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-es
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-es(se)[ɛs(sə)] is a stressed, unproductive, cohering suffix of Romance origin that creates nouns of common gender denoting female persons out of male professional function names. Being of common gender, -es derivations take the definite singular article de. Plural of -es formations is usually in -(e)n, also in -s in case of the -esse variant.

Schema:
[[N]es(se)](N)

Meaning:
  • female counterpart of base noun


Table 1
derivation base
voogdesfemale guardian < voogdguardian
zondaresfemale sinner < zondaarsinner
zangeresfemale singer < zangersinger
secretaressefemale secretary < secretarissecretary

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[+] Morphosyntactic properties

The suffix -es[ɛs](Zonneveld 1986) is a stressed, unproductive, cohering suffix of Romance origin found in nouns of common gender denoting female persons, derived from male professional names. It has an allomorph esse['ɛsə] found in words such as secretaressefemale secretary and bibliothecaressefemale librarian, and both variants are attested in pairs such as eigenares/eigenaressefemale owner, meesteres/meesteressemistress, dominatrix, barones/baronessebaroness and dienares/dienaresse(maid)servant. The suffix in complementary distribution with native suffixes such as -ster (productive, default) and -in.

[show extra information]
x

According to Booij (2002: 103), "The choice between -es and -in is not governed by specific conditions, but they are unproductive anyway."

Although -ster is the default and productive suffix for base forms derived by means of -er and -aar, the exact distribution is not predictable: cf. deverbal leraresfemale teacher with beoordelaarsterjudge, denominal zondaresfemale sinner with molenaresfemale miller. There are quite some double forms, e.g kluizenares/kluizenaarsterfemale recluse, bedelaarster/bedelaresfemale begger, while certain other bases have no female counterpart at all (no *redenares or *redenaarster from redenaarspeaker, orator).

If there is a difference in pairs such as eigenares/eigenaressefemale owner, meesteres/meesteressemistress, dominatrix, barones/baronessebaroness and dienares/dienaresse(maid)servant, the longer variant is felt as more archaic. There is also an allomorph -is(se)['ɪsə], found only in abdisabbess (< abtabbott) and in claris, clarisseFranciscan nun.

Ith as been claimed that eigenaressefemale owner is more common than eigenaresfemale owner; according to googlefight (September 30th, 2013) this is true for Netherlands (websites from site:.nl) but not for Belgium (websites from site:.be).

-es derives from two French suffixes ((Philippa 2003-2009)), esse (as in princesse) and eresse (as in chanteresse, modern form chanteuse 'singer'). The former was restricted to high registers, the latter was not.

The form dokteres'female doctor is more popular in Belgium than in the Netherlands. De Haas and Trommelen (1993:190) claim that in Belgium, -es occasionally combines with verbal stems, as in naaiesseamster (< naaiento sew. The common form is naaister, certain informants from The Netherlands also accept naaieres).

[+] Phonological properties

The suffix -es is a cohering suffix: syllabification does not respect the morphological boundary: voogdesvoogd-es[vog-'des]female guardian. The suffix bears main stress: ba'ron, baro'nes.

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x

In a number of -es derivations we find stem allomorphy, e.g. benedictines < benedictijn. barones[ba-ro-'nɛs]baroness has lengthening and vowel change in the open syllable that results from syllabification (cf. baron[ba-'rɔn]baron) (cf. Heemskerk 2000).

[+] Inflectional properties

Plurals of -es formations are in –en, e.g. zangeressensingers, tovenaressensorceresses, prinsessenprincesses, voogdessenguardians. The -esse allomorph also allows for plural in -es: secretaressessecretaries, bibliothecaresseslibrarians, in the former case this is most frequent variant.

[+] Input restrictions

The base of -es derivations is either simplex (voogd-esguardian, prins-esprincess, baron-esbaroness) or a deverbal derived noun in -aar or -er (formations that take feminizing -ster by default, (De Haas and Trommelen 1993)) e.g. lerares (< leraarteacher), zondares (< zondaarsinner), tovenares (< tovenaressorcerer), middelares (< middelaarmediator).

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x

Geographical person names in -aar or -er never take -es, so no *Antwerpenares next to Antwerpen-aarsomeone from the city of Antwerp or *Texelares next to Texel-aarsomeone from the isle of Texel, nor *Schiedammeres next to Schiedam-ersomeone from the city of Schiedam or *Vlielanderes next to *Vlieland-ersomeone from the isle of Vlieland. Instead, a derivation in -e from the pertinent adjective is used for the female inhabitant name: Antwerps-e, Texels-e, Schiedams-e, Vlielands-e.

[+] Semantic properties

Formations with the suffix -es denote female function names: voogdesfemale guardian is the counterpart of voogdguardian.

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x

There are still traces of the historical (French) dichotomy between high register -es(se) and lower -eres(se) in current Dutch, cf. forms like (upper class) voogdesguardian, prinsesprincess with (down to earth) leraresteacher, zangeressinger (see Etymologiebank). Certain forms in -esse are attested as well, such as baronessebaroness next to baronesbaroness, eigenaresseowner next to eigenaresowner. In general, the longer forms sound more solemn and archaic(Haeseryn 1997).

In the case of secretaresseoffice assistant, a semantic change has occurred: the word refers to a job with less status (and salary) than that of a (vrouwelijke) secretarisfemale secretary. In the double form tekenaarstersomeone who draws vs. tekenaresprofessional female draftsman, semantic specialization has occurred.

[+] Morphological potential

-es formations can be input to diminutive formation (zangeresjesmall/cute female singertovenaresjesmall sorceress) (those in -esse cannot, apart from attested secretaresje < secretaressesecretary), but not to other derivational processes. In compounds, they can function both as left-hand and right-hand part, as illustrated by onderwijzeressenhandschriftfemale teacher's handwriting and gymnastiekleraresfemale gymnastics teacher, respectively.

References:
  • Booij, Geert2002The morphology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • 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
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
  • Heemskerk, José & Zonneveld, Wim2000UitspraakwoordenboekHet Spectrum
  • Philippa, Marlies, Debrabandere, Frans, Quak, Arend, Schoonheim, Tanneke & Sijs, Nicoline van der2003-2009Etymologisch Woordenboek van het NederlandsAmsterdam University Press
  • Zonneveld, Wim1986De morfologie van de mens: de vrouwProeven van TaalwetenschapTABU226-234
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