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The suffix -ier derives nouns from nouns. The base can both be Germanic and non-Germanic, in particular French. Examples are koetscoach > koetsiercoachman and kabaretcabaret > kabaretiercomedian. The output can be personal and non-personal names, which may differ both in gender and plurality.

[+] General properties

The suffix -ier can deliver three different output categories: (1) denominal personal names, (2) inhabitant names and (3) non-personal names. The latter category is rather marginal. This qualification applies even more to the set of inhabitant names, which only has one member. Examples are given in the table below:

Table 1
Base form Derivation
Personal names koetscoach koetsiercoachman
kassapay desk kassiercashier
bankbank bankierbanker
aventoeradventure aventurieradventurer
beierdcarillon beierdiercarillon player
brigadebrigade brigadierbrigadier
finânsjesfinance finansiersponsor
gondelgondola gondeliergondolier
griffychancery griffierclerk
harpoenharpoon harpoenierharpooner
leverânsjesupply leveransiersupplier
juwieljewel juwelierjeweller
kanoncanon kanonniergunner
marinenavy mariniermarine
musketmusket musketiermusketeer
passaazjepassage passazjierpassenger
kânselpulpit kânselierchancellor
kabaretcabaret kabaretiercomedian
dûanecustom house dûanierborder guard
sjansonsong sjansonniersinger
Inhabitant names ArabiëArabia ArabierArab; horse of an Arabian species
Non-personal names kwartfourth part kertierquarter
formuleformula formulierform

In case of the personal and inhabitant names the derivations have common gender (de brigadierthe brigadier and de Arabierthe Arab). The gender of non-personal names is neuter, i.e. it kertierthe quarter.

A difference also existst with respect to the selection of a plural morpheme, although the division is different, then. When the derivation is a personal name, it has a plural -s: musketiermusketeer > musketiersmusketeers, juwelierjeweller > juweliersjewellers. With inhabitant names and non-personal names, the plural is in -en: ArabierArab > ArabierenArabs and kertierquarter > kertierenquarters.

[hide extra information]
Two suffixes -ier?

De Haas and Trommelen (1993:181) assume (for Dutch) that there are possibly two suffixes -ier: nouns with common gender with a plural in -s would form one group and neuter nouns with a plural in -en the other. If this idea is taken seriously, then a derivation like portier should have been created by two different suffixes, since there is a lexeme with common gender portier, a personal name meaning porter, and the neuter noun portiercar door, hence a non-personal name. However, both words are only formally complex, as a base *port does not exist.

[+] The allomorph -enier

The suffix has an allomorph -enier, which only occurs in falkenierfalconer (from falkfalcon) and rintenierperson of independent means (from rinteinterest). Both fit in with the properties of the other derived personal names.

[+] Semantic properties

As has been mentioned, there are three output categories of derivations in -ier. Within the first category, the semantic relation between the base form and the derivation is varied. The following examples may illustrate this:

  • a koetsiercoachman is someone who drives a koetscoach;
  • a bankierbanker is someone who works in a bankbank;
  • a finansiersponsor is someone who takes care of the finânsjesfinances;
  • a juwelierjeweller is someone who sells juwielenjewels;
  • a rintenierperson of independent means is someone who can live from rinteinterest;
  • a passazjierpassenger is someone who travels in a vehicle without driving it himself.

This short list shows how varied the relationship between the base noun and the derivation can be. A vague generalisation could be that the derivation is: "someone who does something with {noun}".

The second category, geographical personal names, only contains one word, ArabierArab, which is "an inhabitant of {noun}". The relation between the bases and the derivations of the third category cannot be generalised.

[+] A Germanic suffix?

According to De Haas and Trommelen (1993:166), the suffix is of Germanic origin. In some respects, however, it has deviating characteristics. It bears the main stress, and it may both be attached to native bases (for example koetscoach, kânselpulpit) and non-native ones as brigadebrigade and griffychancery. As a further complication, the base often does not exist independently. In such cases it must be assumed that the derivation is loaned in its entirety. Clear examples are poelierpoulterer, which is related to the French word poulechicken, and kolliernecklace, which comes from the French word colneck. The point expecially applies to some formations in which the suffix has the French pronunciation [je:] instead of native [i.ər]. Examples are kabaretiercomedian and sjansonniersinger. Words like dûanierborder guard and kolliernecklace have both pronunciation possibilities. Apart from the pronunciation, the semantic and morphological properties of such words are comparable, and therefore both variants are treated together here.

[+] Phonological properties

The suffix is pronounced as [i.ər], but sometimes also as French [je:], as has just been noted. The suffix bears the main stress of the word, which results in a stress shift: KOETS > koetSIER, KÂNsel > kânseLIER, etcetera. As can be seen from these examples, the suffix is cohering.

Most of the time, the suffix is just added to the noun: koets[kuts]coach > koetsier[kutsi.ər]coachman. Bases ending in a schwa are truncated, as in marine[marinə]navy > marinier[marini.ər]marine and formule[fɔrmylə]formula > formulier[fɔrmyli.ər]form. As a result of the stress shift we see shortening of long vowels, for instance in leverânsje[le:vərɔ:ⁿsjə]supply > leveransier[le:vərɔⁿsi.ər]supplier, or even reduction to schwa, as in juwiel[jəvi.əl]jewel > juwelier[jyvəli.ər]jeweller. In kertier[kəti.ər]quarter, which is derived from kwartfourth part, we even see a further simplification of the onset (and a regular deletion of /r/ before dental /t/).

[+] Morphological potentials

If the derivations figure as the first part of a compound, a linking element-s- added, as in passazjier-s-dielpassenger's area. The derivations can be input for other suffixes as well, as in aventuriersterfemale adventurer or -leas in in passazjierleas fleantúcha plane without passengers.

[+] Dutch versus Frisian

The suffix -ier also exists in Dutch, in which it has wider possibilities:

  • Dutch scholierpupil is the compound skoalbernschool-childpupil in Frisian (< skoalleschool);
  • Dutch winkeliershopkeeper is the compound winkelmanwinkel-manshopkeeper in Frisian (< winkelshop);
  • Dutch tuiniergardener is a derivation in -er in Frisian: túnkergardener ( < túngarden);
  • Dutch vliegenieraviator is a derivation in -er in Frisian: flean(d)eraviator ( < fleaneto fly).
[hide extra information]

This topic is based on De Haas and Trommelen (1993:179-181), De Haas and Trommelen (1993:214) and Hoekstra (1998:101).

  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Haas, Wim de & Trommelen, Mieke1993Morfologisch handboek van het Nederlands. Een overzicht van de woordvormingSDU Uitgeverij
  • Hoekstra, Jarich1998Fryske wurdfoarmingLjouwertFryske Akademy
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