affectionate affixes, deformation of proper names

ThomasK

Senior Member
Belgium, Dutch
I have been wondering about affixes in Dutch, that are used to express affection. I mean: we have the affixes called diminutives (in Dutch Bart-je, in Flemish also Paul-ke, like the German Gret-chen oder Häns-el (etc.). In English it does not exist as such, I think, but the same is expressed by short forms (Robert/ Bob, Edward/ Ted, ...), sometimes followed by -y.

That reminds me of a phenomenon we have/ had in our dialect here: boys' names were followed by -ie, in colloquial language. That looked like an insult to some, but I think it basically betrayed affection or at least a distinct feeling of recognition as someone special (be it neg. or pos.).

[Other things referrring to affection (or recognition) could be adding a definite article or determiner (as in former (Belgian) Brabant, I think): 'den Ben', like the German 'der Karl'. But maybe we ought to focus on real 'alterations' of names]

So I thought that changing (or 'doing something to') proper names is some kind of universal token of affection - by 'particularizing' a particular (loved - or hated ?) person's name. (I think I recognize that 'urge' with me...) Do you recognize that in your language ? Or is my hypothesis falsified rightaway ?

But the ie-phenomenon did not turn up with girls names, I think.
 
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  • Saluton

    Banned
    Russian
    Perhaps you're right. We have a lot of such suffixes in Russian: -чка (-chka, for both genders), -ик, -чик (-ik, -chik, only for boys), -нька (-nka, mostly for girls), -иша, -уша (-isha, -usha, for both genders). The first three are used as diminutive suffixes for common nouns as well...
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks for the information, but it would be more interesting even if one or more of those suffixes or affixes were not dimininutives. The Flemish -ie for example is not a diminutive, I think - or must be consider the English suffix -y in Teddy, Bobby, a suffix ? I don' think so. Can anyone shed a light on it ? (In English there is only have little, I think, as in little boy, a lexical but not a synthetic (?) diminutive...)
     

    Nizo

    Senior Member
    I'm not sure how common it is in other languages, but Esperanto does have “affectionate” affixes that are not diminutive. The masculine affix is -ĉj- and the feminine is -nj-. These can be used with common nouns or with personal names. See the following examples:


    frato (brother) > fraĉjo (bro)
    fratino (sister) > franjo (sis)
    patro (father) > paĉjo (dad, papa)
    patrino (mother) > panjo (mom, mum, mama)
    onklo (uncle) > oĉjo (unc)
    avino (grandmother) > avinjo (grandma)
    onklino (aunt) > onjo
    Petro > Peĉjo
    Vilhelmo > Vilĉjo
    Johano > Joĉjo
    Mario > Manjo
    Sofio > Sonjo


    They're placed at the end of a word, but there is no rule as to what precedes them; this is based on sound and personal preference.


    In contrast, the diminutive affix is -et-. Which is usually used with common nouns, adjectives, and verbs. It can be considered affectionate as well.


    frato (brother) > frateto (little brother, younger brother)
    avino (grandmother) > avineto (granny, little old woman)
    urbo (city) > urbeto (town)
    domo (house) > dometo (little house)
    blua (blue) > blueta (bluish)
    fali (to fall) > faleti (to stumble)
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The -et- is not so convincing to me; it looks like an extra suffix, very much like a diminutive.

    The others are interesting indeed. Strangely enough, they have been 'invented' so to speak, whereas the West-european languages I know do not have 'definite', 'clear-cut' affective affixes besides diminutives, or so I think.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Of course those are nicknames. Or 'expressive' names. I discovered fragments of Semantics, Culture, and Cognition: Universal Human Concepts in Culture ...
    (Anna Wierzbicka)
    where 10 kinds of expressive variations ('deformations') are listed in Russian.

    And those are not diminutives, it seems to me...
     
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    Kangy

    Senior Member
    Argentina [Spanish]
    Spanish has many of them, which vary according to the region/country, and even many speakers invent their own! :)

    We generally use the diminutive when we want to convey an affectionate meaning. The most common diminutive suffix is -ito/-ita, followed by -illo/-illa, -ín/-ina, -ico/-ica, etc...

    casa (house) - casita
    café (coffee) - cafecito
    perro (dog) - perrito
    hermano (brother) - hermanito
    Carlos - Carlitos
    Juana - Juanita

    And so on...
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Now that would be interesting: to hear about the 'idiosyncratic' expressive variations - and to see along what lines native speakers in your country are creative without using 'clear-cut' diminutives (as now you are giving examples of diminutives).

    So could you give some original expressive variants (Argentinian, Spanish, ...) ?

    I suppose we shall end up finding out that we 'particularise' proper names in all kinds of ways, if we consider someone very 'particular' or special to us...
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Personally I think it exists in most European languages. It would be interesting to find out if it also exists in non-European languages (Japanes, Chinese).
    As for Hungarian we have -i, -ka/-ke and many others. And we also can use definitve articles in front of personal names giving them some affection.

