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-ies (ADJZ)

Table 1
Formal category Derivational suffix
Functional category Adjectiviser (ADJZ)
Orthographic form -ies (e.g. metafor·iesmetaphoric; film·iescinematic)
Phonological form /is/
Phonological properties
  • Cohering
  • Stress-shifting (fixing)
Allomorphs None. Note that -ies is changed to -s due to identical vowel deletion when -ies attaches to words ending in ie.
Semantic properties (meaning)
  • [related to SEM(X)] (metafor·iesmetaphoric)
  • [quality related to SEM(X)](film·iescinematic)
Input restrictions: categories
  • Noun (N) (film·iescinematic)
  • Proper noun (PR) (Kopt·iesCoptic)
  • Root (opt·iesoptic)
Input restrictions: stratum Mostly with Classic roots; only with a few Germanic words
Output: categories Adjectives (ADJ) that can often also function as adverbs (ADV)
Output: morphological potential
  • Not available for derivational suffixation
  • Available for negative prefixes (e.g. on- or nie-)
  • Available for inflection with attributive -e
  • Depending on the semantics, it is also available for degrees of comparison with -er and -ste
  • We also observe the following combinations with interfixes: -ist·ies, -ar·ies, -at·ies, -et·ies and -n·ies
Schema(ta) [[x](N|PR|root)[ies](ADJZ)](A) (e.g. film·iescinematic; Kopt·iesCoptic; opt·iesoptic)
  • Fully productive, especially with regards to roots or nouns from the Classic stratum

  • Sometimes competes with -iek (e.g. polit·ies vs. polit·iekpolitical)

Etymology (stratum) Classic
English equivalent -ic; -(a)tic-ical
Dutch equivalent -isch

Afrikaans -ies behaves the same as Dutch -isch.

This description of -ies is based by and large on Kempen (1969) and De Haas and Trommelen (1993).

[+] Phonological and orthographic properties

-ies is a cohering suffix and does not bear stress. It attracts the main stress of the base, which ends up in the syllable before the suffix: drama/ˈdra.ma/drama > drama·t·ies/draˈma.tis/dramatic.

With regard to the orthography of Afrikaans, rule 9.20 in the AWS states that derivations with proper names as bases, using -is, -isme, -ist·iek and -ist·ies could be written with either an initial upper case or lower case letter (e.g. Angl·is·ist·ies or angl·is·ist·iesAnglicistic).

[+] Semantic properties

The meaning relation between the base and the resulting adjective is consistent: [quality related to SEM(X)] (e.g. simbol·ies[quality related to symbol]symbolic); or simply [related to SEM(X)] (e.g. osean·ies[related to ocean]oceanic).

When the semantics allows it, -ies adjectives can appear in the comparative and the superlative, e.g. hy is krit·ies·er as syhe is more critical than she.

[+] Input

The suffix -ies attaches to nouns (e.g. allotrop·ies[[allotroop](N)[ies](ADJZ)](A)allotropic), proper names (e.g. Nuwe Testament·ies[[Nuwe Testament](PR)[ies](ADJZ)](A)New Testamentical), or roots (e.g. opt·ies[[opt](root)[ies](ADJZ)](A)optic).

It rarely attaches to Germanic bases; the only examples are film·iescinematic, wett·ieslaw-abiding, and the obsolete af·god·iesidolatrous.

[+] Output

-ies is an adjectiviser. Words ending in -ies can usually also function as adverbs.

Adjectives in -ies are not available for further derivation by means of suffixation. However, derived forms with negative prefixes occur regularly, such as on- (e.g. on·log·iesillogical; on·krit·iesuncritical); and nie- (e.g. nie·-·Asia·t·iesnon-Asian). Similar forms with non-native prefixes, such as a- (e.g. a·simmetr·iesasymmetric) usually have been borrowed as a whole.

Nominalization by means of conversion does not occur for -ies adjectives, but there is a systematic correlation between adjectives in -ies and nouns in -iek:

Table 2
krit·iescritical krit·iekcriticism
trag·iestragic trag·iektragedy
problem·at·iesproblematic problem·at·iekdifficulty

Prenominal attributive adjectives in -ies are always inflected with the attributive -e (e.g. outokrat·ies·e stylautocratic style).

