInterdisciplinair Tijdschrift voor Taal- en tekstwetenschap9273-285
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1990Adjectiefnominalisatie in het FriesInterdisciplinair Tijdschrift voor Taal- en tekstwetenschap9273-285
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Jong, Jan de1987Twataligens en twatalichheid, alla, elk syn sin, beide kinFrysk en Frij12-12-1987xx
  • Meer, Geart van der1986De achterheaksels ens en heid yn it FryskUs wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk Us Wurk35108-130
  • Meer, Geart van der1986De achterheaksels ens en heid yn it FryskUs wurk: tydskrift foar Frisistyk Us Wurk35108-130
  • Meer, Geart van der1987Nominaliseringen op ENS en HEID (in het Fries en elders)Taal en tongval Morfologie; onder red. van A. Goeman ... [et al.]. Taal tongval, Themanummer Morfologie3922-37
  • Meer, Geart van der1988Friese afleidingen op -heid en -ens: (een geval van morfologische rivaliteit?)Spektator: tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek17360-367
  • Meer, Geart van der1988Friese afleidingen op -heid en -ens: (een geval van morfologische rivaliteit?)Spektator: tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek17360-367
  • Meer, Geart van der1988Friese afleidingen op -heid en -ens: (een geval van morfologische rivaliteit?)Spektator: tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek17360-367
  • Meer, Geart van der1988Friese afleidingen op -heid en -ens: (een geval van morfologische rivaliteit?)Spektator: tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek17360-367
  • Meer, Geart van der1988Friese afleidingen op -heid en -ens: (een geval van morfologische rivaliteit?)Spektator: tijdschrift voor Neerlandistiek17360-367
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1963Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IBoalsertA.J. Osinga
  • Versloot, Arjen P. & Hoekstra, Eric2016Attraction between words as a function of frequency and representational distance: Words in the bilingual brainLinguistics541223-1240
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