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The affix -(e)ling /(ə)lɪŋ/ occurs only in three adjectives:

Example 1

a. een mondeling tentamen
een mond-e-ling tentamen
a mouth-e-SUFF examination
an oral examination
b. een onderlinge afspraak
een onder-ling-e afspraak
an under-SUFF-INFL agreement
a mutual agreement
c. een plotselinge bui
een plots-e-ling-e bui
a sudden-e-SUFF-INFL shower
a sudden shower

A possible fourth instance is zonderling odd, which is probably a conversion from the noun zonderling odd character, in which case -ling is here a nominal rather than an adjectival suffix.


The three -ling adjectives all have different stem categories: mondeling oral is derived from the noun mond mouth (with schwa-epenthesis), onderling between/ among persons from the preposition onder below, among and plotseling sudden from the adjective plots sudden (again with schwa-epenthesis). The adjectives inflect normally, but do not express degree for semantic reasons (*mondelinger *more oral). All three adjectives can also be used adverbially:

Example 2

a. we bespreken het mondeling
we talk about it face to face/ on the phone (not in writing)
b. ze regelen het onderling
they organize it among each other
c. het gebeurde plotseling
it happened suddenly

The three adjectives do not serve as input for further derivation, except in the conversion een mondeling an oral examination.