[+] Schema(ta) and/or paradigm(s)
  1. [[x](N|PR|root)[ies](ADJZ)](A)

    -ies combines with a noun (N), proper noun (PR), or root.

    Example 1

    [Other examples include: wett·ieslaw-abiding; film·iescinematic; simbol·iessymbolic; osean·iesoceanic; eksemplar·iesexemplary]
    Example 2

    [Other examples include: achill·ies Achillean; And·ies Andean; hippokrat·iesHippocratic; Frank·iesFranconian; Kopt·iesCoptic]
    Example 3

    [Other examples include: a·kinet·iesakinetic; choler·iescholeric; genet·iesgenetic; kom·iescomic, funny]

    When combining with roots or nouns from Classical origin, various morphonological changes can be observed.

    • When the base ends in schwa, the vowel is deleted before -ies: metodemethod > metod·iesmethodical.
    • The final vowel of the base is often lengthened: ikon/ˈi.kɔn/icon > ikon·ies/iˈko.nis/iconic; alfabet/ˈɑl.fɑ.bɛt/alphabet > alfabet·ies/ɑl.fɑˈbe.tis/alphabetic.
    • In a few cases, the final schwa of the base is changed into a full vowel: apostel/ɑˈpɔ.stəl/apostle > apostol·ies/ɑ.pɔˈsto.lis/apostolic.
    • We also observe s-t alternation, a change of stress and lengthening of the last vowel of the base in cases like chaos/ˈxa.ʔɔs/chaos > chaot·ies/xaˈʔo.tis/chaotic. Other examples include erot·ieserotic; ellipt·ieselliptic; skept·iessceptic; sintakt·iessyntactic. It is also noticable in words ending in the Classic confix -kras·ie-crac·y: outo·kras·ie/œu.tu.krɑˈsi/autocracy > outo·krat·ies/œu.tuˈkra.tis/autocracy; aristo·kras·ie/ɑ.rə.stu.krɑˈsi/aristocracy > aristo·krat·ies/ɑ.rə.stuˈkra.tis/aristocratic. We can therefore postulate the following schema for words like aristo·krat·ies.
      Example 4

      > >
      [hide extra information]

      There is only one word in Afrikaans ending in the Classic confix -sinkrasie-syncrasy (literallytemperament, mixture of personal characteristics (Etymonline)), viz. idio·sinkrasieidiosyncrasy. When the affix -ies attaches to idio·sinkrasie it follows the same pattern as other words ending in -kras·ie, despite the fact that -sinkrasie and -kras·ie are semantically unrelated: idio·sinkrasieidiosyncrasy > idio·sinkrat·iesidiosyncratic.

    • When a noun of Greek origin ends in the root -gnose, vowel shortening and t insertion occur; for example dia·gnose/di.ɑgˈno.sə/diagnosis > dia·gnost·ies/di.ɑgˈnɔs.tis/diagnostic, and pro·gnose/prɔxˈno.sə/prognosis > pro·gnost·ies/prɔxˈnos.tis/prognostic.
    • When -ies attaches to nouns of Greek origin ending in se (irrespective of the original root), it is replaced by t; see psig·osepsychosis > psig·ot·iespsychoticbelow. Other examples include hipo·tet·ieshypothetical; genet·iesgenetic; sim·bio·t·iessymbiotic; analit·iesanalytical.
      Example 5

      > >
  2. [[x...ie](N)[s](ADJZ)](A)

    Due to identical vowel deletion, -ies is changed to -s when the base ends on ie, for example:

    Example 6

    akadem·ie /ɑ.kɑˈde.mi / academy  > akadem·ie·s /ɑ.kɑˈde.mis / academic

    In most cases, stress is corrected (shifted) when -s is added, while a vowel change can also be observed in some cases, for example:

    Example 7

    ana·log·ie /ɑ.nɑ.luˈxi/ analogy   > ana·log·ie·s /ɑ.nɑˈlo.xis/ analogical
  3. [[x](N|PR|root)[y](LK)[ies](ADJZ)](A)

    • With N as base: alarm·ist·iesalarmist; drama·t·iesdramatic
    • With PR as base: darwin·ist·iesDarwinian; drako·n·iesdraconian
    • With root as base: ekstrem·ist·iesextremist; bio·n·iesbionic

    Base words and stems that combine with -ies exhibit various alternations typical of non-native stem allomorphy, of which the insertion of interfixes is the most prominent; witness the examples from here to here.

    Example 8

    [Common nouns and roots can serve as bases before the interfix -ar-; with common noun: legend·ar·ieslegendary < legendelegend; eksempl·ar·iesexemplary < eksemplaarexample; tabell·ar·iestabular < tabeltable; with root: agr·ar·iesagrarian; sekt·ar·iessectarian; veget·ar·iesvegetarian]
    Example 9

    [Other examples include: diagramm·at·iesdiagrammatic; programm·at·iesprogrammatic; emblem·at·iesemblematic; simptom·at·iessymptomatic; sistem·at·iessystematic]
    Example 10

    [When -ies attaches to nouns of Greek origin ending in ma, the interfix -t- is used; other examples include: aroma·t·iesaromatic; dogma·t·iesdogmatic; skema·t·iesschematic; tema·t·iesthematic.]
    Example 11

    [Proper names, common nouns and roots can serve as bases before the interfix -n-; with proper name: drako·n·iesdraconian (from the Greek statesman Drako); with common noun: bi·ëmbrio·n·iesbi-embryonic; with root: bio·n·iesbionic]
    Example 12

    [Proper names, common nouns and roots can serve as bases before the interfix -t-; with proper name: Asia·t·iesAsian; with common noun: kameleon·t·ieschameleonic; with root: ekso·t·iesexotic; fantas·t·iesfantastic]
    [One should not confuse examples like alchem·ist·iesalchemistic and gimn·ast·iesgymnastic with this category; the latter should rather be analysed as [[[gimn](root)[ast](NMLZ)](N)[ies](ADJZ)](ADJ], and where the final t of gimn·ast is normally deleted through general Afrikaans phonological processes.]

    In complex bases, the relation is often one of affix replacement rather than addition, compare krit·iekcriticism > krit·iescritical. The direction of the derivation cannot always be ascertained. Yet other instances do not show any relation to other existing words; witness forms such as drastiesdrastic, or sporadiessporadic.

    [hide extra information]

    Note the following paradigms:

    Table 3
    akoestiekacoustics akoestikusacoustician akoestiesacoustical
    chemiechemistry chemikuschemist chemieschemical
    morfologiemorphology morfoloogmorphologist morfologiesmorphological
    altruïsmealtruism altruïsaltruist altruïstiesaltruistic
    Ø akrobaatacrobat akrobatiesacrobatic
    antiekantique antikwaarantiquary antikwariesantiquarian
    biokinetikabiokinetics biokintetikusbiokineticist kinetiesbiokinetic
    alkoholalcohol alkoholisalcoholic alkoholiesalcoholic
[+] Productivity

Adjectivisation with the suffix -ies is a common process. However, its productivity is difficult to ascertain because it mostly occurs with bases or roots from Classic origin, which form a relatively closed, even if large, list. (See Kempen 1971:505-506.) Yet, we can state correspondences such as that -ies adjectives are systematically available for nouns ending in -is, e.g. out·isautist > out·ist·iesautistic, as well as for many nouns ending in -iek, e.g. atlet·iekathletics > atlet·iesathletic.

The suffix -ies often competes with -iek; compare the following examples from the AWS: alfa·numer·iek or alfa·numer·iesalphanumeric; artist·iek or artist·iesartistic; balsem·iek or balsam·iesbalsamic; fanat·iek or fanat·iesfanatic; fis·iek or fis·iesphysical; ident·iek or ident·iesidentical; lakon·iek or lakon·ieslaconic; log·ist·iek or log·ist·ieslogistical; melan·chol·iek or melan·chol·iesmelancholic; numer·iek or numer·iesnumerical; polit·iek or polit·iespolitical.

[+] Etymology

Afrikaans -ies relates to Dutch -isch, English -ic, and French -ique, from Latin -icus, or cognate Greek -ikosin the manner of; pertaining to (Etymonline).

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Kempen, W1969Samestelling, afleiding en woordsoortelike meerfunksionaliteit in Afrikaans.Nasou
  • Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. Taalkommissie2009Afrikaanse woordelys en spelreëls.Pharos
  • Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns. Taalkommissie2009Afrikaanse woordelys en spelreëls.Pharos
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