    Károly (Charles) - Karcsi - Karcsika
    Pál (Paul) - Pali - Palika
    Mária - Mari - Marika - Mariska
    Erzsébet (Elisabeth) - Bözsi - Erzsi - Erzsike
     

    Kanes

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    In Bulgarian, for a man, you put a femminen affix 'ka', for a woman you put neutral one.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting addition: 'feminizing' suffixes for men, next to diminutives and other suffixes or changes... But then : does the so-called neutral affix have a meaning, Kanes ? Is it a diminutive ?
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Since feminizing suffixes are common in Slavic languages I can make some comments. They don't have any meaning. But feminizing suffixes are common also in other languages and I bet even in Dutch. :)
    Czech also uses those feminizing suffixes (-ka, -kyně, etc.)
    teacher = učitel - učitelka
    doctor = lékař - lékařka
    chairman = předseda - předsedkyně

    I'm not sure about the Dutch feminizing suffixes but you might know the German: Arzt - Ärztin, Lehrer - Lehrerin, Freund - Freundin. Does this not exist in Dutch??

    & maybe you'll find it interesting but some languages (Slavic, Italian) use the opposite of diminutives (I have no idea what they call it) and it makes a bigger meaning out the original word.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Good Lord, you're right. Of course there are feminine suffixes, but i had not associated them with affection, that is the point. Are you implying that you use them in your language with an affectionate meaning ? (We can only use diminutives with that effect)

    Is 'augmentatives' the right word ? But I have never heard of such suffixes. How interesting ! (So far I cannot imagine we have them in Dutch or other Germanic languages, but I am not an expert. I did find the word with that meaning at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmentative. I see prefixes - or separate words - mentioned, but that is not so special... Of course Latin -ose would be some kind of augmentative, but to me it is not because it derives an adjective from a noun, not from another adjective...) But do augmentatives have a positive (!) affectionate connotation in Slavic languages ?
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    This is common in Portuguese: Pedro --> Pedrito, Joana --> Joaninha, etc.

    Usage is like in Spanish.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Even 'old' then... Yes, I can imagine something the like in Dutch: ouwe, implying something like 'It is like we have known each other for years'...

    Well, find a Japanese, Encolpius ! I might try to myself !
     
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    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    According to the internet:

    -chan and -kun are two diminutives that are commonly used for people. -chan is used with girls, and -kun with boys. So, for example, a boy named Akihiro would frequently be called Akihiro-kun by his parents or other elders. A girl named Emiko would be Emiko-chan.

    This continues even into adulthood, especially in informal settings. Older man may refer to male subordinates, like in an office, as -kun.

    Meanwhile, these can also be used with animals and such. "Neko" means "cat," but "neko-chan" essentially means "cute little cat."
     
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    Hiro Sasaki

    Banned
    Japan, Japanese
    Hmm, I don't think this exists in Chinese, or if it does, then I am not aware of it.
    I think that 小姐 is a kind of diminutive which express affection in Chinese. I don't speak chinese.

    "My little" is a kind of diminutive.

    In Japanese, Juanito is Juan chan. But, "chan" does not have
    any connotation of smallness.

    Hiro Sasaki
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    But I do understand it has an affectionate connotation, Hiro - or ... ?

    I know about the -san (in popular movies), which was something like 'Mr', I thought, in English. Or ??? Is there more that can be said about the meaning of 'chan/ chun' ?
     

    Hiro Sasaki

    Banned
    Japan, Japanese
    “Chan” is used for children and girls. It’s an affix which expresses affection but it can not be called “diminutive”, because it does not express “smallness” . It’s only an affix without any particular meaning.

    Hiro Sasaki​
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I think that 小姐 is a kind of diminutive which express affection in Chinese. I don't speak chinese.
    In my experience, you only call someone 小姐 when you don't know that person at all, it's extremely polite, I would only expect people working in the banks or such to call me 小姐, if someone I know calls me that, I would take it as a joke.
     

    lammn

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Cantonese
    I think that 小姐 is a kind of diminutive which express affection in
    Chinese.
    In my experience, you only call someone 小姐 when you don't know that person at all, it's extremely polite, I would only expect people working in the banks or such to call me 小姐, if someone I know calls me that, I would take it as a joke.
    I did not know 小姐 is so polite.
    I don't think 小姐 can be classified as a "diminutive" suffix in Chinese, even though 小姐 is originally used as a suffix for young lady or unmarried woman. I don't know how the term is used in Taiwan, but in Mainland China, avoid calling someone 小姐 as much as possible because in modern Mandarin 小姐 could mean those ladies working in night clubs and similar kinds of service industry.

    As for diminutive prefix in Chinese, 小(xiăo) plus the person's surname is a commonly used diminutive prefix in Mandarin. For example, if someone is young and his/her surname is 叶, then s/he would probably be called 小叶. This is a diminutive prefix and has nothing to do with affection.

    I'm afraid I can't think of any affectionate prefix/suffix in Chinese.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I still think we have something special that is not diminutive, no, more like dysphemistic: the John, or Johnny, Janie, Paulie... It is not that common anymore, but it feels fairly macho even, and it is only for men.
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    The funny thing might be that some of these suffixes or lexical words make it look as if they make something small whereas their only implication is affection. An English speaker need not refer to an objectively small car or boy when referring to "little car/ boy". Some Dutch speaker might translate that literally but that is wrong; one can only render that by using a diminutive (autootje, jongetje). I would not be surprised if that were almost universal.

    Just by the way: the number of "affectionately diminutive" words in Dutch seems to on the rise… In a restaurant or gastronomical context lots of things seem to become "affectionate(ly small)", like: groentjes (vegetables), frietjes (French fries), tafeltje (table), watertje/wijntje/ biertje; But never the bill (rekening)! Yet society seems to become tougher (more macho?)...
     
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