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Stratal restrictions

Afrikaans is typologically categorised as an Indo-European, West Germanic, Low Franconian language. Like in Dutch, the Afrikaans lexicon and word formation processes can be divided into two primary layers or strata: a native (Germanic, specifically Low Saxon-Low Franconian) stratum, and a non-native (Classic, i.e. Latin and Ancient Greek) one. However, other languages also had an influence on the genesis of Afrikaans. An important secondary, native substratum is the English substratum, while secondary, non-native substrata of the Afrikaans lexicon include a Khoe substratum (mainly Cape Khoekhoe and Nama/Khoekhoegowab), a Creole Portuguese substratum, a Malay substratum, and a Bantu substratum (Coetzee 1987;Combrink 1990:365).

Derivational processes in Afrikaans are especially sensitive to the two primary strata. A general rule of thumb is that affixes of non-native origin attach to bases of non-native origin, while native affixes attach to both native and non-native bases. However, non-native prefixes often combine more freely with native and non-native bases, in contrast with non-native suffixes that have a stronger preference to combine only with non-native bases. For example, the non-native prefix infra- combines with both the non-native noun struktuurstructure > infra·struktuurinfrastructure, and with the native adjective rooired > infra·rooiinfrared. In contrast, the non-native confix-logie combines exclusively with non-native bases, as can be illustrated parallel to the native confix -kunde (originally an independent word, which developed into a confix):

Table 1
Base Derived word with native -kunde Derived word with non-native -logie
Native stratum: dieranimal dier·kundezoology *dier·o·logie
Native stratum: wisknow.PST wis·kundemathematics *wis·o·logie
Non-native stratum: insekinsect insekt·e·kundeentomology insekt·o·logieentomology
Non-native stratum: klimaatclimate klimaat·kundeclimatology klimat·o·logieclimatology

In some cases, non-native affixes underwent phonological or orthographical changes to such a degree that they look and behave like native affixes, and we can therefore say that they have been nativised (Grant 2012:116). A prime example is nominalising -yn, which is used to form person names (e.g. praktis·ynpractitioner). This suffix derives from French -in, and ultimately from Latin -inus or -ina.

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Phonological properties (or cues) of morphemes from the Classic stratum include:

  • While roots often contain only one full vowel (e.g. strukt-), stems always contain at least two full vowels (e.g. strukt·uur).
  • Suffixes often are cohering and stress-bearing, e.g. strukt·uur/strœkˈtyr/[[strukt](root)[uur](NMLZ)](N)structure.
  • Suffixes always contain a full vowel, and often are vowel-initial, e.g. -uur. If a suffix is not vowel-initial, it tends to require a linking morpheme when combining with a root, e.g. -ment in depart·e·mentdepartment.

The division of the lexicon and word formation processes in different strata does not suggest that speakers know the historical origin of words, stems, roots and suffixes, or that they overtly use such stratum information to form new words. It should rather be seen as covert background information that plays an important role in online word formation processing. Moreover, it should be noted that many complex words with non-native morphology have been borrowed in their entirety (Bauer, Lieber and Plag 2013:35), rather than being formations of Afrikaans. For example, we might be able to analyse words like ambassad·eurambassador and ambassad·risefemale ambassador as complex words with the suffixes -eur and -rise, but that does not mean that these words have been formed in Afrikaans. Rather, they have been borrowed in their entirety via Dutch from French. Unless it can be proven that new Afrikaans words are formed using these suffixes, they should be considered unproductive in Afrikaans.

The lists below of non-native prefixes and suffixes in Afrikaans should therefore not necessarily be seen as lists of productive affixes, but rather of non-native affixes that could be identified in words that became part of the Afrikaans lexicon. Some of these might of course very well be productive in Afrikaans, such as the suffix -ees that is used productively to derive inhabitant names (i.e. person names) from geographical names (e.g. place names), e.g. Tshwane·esinhabitant of Tshwane.

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The description of the non-native morphology of Afrikaans is based on the Dutch topic on non-native morphology.

Read more on Afrikaans (and Dutch) non-native morphology:

[+]Classic prefixes in Afrikaans

Classic prefixes tend to be morphologically promiscuous, in that there are very few Classic prefixes that attach to Classic bases only. The table illustrates this for some of the Classic prefixes that attach to native bases.

Table 2
Classic prefix Example with native base
anti- anti·godsdienstiganti-religious
kontra- kontra·gewigcounterweight
eks- eks·manex-husband
hiper- hiper·gevoelighypersensitive
infra- infra·rooiinfra-red
meta- meta·taalmetalanguage
mikro- mikro·golfmicrowave
mono- mono·toonmonotonous
pre- pre-BTW-pryspre-VAT price
pro- pro-Afrikaanspro-Afrikaans
pseudo- pseudo·wetenskappseudo-science
semi- semi·soetsemi-sweet
sub- sub·groepsubgroup
super- super·gaafvery nice
turbo- turbo·aangejaagturbocharged
ultra- ultra·sagultra soft
vise- vise·voorsittervice-chairman

However, there are other Classic prefixes that combine with Classic stems only. Compare for instance the Classic negation prefix in- (which only combines with Classic stems), with its native counterpart on- (which combine with both native and some non-native stems):

Table 3
Stratum of the stem Derived word with native on- Derived word with Classic in-
Classic *onhumaaninhuman inhumaaninhuman
Classic onstabielunstable instabielunstable
Germanic onaardigunfriendly *inaardig
Germanic ongesondunhealthy *ingesond

Similar restrictions hold for prefixes like a- (as in a·sosiaalasocial), non- (as in non·verbaalnon-verbal), and de- (as in desentraaldecentralised).

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The reason for the promiscuity of many of the non-native prefixes is that they form prosodic words of their own, and therefore have word-like appearances. These prefix + word combinations are thus similar to compounds, which can consist of a non-native and native word.

The word-like status of some of these Classic prefixes is illustrated by their development into independent words.

Example 1

a. Al die debatte pro of anti is eweneens aan my bekend.
All the debates pro and anti are known to me as well.
b. Tienermeisie dreig om Bieber se eks te vermoor
Teenage girl threatens to murder Bieber's ex
c. Thanks, Elke, Deidré, dit was super, konings of te not.
Thanks, Elke, Deidré, that was super, even despite the kings.
d. Ek stel nog nie belang in mikro en makro nie.
I'm still not interested in micro and macro.

Non-native prefixes are also found in complex words with non-native roots that are not lexemes, e.g. eks·kus·eerto excuse (where *kus·eer is not a lexeme), and sub·vers·ief subversive (where *vers·ief is not a lexeme).

Morphemes like pseudo- and bio- are called combining forms or confixes because they need some morphological complement in order to be usable. Many Classic confixes now function as prefixes, since they productively combine with both native and non-native stems, as in pseudo·gewelfpseudo-arch (native) and pseudo·miksoompseudo-myxoma (non-native), or bio·brandstofbio-fuel (native) and bio·logiebiology (non-native).

[+]Classic suffixes in Afrikaans

Classic suffixes combine either with roots or stems. Compare for instance the suffix -aal that combines with the root radik- in radik·aal radical, or with the stem dokt·or in doktor·aaldoctoral. A number of non-native suffixes (almost) only co-occur with roots, such as -ans in stimul·ansincentive.

The following table contains a list of some of the most prominent non-native suffixes in Afrikaans words, not all of which are necessarily still productive.

Table 4
Suffix Input category Output category Example
-aal N A doktor·aaldoctoral
-aan N N Luther·aanLutheran
-aat N N doktor·aatdoctorate
-abel root A present·abelpresentable
-ade root N seren·adeserenade
-ans root N stimul·ansincentive
-ant V N predik·antclergyman
-aris N N bibliotek·arislibrarian
-arius root N ordin·ariusfull professor
-as root N gimn·asgymnast
-asie root N organis·asieorganisation
-asme root N sark·asmesarcasm
-eel N A departement·eeldepartmental
-een N (place name) N Chil·eenChilean
-eer N V debatt·eerdebate
-ees N (place name) N Taiwann·eesTaiwanese
-ein N N republik·einrepublican
-ent root N dos·entteacher, lecturer
-êr (Dutch -air) N A famili·êrdocumentary
-erie N N parfum·erieperfume shop
-esk N A kafka·eskKafkaesque
-esse N N sekretar·essesecretary
-et root N okt·etoctet
-ette N N oper·etteoperetta
-eur N N ambassad·eurambassador
-eus N A ambis·i·eusambitious
-ide N N brom·idebromide
-ie root N aggress·ieaggression
-iek root N fonet·iekphonetics
-iek root A fanat·iekfanatical
-ier N N juwel·ierjeweller
-ies N A algebra·ïesalgebraic
-iet N N meteor·ietmeteorite
-ine A N blond·ineblonde
-ioen root N vis·ioenvision
-isme A N absurd·ismeabsurdism
-is N N propagand·ispropagandist
-is root N bas·isbase
-itis root N bronch·itisbronchitis
-oot N N psig·ootpsychotic
-ment root N rend·e·mentprofit
-teit root N majes·teitmajesty
-yn N (place name) N Argent·ynArgentinian

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In many cases, the base of a non-native suffix has a form that is different from the corresponding lexeme. For instance, the adjective viraal viral can be said to have the lexeme virusvirus as its base, since vir- can be considered a stem allomorph of virus.

[+]Classic affixes combining with native bases

The generalisation that suffixes of non-native origin attach to bases of non-native origin has two sorts of exceptions. Firstly, creative language use occasionally coins words with native stems and non-native suffixes or combining forms. Examples are Kuifie·logieTintinology (the study of the fictional character KuifieTintin), or Nuwe Testament·o·logiestudy of the New Testament (TK).

Secondly, some non-native affixes have been introduced into Afrikaans (via Dutch) at such an early stage that they combine with native stems in a natural way. Two examples are the suffix -asie (French -age) in words with native bases like lekk·asieleakage , and pakk·asieluggage; caboodle; or the suffix -ier in words with native bases like winkel·iershop keeper, and tuin·iergardener.

[+]Classic and native affixes in combination

When a complex word contains both non-native and native suffixes, the order of these suffixes is always such that the non-native suffix precedes the native suffix. This follows from the constraint that non-native suffixes normally attach to non-native stems. As the suffix determines the subcategory to which a word belongs, a +native suffix will render the whole word +native, which means it will not be available for non-native suffixation.

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The important theoretical implication of this account is that we do not need the mechanism of level ordering (with the level of non-native affixation ordered before that of native affixation) for morphological purposes. This kind of level ordering has been defended in early generative studies of English morphology (cf. Spencer 1991:79ff). A general discussion of level ordering can be found in Booij (2000), while Booij (1995:124) argues that there is also no phonological argument for level ordering of this kind.

This account can also handle so-called morphological bracketing paradoxes. For instance, the noun on·grammat·ik·al·i·teitungrammaticality has been derived from the adjective on·grammat·ik·aalungrammatical, and this adjective in its turn has been derived from grammat·ik·aalgrammatical. The word can therefore be analysed as follows: [[[on](CN)[[grammatika](N)[aal](ADJZ)](ADJ)](ADJ)[i](LK)[teit](NMLZ)](N). As is indicated with the brackets, native affixation has preceded non-native affixation. This is a problem in a theory of level ordering in which all non-native morphology is ordered before all native morphology. In the account outlined above, however, the adjective on·grammat·ik·aal remains -native because the prefix on- is not category-determining, and hence does not make on·grammat·ik·aal a native-like word. Therefore, it is still possible to attach the -native suffix -iteit to the complex adjective.

