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-schap (de)

The Germanic suffix -schap [sχɑp] is found in nouns of common gender derived from nouns, adjectives or verbs. The process is not productive. If based on a noun, the resulting nouns may have an abstract meaning (e.g. vriendschap friendship) or a more concrete one de broederschap the fraternity. If based on an adjective, the meaning is the state of being A (e.g. dronkenschap drunkenness), and if the base is verbal, a general semantics is hard to give (compare weddenschap bet < wedden to wager with wetenschap science < weten to know).

Schema 1:

the function of being N or group of N

Schema 2:

the state of being A

Schema 3:

the activity of V

-schap-suffixation respects the stress pattern of the base word, the suffix bears secondary stress. This suffix can be attached productively to nouns referring to persons, and creates non-neuter nouns with the meaning the function of being N. In addition, there are closed sets of non-neuter nouns in -schap based on either nouns or adjectives, and with different meanings, the set of N’s and the property of being A, respectively.

Table 1
stem -schap derivation
ridder .N knight ridderschap knighthood, chivalry
vijand .N enemy vijandschap enmity
zwanger .A pregnant zwangerschap pregnancy
verwant .A related verwantschap relatedness
wedden .V to wager weddenschap bet
weten .V to know wetenschap science

[+]General information

Note that Dutch also has a productive affix -schap, creating nouns of neuter gender such as (het) moederschap maternity (< moeder mother). Historically, both affixes go back to one affix, which derives from a female noun related to modern scheppen to create as a right-hand compound part (see Etymologiebank).

[+]Morphosyntactic properties

The Germanic suffix -schap [sχɑp] forms nouns of common gender. They take the definite article de. The input can be of various categories (De Haas and Trommelen 1993: 252-3)

  • Noun: Two subtypes can be distinguished: on the one hand there are abstract nouns like vijandschap enmity and kameraadschap companionship that pattern semantically with formations with the other suffix -schap but are of common gender. On the other hand there are a number of collective nouns in -schap, based on person denoting nouns, e.g. broederschap fraternity and ridderschap knighthood, chivalry.
  • Adjective: A few -schap formations are on the basis of Germanic adjectives, e.g. zwangerschap pregnancy (< zwanger pregnant) and verwantschap affiliation, kinship (< verwant related).
  • Verb: -schap is also found attached to infinitival forms of Germanic verbs (rather than their stems). Cases in point are wetenschap science (< weten to know) and weddenschap bet (< wedden to wager).

[hide extra information]

Denominal (de) boodschap message (< bode messenger) and (het) landschap landscape (< land land, country) are completely lexicalized and have an opaque semantics. Boodschap moreover developed another, unexpected meaning, viz., shopping, groceries, as in boodschappen doen shoppings do go shopping.

Given that infinitival forms of verbs can be used as nouns (het roken van sigaren the some.INF of cigars the smoking of cigars), the deverbal derivations allow for an alternative analysis as denominal. The form rekenschap account, accountability (< rekenen calculate) is exceptional as it takes the stem of the verb rather than the full infinitive. This might be a case of haplology.

The original base category of eigen own in eigenschap property is historically unclear.

[+]Phonological properties

-schap is a non-cohering suffix. -schap-suffixation respects the stress pattern of the base word, the suffix bears secondary stress.

[hide extra information]

Deverbal na'latenschap legacy (< 'nalaten bequeath) is exceptional in showing stress shift.

[+]Inflectional properties

Many -schap formations do not have a plural, due to their abstract meaning, but if applicable, the plural is in -en, e.g. wetenschappen sciences, eigenschappen properties, boodschappen messages, shopping.

[+]Morphological potential

Some -schap formations have a diminutive form in (regular) -je: ballingschapje brief exile, nalatenschapje small legacy. A few derivations with unproductive -schap can be input to other derivational processes, e.g. adjective formation by means of the affix -elijk (vriendschappelijk friendly, wetenschappelijk scientific) or agent noun formation by means of -er (e.g. wetenschapper scientist < wetenschap science, boodschapper messenger (note that shopper is not a possible reading, although boodschap also has the meaning shopping, groceries). Some -schap formations are quite frequent as right-hand parts of nominal compounds, as in kerstboodschap christmas message and karaktereigenschap character property.

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij