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-ling
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-(e)ling[(ə)lɪŋ] is a Germanic, stress-neutral, unproductive, non-cohering suffix that creates nouns of common gender denoting persons or things from bases of various categories. Being of common gender, -(e)ling derivations take the definite article de. Plural is usually in -en.

Schema:
[[X](e)ling](N)

Meaning:
  • person or thing somehow related to the base


Table 1
derivation in (e)ling base
dorpelingvillager < dorp.Nvillage
zuigelinginfant < zuigen.Vto suck
fanatiekelingfanatic < fanatiek.Afanatic
Bruggelingsomeone from Bruges < Brugge(Geographical name)Bruges
krakelingtype of cookie, cracknel < kraken.Vto crack
tweelingtwin < twee(cardinal number)two
Note that there is also a suffix -eling found in a few relational adjectives such as mondelingoral (< mondmouth).

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[+] Morphosyntactic properties

The Germanic suffix -(e)ling[(ə)lɪŋ] is found in nouns of common gender (taking the definite singular article de) that denote persons, animals, plants or things, derived from either nouns (hovelingcourtier < hofcourt, nestelingnestling, hunting bird taken from the nest < nestnest), verbs (vluchtelingrefugee < vluchtento flee, krakelingtype of cookie, cracknel < krakento crack) or adjectives (stommelingnincompoop< stomstupid, dumb, vroegelinganimal born in spring < vroegearly). The base can be simplex or complex (e.g. vertrouwelingconfidant < ver-trouwento trust, mislukkelingloser < mis-lukkento fail, schipbreukelingshipwrecked person < schipbreukship fractureshipwreck); the only complex bases that are derived by means of suffixation are adjectival, e.g. naïevelingnaive < naïefnaive. There are also -ling derivations on the basis of cardinal numbers, e.g. drielingtriplets.

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There are two -eling formations on the basis of place names, to wit Bruggelingsomeone from Bruges (< BruggeBruges) and Ieperlingsomeone from Ypres (< IeperYpres).

Formations with -(e)ling should not be confused with -ing derivations of verbs in <l> such as mededelingannouncement (< mededelento announce), cf. verwarmingheating, heater (< verwarmento heat).

Two types of derived adjectival stems are quite common in -eling derivations, viz. those in -ief (e.g. naïevelingnaive < naïefnaive) and -iek (e.g. fanatiekelingfanatic < fanatiekfanatic).

Booij (2002:169) mentions -ling as one of a number of affixes that "derive historically from lexemes". Etymologiebank, however, notes that -ling is generally assumed to be related historically to the suffix -ing, either by reanalysis of -ing derivations of stems ending in /l/, or as a combination of the (nowadays all but obsolete) diminutivesuffix -el and -ing.

There is also a suffix -eling found in a few relational adjectives such as mondelingoral (< mondmouth) that originates as an adverbInstituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie (1995). Most parallel derivations have acquired an adverbial -s, e.g. ruggelingsbackward(s) (also used as an adjective) and tappelingsflowing.

[+] Semantic properties

The meaning of -ling formations is diverse, but usually relationalhaving to do with base word. Important subcategories are:

  • '(male) inhabitant of stem noun', e.g. dorpelingvillager, hovelingcourtier < hofcourt, Bruggelingsomeone from Bruges.
  • '(male) person having, affecting or affected by the meaning of the input noun', e.g. vernuftelingengineer < vernuftingenuity, opstandelingrebel < opstandrevolution and schipbreukelingcastaway < schipbreukshipwreck, respectively.
  • 'agent noun, subject of base verb', e.g. leerlingpupil, beginnelingstarter, vluchtelingrefugee.
  • 'patient noun, someone affected by the base verb', e.g. bannelingexile, huurlingmercenary, verschoppelingoutcast
  • 'someone possessing the property denoted by the base adjective', e.g. fanatiekelingfanatic, nieuwelingnovicevreemdelingstranger.
  • a few object names: krakelingtype of cookie, cracknel, mengelingmixture, zilverlingtype of coin, type of fish
  • names of plants and animals, such as takkelingyoung bird < takbranch, hokkelingone year calf < hokshed, rapelingfallen fruit picked up < rapento pick up, aangroeielingsmall potato < aangroeiento grow, vroegelingyoung animal born in spring < vroegearly.
  • forms such as tweelingtwin < twee2 and drielingtriplet < drie3 denoting multiple births.

