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Adjectival suffixes
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Dutch features two types of morphologically derived adjectives: qualitative and relational adjectives. Qualitative adjectives denote a property of the noun that is the head of the relevant phrase, either as modifiers or as predicates of the noun, as in 1a and 1b.

Example 1

a. een bloedige aangelegenheid
[bloedig-e]
a bloody affair
b. Deze aangelegenheid was bloedig
This affair was bloody

Relational adjectives denote a relation between a noun and the base of a derived adjective, as in 2.

Example 2

een wiskundig probleem
[wiskund-ig]
a mathematical problem, a problem that relates to wiskunde (= mathematics)

Relational adjectives cannot be modified, and are hardly used in predicative position, an then only to stress the nature of something, as in 3a and 3b.

Example 3

a. ?Een erg wiskundig probleem
A very mathematical problem
b. Dit probleem is wiskundig (van aard)
This problem is mathematical (in nature)

Some suffixes are used exclusively for coining qualitative adjectives, whereas others can be used for both semantic types of adjectives.

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Both native and non-native suffixes are used for deriving qualitative adjectives. These suffixes can be attached to nouns, verbs, and adjectives. The native adjectival suffixes for qualitative adjectives are listed in table 1:


Table 1: Native adjectival suffixes for qualitative adjectives
Suffix Base category Example Derived adjective
-achtig N rotsrock rotsachtigrocky
V weigerto refuse weigerachtigrefusing persistently
A groengreen groenachtiggreenish
-baar V draagto carry draagbaarportable
N vruchtfruit vruchtbaarfruitful
-elijk N godgod goddelijkdivine
N erfto inherit erfelijkhereditary
A bangafraid bangelijktimid
-erig N houtwood houterigstiff
V bijtto bite bijterigbiting
A groengreen groenerigsort of greenish
-ig N bloedblood bloedigbloody
V nalaatto neglect nalatignegligent
A groengreen groeniggreenish
-loos N naamname naamloosnameless
-zaam N deugdvirtue deugdzaamvirtuous
V werkto work werkzaamactive
A langlong langzaamslow

Non-native suffixes are also used to derive qualitative adjectives. They are listed in table 2.


Table 2: Derived qualitative adjectives with non-native suffixes
Suffix Base category Example Derived category Example
-aal N synodesynod A synodaalsynodical
-abel V accepteerto accept A acceptabelacceptable
-air N eliteelite A elitairelitist
-eel N fundamentfundament A fundamenteelfundamental
-esk N balladeballad A balladeskballad-like
-eus N rancunerancour A rancuneusrancorous
-iek N energieenergy A energiekenergetic
-ieus N modefashion A modieusfashionable
-isch N apathieapathy A apathischapathetic
-oir N emancipatieemancipation A emancipatoiremancipatory

Both native and non-native suffixes are used for deriving relational adjectives. This set of suffixes partially overlaps with the suffixes for qualitative adjectives. These suffixes are listed in table 3 (native suffixes) and table 4 (non-native suffixes).


Table 3: Derived relational adjectives with native suffixes
Suffix Example Phrase with relational adjective
en zilveren[zilver-en]silver-SUFF zilveren ring[zilver-en] ringsilver ring
-er Edammer[Edamm-er]Edamm-SUFF Edammer kaas[Edamm-er] kaasEdam cheese
-ig toekomstig[toekomst-ig]future-SUFF toekomstige man[toekomst-ig-e] manfuture-SUFF husband
-(e)lijk vaderlijk[vader-lijk]father-SUFF vaderlijk gezag[vader-lijk] gezagpaternal authority
-ling mondeling[monde-ling]mouth-SUFF mondeling examen[monde-ling] examenoral exam
-s buitenlands[buitenland-s]foreign countries-SUFF buitenlandse betrekkingen[buitenland-s-e] betrekkingenforeign relations
Amerikaans[Ameriaan-s]American-SUFF Amerikaanse regering[Amerikaan-s-e] regeringAmerican government

Most non-native adjectival suffixes can be used both in qualitative and relational adjectives. Table 4 provides examples of use in relational adjectives.


Table 4: Derived relational adjectives with non-native suffixes
Suffix Example Phrase with relational adjective
-aal muzikaal[muzik-aal]music-SUFF muzikaal talent[muzik-aal] talentmusical talent
-air atomair[atom-air]atom-SUFF atomaire fysica[atom-air-e] fysicanuclear physics
-eel structureel[structur-eel]structure-SUFF structurele analyse[structur-el-e] analysestructural analysis
-eus religieus[religi-eus]religious religieuze strijd[religi-euz-e] strijdreligious fight
-ief educatief[educat-ief]education-SUFF educatief verlof[educat-ief] verlofeducational sabbatical
-iek metriek[metr-iek]meter-SUFF metriek systeem[metr-iek] systeemmetrical system
-iel civiel[civ-iel]civ-SUFF civiel effect[civ-iel] effectcivil effect
-isch filosofisch[filosof-isch]philosophy-SUFF filosofische discussie[filosof-isch-e] discussiephilosophical debate
-oir emancipatoir[emancipat-oir]emancipation-SUFF emancipatoir probleem[emancipat-oir] probleememancipation issue
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