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The suffix -enis derives nouns on the basis of verbs and adjectives. An example of a derivation with a verbal base is tsjûgenistestimony, from tsjûgjeto witness. The word tsjusternisdarkness is an example with an adjectival base is, as it is derived from tsjusterdark.

The suffix shows some formal variation. On the one hand, we see shorter forms in that it shows up without the initial schwa, for example in kennisknowledge (from the verb kenneto know). On the other hand, the suffix may sometimes be extended by a final schwa, hence -(e)nisse, although such variants have a somewhat old-fashioned flavour. An example is groetnissegreeting, from the verb groetsjeto greet.

The suffix is not productive. Derivations with a verbal base are rather formal words, often loans from Dutch.

[+] Formal properties

The suffix -enis is pronounced as [ənIs]. If the stem of the verb ends in /v/, then this consonant becomes voiceless. An example is begraveto bury > begraffenisto bury, or drôvichsad > drôfenissadness in case of an adjectival base. More on the phonological side of this devoicing, which is triggered by the suffix, can be found in the topic on the phonological domain of Final Devoicing.

In a few cases the suffix shows up without an initial schwa. These are kenneto know > kennisknowledge, witteto know > witnisknowledge, ferjitteto forget > ferjitnisoblivion, hinderjeto handicap > hindernishandicap and skiednishistory, which has an opaque base. An explanation for the shorter form cannot always be given, although in a word like hindernis it must have been preferred in order to avoid a sequence of two schwa syllables. Sometimes both variants are allowed, as in groet(e)nisgreeting (from the verb groetsjeto greet).

Another source of variation is the addition of a final schwa, resulting in -(e)nisse. This heavier variant often has an old-fashioned flavour. Examples are kennisseknowledge, dearnissecompassion or groetnissegreetings. This variant has been lexicalised in the (old-fashioned) noun skriftekennisseliterature, which finds its base in the verb kenneto know.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that sometimes extra consonants can be inserted between the verb stem and the suffix. Examples are the insertion of the [t] in bekenneto confess > bekentenisconfession and the insertion of the [r] in the suffix itself in the word wyldwild > wylderniswilderness.

[+] Verb as base

A few verbs may take the suffix -enis in nominalizations. Some examples are given below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
tsjûgjeto witness tsjûgenistestimony
belideto profess belidenisprofession
besnijeto circumcise besnijeniscircumcision
ferriizjeto rise ferrizenisresurrection
lykjeto look like likenissimilarity

The derivations have a quite formal character, and therefore influence of the Dutch suffix -enis cannot be excluded beforehand. In most cases they are loans from Dutch. All nouns have common gender and a plural in -en. The only exception with respect to the gender is tsjûgenistestimony, which is a neuter noun. The derivation ferjeffenisforgiveness is opaque. Historically, it belongs to the verb ferjaanto forgive.

It seems that the core function of -enis is to derive action nouns, although a result reading is also often available. But a word like hindernisobstacle, on the other hand, has a subject function.

[+] Adjective as base

The suffix -enis can also derive nouns from a few adjectives. Examples are listed below:

Table 2
Base form Derivation
tsjusterdark tsjusternisdarkness
drôfsad drôfenissadness
wyldwild wylderniswilderness
finzenimprisoned finzenisprison
folmakkeperfect folmakkenisperfection

Again, all nouns have common gender. They do not have a plural form, with the exception of finzenis, which can be pluralized to finzenissenprisons. The extended suffix -(e)nisse is not possible either. To derive drôfenissadness, the suffix -ich of the base drôvichsad must have been truncated.

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x Literature

This topic is based on Hoekstra (1998:121-122).

  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
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