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Uralic languages::Diminutive

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Uralic languages

Estonian

The diminutive suffixes of Estonian "-kene" in its long form, but can be shortened to "-ke". In all grammatical cases except for the nominative and partitive singular, the "-ne" ending becomes "-se". It is fully productive and can be used with every word. Some words, such as "päike(ne)" (sun), "väike(ne)" (little) or "pisike(ne)" (tiny), are diminutive in their basic form, the diminutive suffix cannot be removed from these words. The Estonian diminutive suffix can be used recursively - it can be attached to a word more than once. Forms such as "pisikesekesekene", having three diminutive suffixes, are grammatically legitimate. As is demonstrated by the example, in recursive usage all but the last diminutive "-ne" suffix become "-se" as in forms inflected by case.

Finnish

The diminutive suffixes of Finnish "-ke", "-kka", and "-nen" are not universal, and cannot be used on every noun. The feature is common in Finnish surnames, f.e. 'Jokinen' could translate 'Streamling', but since this form is not used in speaking about streams, the surname could also mean 'lands by the stream' or 'lives by the stream'. Double diminutives also occur in certain words f.e. lapsukainen (child, not a baby anymore), lapsonen (small child), lapsi (child).

Examples:

    • -ke: haara (branch) → haarake (little branch), nimi (name) → nimike (label, tag)
    • -kka: peni (dog (archaic)) → penikka (whelp, pup), nenä (nose) → nenukka (little nose)
    • -nen: lintu (bird) → lintunen (little bird), poika (boy, son) → poikanen (little boy, animal offspring)

Hungarian

Hungarian uses the suffixes -ka/ke and -cska/cske to form diminutive nouns. The suffixes -i and -csi may also be used with names. However, you traditionally cannot have the diminutive form of your name registered officially in Hungary (although a few of the most common diminutive forms have been registered as possible legal first names in the past years). Nouns formed this way are considered separate words (as all words that are formed using képző type suffixes). They may not even be grammatically related to the base word, only historically, whereas the relation has been long forgotten.

Some examples:

  • Animals
    • -us: kutyakutyus (dog), cicacicus (cat)
    • -ci: medvemaci (bear), borjúboci (calf)
  • Names
    • -i: János (John) → Jani, JúliaJuli, KataKati, MáriaMari, SáraSári
    • -csi: JánosJancsi
    • -ika/ike: JúliaJulika, MáriaMarika
    • -iska/iske: JúliaJuliska, MáriaMariska
    • -us: BélaBélus
    • -ci: Bélaci, LászlóLaci, JúliaJuci
    • -có: FerencFe, JózsefJo
    • -tya: PéterPetya, ZoltánZotya
    • -nyi: Sándor (Alexander) → Sanyi

Note that these are all special diminutive suffixes. The universal -ka/ke and -cska/cske can be used to create further diminutive forms, e.g. kutyuska (little doggy), cicuska (little kitty). Theoretically, more and more diminutive forms can be created this way, e.g. kutyuskácskácska (little doggy-woggy-snoggy). Of course, this is not a common practice; the preferred translations are kutyulimutyuli (doggy-woggy) and cicamica (kitty-witty).

In some cases, the diminutive suffix has become part of the basic form. These are no longer regarded as diminutive forms:

  • Animals: cinke (tit), ka (fox), csóka (jackdaw), szarka (magpie), pulyka (turkey), csirke (chicken)

You can use the adjectives kicsi or kis (little) to create diminutive forms of these nouns, e.g. kicsi macska or kismacska (kitten).


Diminutive sections
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