affectionate affixes, deformation of proper names

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Jun 21, 2008.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  2. Saluton Banned

    Moscow, Russia
    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...
  3. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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...)
  4. 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)
  5. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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.
  6. Nizo Senior Member

    You're correct: the -et- in Esperanto is a diminutive affix. I mentioned that above. It can be used affectionately, but it is primarily a diminutive affix.
  7. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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...
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2008
  8. Kangy Senior Member

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    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...
  9. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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...
  10. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    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
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Yes, quite an interesting topic. But how can we get a Japanese or Chinese here ? ;-)
  12. Kanes Senior Member

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

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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 ?
  14. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    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.
  15. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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 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 ?
  16. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    Hmm, I don't think this exists in Chinese, or if it does, then I am not aware of it.
  17. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    But maybe it exists in Japanese. :confused:
  18. Outsider Senior Member

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

    Usage is like in Spanish.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  19. sound shift

    sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    In my father's native East Kent, "old" was used as an affectionate "prefix": "old Cath", "old Bert", etc., irrespective of the person's age.
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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 !
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2008
  21. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    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."
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2008
  22. Hiro Sasaki Banned

    Osaka, Japn
    Japan, Japanese
    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
  23. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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' ?
  24. Hiro Sasaki Banned

    Osaka, Japn
    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​
  25. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Thanks, Hiro. One is tempted of course to link children and 'smallness'...
  26. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    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.
  27. Hiro Sasaki Banned

    Osaka, Japn
    Japan, Japanese
    I did not know is so polite. It’s the same with
    Spanish. They do not use “señorita” ( little lady ) to close friends.

    Hiro Sasaki
  28. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    How about 阿 (ā) as a diminutive prefix?
  29. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    Oh, this is a good one, 阿Fla :thumbsup: :D
  30. lammn

    lammn Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese - Cantonese
    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.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
  31. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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.
  32. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    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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