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Note eenlingsingleton, maverick, loner. Pippelingpippin, apple and teerlingdie, cube may look like -ling derivations, but they are not (cf. Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie (1995)).

In Belgium one finds pluralia tantum of deverbal -ing formations with a Result reading such as schavelingenshavings and zagelingensaw dust.

[+] Phonological properties

The suffix -(e)ling/(ə)lɪŋ/ is a non-cohering suffix (Booij 2002: 169): it is a prosodic word and it allows for gapping: twee- en drielingentwins and triplets(Booij 2002: 171); it does not change the stress pattern of the stem it attaches to. The stem of the base may not end in a vowel (*judo-eling (< judojudo) or in the sequence full vowel plus /l/(De Haas and Trommelen 1993: 183-187). Being a prosodic word, -(e)ling carries secondary stress (Booij 2002:31).

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In a number of -(e)ling derivations we find stem allomorphy, e.g. stedelingtownsman < stadcity, schepelingsailor < schipship, vondelingfoundling < vindento find, drenkelingdrowning person < verdrinkento drown. Stem reduction in ballingexile < bannelingexile < (ver)bannento ban, to put in exile. Ouderlingelder < oudold may be a case of stem allomorphy, or an exceptional comparative base (cf. English elder).

A possible argument against the non-cohering character of the suffix is that syllabification apparently does not respect the morphological boundary: vondelingvond-eling[von-də-lɪŋ]foundling; if, however, e is taken as a linking morpheme, this argument disappears. Note that halfling[hɑlf.lɪŋ]hobbit (a coinage by the translator or a calque) shows devoicing, so the syllabification is /hɑlv.lɪŋ/ underlyingly and not /*hɑl.vlɪŋ/ as one would expect with a cohering suffix, given the Maximal Onset Principle.

Gapping is not acceptable for all speaker if the base is not a cardinal (*vlucht- en fanatiekelingenrefugees and fanatics, but the unacceptability may be pragmatic in nature), but dorpe- en stedelingenvillage- and townspeople) is not uncommon.

The word wel'lustelinglecher (< 'wellustlust) is the only case of an -(e)ling derivation with a stress pattern that is different from that of its base (Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie 1995).

[+] Inflectional properties

Plurals of -ling formations are in –en, e.g. dorpelingenvillagers, zuigelingeninfantsBruggelingenpeople from Bruges, tweelingentwins, drenkelingendrowning people.

[+] Morphological potential

It is easy to form diminutive forms of -ling formations, the suffix takes the form -etje or -kje depending on the prosodic structure of the word: nakomelingetjedescendant-DIM, ballinkjeexile-DIM.

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De Haas and Trommelen (1993: 281) note that derivations with the short variant -ling often take the diminutive suffix -etje rather than the expected -kje (leerlingetjepupil-DIMhuurlingetjemercenary-DIMtweelingtwin-DIM.

-ling formations can also be input to abstract noun formation with -schap (e.g. nakomelingschapoffspring < nakomelingdescendant, ballingschapbanishment < ballingexile). For -ling formations denoting persons, the female form can be construed by means of the suffix -e (e.g. vreemdelingefemale stranger, zendelingefemale missionary leerlingefemale pupil); De Haas and Trommelen (1993: 232) note that de-adjectival -ling formations accept this -e less easily than denominal and deverbal ones.

References:
  • Booij, Geert2002The morphology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert2002The morphology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert2002The morphology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • 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
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie1995Het Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT)
  • Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie1995Het Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT)
  • Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie1995Het Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal (WNT)
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