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-isme
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-isme (/ɪsmə/) is a stress-bearing non-native productive cohering suffix found in nouns of neuter gender based on words and bound forms of foreign origin. Most nouns in -isme typically denote names of ideologies, movements, etc., e.g. modernismemodernism and calvinismcalvinism; usually there is a corresponding noun in -ist denoting supporter of the ideology, movement, etc.. There are smaller groups of derivations with -isme with a different type of semantics, such as being N, e.g. snobismesnobbism, being a snob, pathological condition, e.g. priapismepriapism, with a subgroup addiction, e.g. alcoholismealcoholism, language peculiarity, e.g. archaïsmearchaism, and construction, e.g. mechanismmechanism (cf. also Affixes.org). There is also an unproductive variant -asme that correlates with personal nouns or adjectives in -ast, and creates abstract nouns of neuter gender, e.g. enthousiasmeenthusiasm, as well as a few names of rhetorical tropes such as pleonasmepleonasm. Various forms in -isme (and in -asme) are loans.

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[+] Semantics

De Haas and Trommelen (1993: 263-4) distinguish two groups of formations with -isme: the type movement, ideology and the type other (cf. also Affixes.org). This division can be further refined along the following lines:

  • the largest group of -isme formations refer to systems, principles, practices, doctrines, or ideological movements. Cases in point are modernismemodernism, calvinismcalvinism, Boedhismebuddhism, pessimismepessimism, purismepurism. As the translations of the examples show, most -isme formations have a cognate correspondent in English; many of these formations may be loans from English or another neighboring language.
  • the group other can be subdivided as follows:
    • being a person: snobismesnobism, analfabetismeanalphabetism, vandalismevandalism. There usually is a corresponding noun, but it is not formed with -ist: snobsnob, analfabeetilliterate, vandaalvandal.
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      Analogical forms such as vandalist and snobist are attested; the first one is explicitly disapproved of by Taaluniversium, the second one is not in the dictionaries.

    • a pathological condition, e.g. strabismestrabismus, heterotropia, cross-eyedness, botulismebotulism, botuline poisoning (cf. Wikipedia) and priapismepriapism. A subgroup involves the (excessive) use of, or addiction to, certain substances, e.g. alcoholismealcoholism and morfinismemorphinism.
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      Corresponding -ist formations are mostly restricted to the latter subgroup (although priapist is attested as well); these refer to addicts, such as alcoholistalcoholic and morfinistmorphine addict.

    • a peculiarity in language, e.g. syllogismesyllogism, vocalismevocalism, syncretismesyncretism; an important subset denotes peculiarities of certain groups, e.g. germanismeGermanism, gallicismegallicism and barbarismebarbarism.
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      Sometimes there is a corresponding -ist derivation, but with an unrelated semantics, e.g. germaniststudent, scholar of German or Germanic languages; a vocalist is a singer.

    • a few formations that refer to construction or built, such as mechanismemechanism and organismeorganism.
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      parallelismeparallelism, is hard to classify.

All -isme derivations are of neuter gender, taking the definite singular article het.
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Paradigmatic relations play a crucial role in the analysis of the non-native lexicon of Dutch consisting parly of words borrowed (directly or indirectly) from Greek and Latin, the pan-European lexicon, and of words formed on the basis of the paradigmatic relations between such words (Booij 2002: 8). For example, Dutch has many triples of words ending in -isme, -ist and -istisch for which no lexical base exists:

Table 1
bolsjewismebolshevism bolsjewistbolshevist bolsjewistischbolshevist(ic)
communismecommunism communistcommunist communistischcommunist(ic)
pacifismepacifism pacifistpacifist pacifistischpacifist(ic)
The basic idea is that, once one of the three forms exists, the other two are also possible. As soon as we know the word pacifisme, we can also use the words pacifist and pacifistisch although there is no lexical base for these words. In formal terms this means these are cases of affix substitution (Sassen 1981). See -ist for an analysis in terms of Construction Morphology.

Unlike -ism in English ( Affixes.org), formations with -isme on native bases are extremely rare, the only common one is the jocular coining arbeiderismeworker-ismproletarianism (Booij 2002: 1995).

There is also an unproductive variant -asme that correlates with personal nouns or adjectives in -ast, and creates abstract nouns of neuter gender, e.g. enthousiasmeenthusiasm and sarcasmesarcasm, as well as a few names of rhetorical tropes such as pleonasmepleonasm and chiasmechiasm. There is also a subgroup of medical terminology, including words like spasmespasm and orgasmeorgasm.

[+] Phonological properties

The suffixes -isme and -asme are stress-bearing: stress is on the first syllable of the suffix modernismemodern-isme/mo.dɛr.'nɪs.mə/ (< modern/mo.'dɛrn/). As the phonological representation shows, the suffix is cohering: syllabification does not respect the morphological structure.

[+] Morphological potential

Formations with -isme and -asme have no diminutive, prabably due to their semantics. When applicable, the plural form is formed with -en (anglicismenanglicisms, mechanismenmechanisms), occasionally also with -s (e.g. specialismenspecialisms is attested next to specialismesspecialisms, and orgasmenorgasms next to orgasmesorgasms)

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Booij (2002: 31-2) notes that for some speakers the phonologically based generalization that all nouns ending in schwa take the plural suffix -s is overridden by a more specific rule that derivations with -isme (and -asme, as we can see) take -en - just like in the case of the noun forming deadjectival -e.

Formations with -isme and -asme easily enter into nominal compound formation, both as left-hand and right-hand members, e.g. racismebestrijdingfight against racism and controlemechanismecontrol mechanism.

References:
  • 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
  • Sassen, Albert1981Morfologische produktiviteit in het licht van niet-additieve woordafleidingForum der Letteren22126-42
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