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The unproductive suffixoid-wurk derives neuter nouns from other nouns. The noun to which the suffix is related is wurk mechanism. The suffix can only be attached to a couple of nouns, most of the time referring to the body. An example is skonk leg > skonkwurk legs. The derivations always contain a strong element of collectivity. Skonkwurk for instance refers to the legs in their entirity.

[+]General properties

There are only a limited number of nouns which the suffix -wurk can be attached to. The table below shows some examples:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
skonk leg skonkwurk legs
mûle mouth mûlwurk mouth
bien bone bienwurk bones; skeleton
bynt truss byntwurk truss
gedicht poem dichtwurk the poems of a poet
traalje bar traaljewurk grid of bars

The derivations often refer to parts of the body but, as can be seen from the last two examples, this is not necessarily the case. What they all have in common is that they have a collective element, referring to the whole of bones, legs, etcetera. Sometimes, in case of mûlwurk mouth for instance, there is a somewhat comic connotation.

Sometimes extra processes occur: in dichtwurk [dɪxtvörk] the poems of a poet (< gedicht poem) the first syllable of the base form (ge-) has been truncated and in case of mûlwurk [mulvörk] mouth ( < mûle mouth) the schwa in the base form has been deleted.

-Wurk is a suffixoid: as a suffix, it grammaticalized from the noun wurk mechanism. It has kept the gender of this noun, which is neuter. The word skonk leg, for instance, is common, while skonkwurk legs is a neuter word.

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Affix -wurk and noun -wurk

The noun wurk can function as the second part of a compound. One has to know the meaning, in order to understand whether the word is a compound or a noun ending in a suffix. Compare the following two examples:

  • buertwurk neighbourhood-work: one has to know that this is the charity work someone does for his or her neighbourhood and that it is not a collection of neighbours or neighbourhoods. Here -wurk is the second part of the compound and not a suffix.
  • dichtwurk poem-work: here -wurk is a suffix: the word means all poems of a poet.

[+]Other suffixes that form collective nouns

-Wurk is not the only suffix that forms collective nouns. Comparable suffixes are:

  • -boel: hok shed > hokkeboel sheds;
  • -brol: papier paper > papierbrol papers;
  • brot: krant newspaper > krantebrot newspapers;
  • -dom: minsk human > minskdom humanity;
  • -emint: kaak jaw > kakemint the lower and upper jaw;
  • -guod: fûgel bird > fûgelguod birds;
  • -heid: minsk human being > minskheid humanity;
  • -spul: bist animal > bistespul animals.