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The suffix -e derives female nouns from nouns that mostly refer to a specific profession or ideology. The suffix is unproductive. It mainly occurs after words of non-germanic origin. An example is presidintpresident > presidintefemale president. If bases end in -teur, this turns to -trise after suffixation, for example in kondukteurconductor > konduktrisefemale conductor. Something comparable applies to the ending -eur, which changes to -euze, as in sjofeurdriver > sjofeuzefemale driver. The suffix selects -s as its plural ending.

Other suffixes that form female nouns are -esse, -inne, -ske and -ster. Note also the suffix -e which derives female inhabitant names; however, on the basis of an adjective. For the latter suffix, see the section reference to female inhabitant names in the topic on -e with adjective as base.

[+] General properties

The unproductive suffix -e, pronounced as schwa ([ə]), attaches to nouns that indicate male (or sex-neutral) persons practising a certain profession, holding an office, having a certain ideology, and the like. The suffix creates a noun that refers to the female practitioner. Some examples are given below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
presidintpresident presidintechairwoman
studintstudent studintefemale student
pianistpiano-player pianistefemale piano-player
kommunistcommunist kommunistefemale communist
filosoofphilosopher filosofefemale philosopher
spionspy spionnefemale spy
learlingpupil learlingefemale pupil
The derivations have common gender, which implies that they select dethe as the definite article.

[+] The endings -trise and -euze

If the base form ends in, originally French, -teur, then this ending is replaced with -trise (i.e. -tris- + -e). Examples are listed below. In the last two examples, the originally Latin ending -tor is also replaced by -trise.

Table 2
Base form Derivation
kondukteurconductor konduktrisefemale conductor
direkteurmanager direktrisemanageress
akteuractor aktriseactress
ynspekteurinspector ynspektrisefemale inspector
rapporteurreporter rapportrisefemale reporter
koördinatorco-ordinator koördinatrisefemale co-ordinator
presintatorhost presentatrisehostess
If the base form ends in -eur (hence: different from -teur!), this ending is replaced by -euze (i.e. -euz- + -e). Examples are listed below:
Table 3
Base form Derivation
sjofeurdriver sjofeuzefemale driver
masseurmasseur masseuzemasseuse
kûpeurcutter kûpeuzefemale cutter

[+] Stratum

As the examples indicate, the suffix is mostly combined with a non-germanic base. This, however, is not necessarily so, for instance in learlingefemale pupil.

[+] Morphological potential

The derivations all have their plural in -s. This must be selected by the suffix, as monomorphematic nouns ending in a schwa normally take -en as their plural suffix (see regular plural formation and particularly the plural of complex words for plural formation). Diminuation is odd, probably since for diminutive formation one is inclined to truncate the final schwa, which is not possible here since it bears the female semantics. On the other hand, a putative ending -eke sounds strange.

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x Literature

Tamminga (1973:54-57) writes about the suffixes denoting female persons. This suffix is also mentioned in Hoekstra (1998:93-94). For the plural of words ending in a schwa, see Hoekstra (2011).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
  • Hoekstra, Jarich2011Meervoudsvorming in het Westerlauwers Fries en het Nederlands (en patroniemvorming in het Noord-Fries)Taal en Tongval63281-301
  • Tamminga, Douwe Annes1973Op 'e taelhelling. Losse trochsneden fan Frysk taellibben. IIA.J. Osinga
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