[+]Classic affixes and paradigmatic word formation

Complex words with root suffixes can have two sources: They have either been borrowed as a whole, or created paradigmatically. In paradigmatic word formation, a non-native suffix is replaced with another one, based on a network of relations between non-native complex words.

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The participation of a word in a morphological network is a reason to analyse it as formally complex even though not all of its constituents may be available individually. For instance, in re·duks·iereduction we recognise the morphological structure [[re][duks][ie]], because the root -duks- (from Latin ducereto bring) also appears in examples like pro·duks·ieproduction, in·duks·ieinduction, de·duks·iededuction, etc. Similarly, in fanat·iekfanatical we recognise a root fanat- and a suffix -iek, because the root recurs in the related words fanat·ismefanaticism and fanat·ik·usfanatic. Another reason to assign an internal morphological structure to such words is that their suffixes, as in ordinary derivations, allow predictions about the word class. A good example is sentr·aalcentral, where the suffix -aal predicts that the word is an adjective.

Direct borrowings (sometimes with adaptations) from the Classic stratum oftentimes belong to a more formal, academic or technical register of usage, and new coinings by language users occur due to a meta-linguistic awareness of word structures. Numerous non-native suffixes have thus become productive in Afrikaans, for instance -eer, -esk, -(i)aan, -ies, -(is)eer, -isme, -is, and -(i)teit.

Non-native suffixes are also used productively in derivations of proper nouns such as person names, geographical names, and the like. In such cases, the base could be from any of the (sub-)strata.

Example 2

a. Chomsk·i·aan
b. balkan·is·eer
c. Bruegel·esk
like the style of Bruegel
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From a paradigmatic (a.k.a. Word-and-Paradigm) perspective we note various cross-stratum phenomena. Compare for example the denominal adjectiviser -aans, as in Fidji·aansFijian; relating to Fiji or its people, language, or culture. From a morpheme-based (a.k.a. Item-and-Arrangement) approach this example should strictly speaking be analysed as [[[Fidji](PR)[aan](NMLZ)](N)[s](ADJZ)](A), where FidjiaanFijian; inhabitant of Fiji is formed first by means of the Classic nominaliser -aan, and only then followed by the Germanic adjectiviser -s. Such an analysis is problematic in two regards:

  1. Since Fidji·aan·s is derived from Fidji·aan, logically it should be paraphrased as relating to people from Fiji. This is not true, since Fidjiaans means relating to Fiji or its people, language, or culture. Compare for instance Fidjiaanse dollar that refers to the currency of Fiji, and not the currency of the people from Fiji.
  2. In other, similar derived words, such as AmerikaansAmerican; related to America or its people, or culture, such an analysis is impossible, since *Amerikaan is not a valid word in Afrikaans.

Instead, if we acknowledge -aans from a paradigmatic perspective as an adjectiviser of proper names, and accept that it is a fusion of the Classic suffix -aan and the Germanic suffix -s, we can accept -aans as a productive morpheme in Afrikaans, rendering analyses such as [[Fidji](PR)[aans](ADJZ)](A), and [[Amerika](PR)[aans](ADJZ)](A) possible.

  • Bauer, Laurie, Lieber, Rochelle & Plag, Ingo2013The Oxford Reference Guide to English MorphologyOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Booij, Geert2000The phonology-morphology interfaceCheng, Lisa & Sybesma, Rint (eds.)The first Glot International state-of-the-article book. The latest in linguisticsBerlinMouton de Gruyter287-306
  • Coetzee, A.E1987Morfologiese aspekte van stratumkenmerke in die Afrikaanse leksikon.South African Journal of Linguistics51-23
  • Combrink, J.G.H1990Afrikaanse morfologie: capita exemplaria.Academica
  • Grant, A. 2012Copies versus Cognates in Bound MorphologyJohanson, L. and Robbeets, M. (ed.)Bound morphology in English (and beyond): copy or cognate?Leiden: Brill99-122
  • Spencer, Andrew1991Morphological Theory: An introduction to Word Structure in Generative GrammarOxfordBlackwell
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