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Adjectival prefixes
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Quite a number of prefixes are found in adjectives. Usually, the basis is either an adjective or a participle used as an adjective, that is, most adjectival prefixation is category-neutral. Smessaert (2013: 65) distinguishes three classes of adjectival prefixes: negative, amplifying and classical, but not all fit in equally easily, and prefixes like non- are both negative and classical. The native negative prefix is on-, as in ondiepun.deepshallow; the most important non-native one is in- and its allomorphs, as in intransitiefintransitive and irreëelunreal. Amplifying adjectival prefixes include native aarts- as in aartsluiarch.lazyextremely lazy and non-native super- as in superzieksuper.illextremely ill; a boundary category is fourmed by affixoids such as steen-stone and spin-spider that have an amplifying meaning when combined with specific adjectives in so-called elative compounds such as steengoedstone-goodvery good and spinnijdigspider-angryvery angry. The classical prefixes, finally, belong to the realm of neoclassical wordformation and combine mostly with non-native words and bound forms; an example is extra- in extramuraalextramural, where *muraal is not an existing word in Dutch. Many prefixes that are found in complex adjectives combine with bases of other categories as well.

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There are two native negative adjectival prefixes in Dutch, and a few non-native ones. In addition, there are also a few prefix-like elements that are not negative in the logical sense but that have a semantics which is related to negation:

  • native on- as in oneffenuneven and onacceptabelinacceptable.
  • native niet as in niet-ontvankelijkinadmissible.
  • native wan- as in wanordelijkunorderly.
  • non-native a- and an- as in atonaalatonal and anisotroopanisotropic.
  • non-native in- and its allomorphs as in incongruentincongruent, irrationeelirrational, immoreelimmoral and illegaalillegal.
  • non-native non- as in non-figuratiefnon-figurative.
Prefixes with a meaning related to negation include
  • native namaak-fake, nep-fake and wan-bad and non-native pseudo-
  • non-native (international) prefixes such as anti-, contra- and extra-
    [show extra information]
    x

    anti- (against), contra- (counter) and extra- (outside) attach to adjectives (anti-autoritairanti-authoritarian, contraproductiefcounterproductive, extraterritoriaalextraterritorial) but semantically the prefix appears to scope over the underlying noun: anti-autoritairanti-authoritarian does not mean against authoritarian but rather being against authority. anti- also combines with nouns. The result is either a noun (antiheldanti-hero) or a predicative adjective (antikernbomanti nuclear bombagainst nuclear weapons) that does not inflect (cf. its antonympro-). anti- can be used recursively: an anti-antiraketraketraket is a missile against missiles against missiles. contra- combines with nouns as well (contraspionagecounterespionage); the same holds for extra- but then the semantics is different: a extraspeler is an additional player.

The most important native amplifying prefixes are
  • aarts as in aartsluiextremely lazy
  • aller- that only combines with superlative forms, as in zij is de allerleuksteshe is the aller.funniestshe is the funniest of all
  • in- as in intriestvery sad and in- en intriestextremely sad
  • oer- as in oerlelijkvery ugly
These prefixes compete among other things with the process of elative compounding (e.g. reuzetrotsgiant.proudvery proud).

The most important non-native amplifying prefixes are

  • giga- as in gigadronkenextremely drunk
  • hyper- as in hyperactiefhyperactive
  • mega- as in megazwaarextremely heavy
  • super- as in superzelfverzekerdextremely self-confident
  • ultra- as in ultraliberaalultra-liberal.

References:
  • Smessaert, Hans2013Basisbegrippen morfologieBasisbegrippen taalkundeLeuven/Den HaagACCO
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