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-el (nominal)
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Dutch has two unproductive nominal Germanic suffixes -el/əl/: one is found in nouns derived from nouns and has a diminutive semantics (druppel(small) drop < drup, dropdrop, wegelsmall road < wegroad), the other derives nouns from verbs and has a semantics difficult to generalize over (zetelseat < zittento sit, sleutelkey < sluitento lock). Both are unstressed (because of schwa) and cohering. Nouns in -el are of common gender and have a plural form in -s.

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Dutch has a number of native suffixes -el, including the one found in verbs that are basically frequentative(De Jager 1875-1878), e.g. duikelento tumble (< duikento dive). All are unstressed (because of schwa), cohering and unproductive. Haas (1993: 255-256) distinguish two nominal ones, a denominal one and a deverbal one. Nouns in -el are of common gender and have a plural form in -s.

  • denominal -el derives nouns with a diminutive meaning from nouns: knokelknuckle (< obsolete knookbone), luifelawning, canopy (< obsolete luifroof, canopy).
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    eikelacorn (< eikoak) and obsolete beukelbeechnut (< beukbeech) are derived by means of -el, but only few native speakers will recognize the diminutive meaning. wegelsmall road (< wegroad) is only found in Belgium.

    Haas (1993: 255) point out that the analysis of formations such as trommeldrum and druppeldrop is not straightforward: either they are denominal -el derivations from tromdrum and drupdrop, respectively, or they are the result of conversion of the verbs trommelento drum and druppelento drip, to trickle, which are themselves derived by means of the frequentative -el from the simplex verbs trommento drum (obsolete) and druppento drip, to trickle, respectively. Or perhaps these verbs are the result of conversion of the derived nouns? Other cases in point are krabbelscribble, scratch, kreukelwrinkle and kruimelcrumb with their corresponding verbs krabben, krabbelento scratch, kreuken, kreukelento wrinkle and kruimelento drop crumbles.

  • deverbal -el is found in nouns derives from native verb stems, often with ablaut or other types of stem allomorphy: zetelseat < zittento sit, wrevelspite, resentment < wrijvento rub, sleutelkey < sluitento lock, to close, vleugelwing < vliegento fly, bundelbundle, sheaf < bindento bind. Note that there is abundant stem allomorphy. Haas (1993: 255) qualify the semantics of these formations as "diverse", Van der Sijs (2001: 162 ff) calls them "instrumentals".
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Haas (1993: 255) analyse stekelprickle, sting as denominal but perhaps it is derived from the verb stekento sting, to prick (WNT).

Haas (1993: 255) also point at vaandelbanner, pennant, standard as the only neuter case, but this may be a loan from German (Etymologiebank). Zadelsaddle probably contains a different suffix, one with a collective semantics (Etymologiebank). Affixes.org analyses English sickle (cf. Dutch sikkelsickle) as derived by means of -le, the English counterpart of Dutch -el, but Etymologiebank considers it to be a remnant of Latin morphology. English apple (cf. Dutch appelapple), is also analyzed as containing -le, but Etymologiebank hypothesizes that it is a cognate.

Nouns derived with -el can enter in all kind of morphological processes, even diminutive formation, as seen in cases like druppeltjedrop-DIM-DIMsmall drop.

References:
  • 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
  • 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
  • Jager, Arie de1875-1878 Woordenboek der frequentatieven in het NederlandschGoudaVan Goor
  • Sijs, Nicoline van der2001Chronologisch woordenboek. De ouderdom en herkomst van onze woorden en betekenissenAmsterdamL.J. Veen
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