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-wurk
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The unproductive suffixoid-wurk derives neuter nouns from other nouns. The noun to which the suffix is related is wurkmechanism. The suffix can only be attached to a couple of nouns, most of the time referring to the body. An example is skonkleg > skonkwurklegs. The derivations always contain a strong element of collectivity. Skonkwurk for instance refers to the legs in their entirity.

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[+] General properties

There are only a limited number of nouns which the suffix -wurk can be attached to. The table below shows some examples:


Table 1
Base form Derivation
skonkleg skonkwurklegs
mûlemouth mûlwurkmouth
bienbone bienwurkbones; skeleton
bynttruss byntwurktruss
gedichtpoem dichtwurkthe poems of a poet
traaljebar traaljewurkgrid of bars

The derivations often refer to parts of the body but, as can be seen from the last two examples, this is not necessarily the case. What they all have in common is that they have a collective element, referring to the whole of bones, legs, etcetera. Sometimes, in case of mûlwurkmouth for instance, there is a somewhat comic connotation.

Sometimes extra processes occur: in dichtwurk[dɪxtvörk]the poems of a poet (< gedichtpoem) the first syllable of the base form (ge-) has been truncated and in case of mûlwurk[mulvörk]mouth ( < mûlemouth) the schwa in the base form has been deleted.

-Wurk is a suffixoid: as a suffix, it grammaticalized from the noun wurkmechanism. It has kept the gender of this noun, which is neuter. The word skonkleg, for instance, is common, while skonkwurklegs is a neuter word.

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x Affix -wurk and noun -wurk

The noun wurk can function as the second part of a compound. One has to know the meaning, in order to understand whether the word is a compound or a noun ending in a suffix. Compare the following two examples:

  • buertwurkneighbourhood-work: one has to know that this is the charity work someone does for his or her neighbourhood and that it is not a collection of neighbours or neighbourhoods. Here -wurk is the second part of the compound and not a suffix.
  • dichtwurkpoem-work: here -wurk is a suffix: the word means all poems of a poet.

[+] Other suffixes that form collective nouns

-Wurk is not the only suffix that forms collective nouns. Comparable suffixes are:

  • -boel: hokshed > hokkeboelsheds;
  • -brol: papierpaper > papierbrolpapers;
  • brot: krantnewspaper > krantebrotnewspapers;
  • -dom: minskhuman > minskdomhumanity;
  • -emint: kaakjaw > kakemintthe lower and upper jaw;
  • -guod: fûgelbird > fûgelguodbirds;
  • -heid: minskhuman being > minskheidhumanity;
  • -spul: bistanimal > bistespulanimals.

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