Le Baron wrote:
The apostrophe can be used in certain Dutch possessives where pronunciation would be otherwise altered.
Conversely, take Marina's fiets. The apostrophe is used here because Marina normally ends in an open syllable, thus a long vowel sound, a long a. Adding an s alone would (without say an additional a as in Marinaas fiets) as per Dutch spelling rules, strictly speaking, alter the pronunciation of the final long vowel a turning it from a long a to a short a when followed by the s to indicate possession.
In other words, with Marinas fiets, the a with the addition of the plural s would become enclosed in a closed syllable, changining the pronunciation of long [a] in Marina to short [ɑ] in Marinas. The apostrophe reminds us not to do this, to mind your step, as you retain the long vowel sound in the plural form even in the absence of a double letter.
That spelling doesn't work like that for these words. Double vowels (and retained pronunciation: like 'rook' and 'roken') are always enclosed and plurals doesn't affect it. There is no long sound on the final vowel of a name like Marina or Frida or any ordinary word ending like that in such a vowel. The addition of plural 's' has no such closing effect upon it.
No, it does work like that. Long vowels in closed syllables require doubling the vowel, as you indicated for rook
. Furthermore, vowels are indeed considered long at the end of words like Marina
I can see why you might consider them short, however, given that in speech they are perhaps prone to being pronounced a little shorter compared to long vowels in closed syllables, but not short enough to be actual short vowels. They are indeed long vowels.
Le Baron wrote:'Marina's fiets' written like that with an English type of possessive apostrophe, doesn't exist in Dutch.
Correct. The apostrophe is not there to indicate ownership, it's there to indicate a missing double vowel. The s
alone indicates the ownership (not the apostrophe, agreed).
Le Baron wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:As a side note, names ending in s such as Marius add an apostrophe but no additional s to indicate possession, again avoiding spelling changes to the name, i.e. Marius' fiets.
They don't! That's purely English.
No, it's not. If you don't believe me, I suggest you take Bruce Donaldson's word for it, which I looked up to check after your reply. Apostrophe's do not indicate possession as is the case with English (we agree), but they do use apostrophes with possession to indicate that certan letters are missing (not ownership, nothing to do with possession), as I stated previously.
Bruce Donaldson Dutch A Comprehensive Grammar P11 wrote:APOSTROPHE
Unlike English, the apostrophe is not used to show possession:
Karels book 'Charles's book', mijn moeders auto 'my mother's car'
Only when the proper noun ends in a, o, u, y or a sibilant is the apostrophe used.
Helma's woordenboek, Hans' boek
The above is keeping with the principle that the apostrophe in Dutch is literally a weglatingsteken, i.e. where no letter is left out, no punctuation is required. Thus Shell's woordvoeder is wrong, although commonly seen, and the above Hans' and Helma's are right because in the former case an additional s has been omitted and in the latter a hypothetical a (in a closed syllable the long vowel would normally be indicated by a doubling of the vowel, i.e. Helmaas, but Dutch has opted to omit the second a in this case and show it has been dropped by replacing it with an apostrophe).
Le Baron wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:On to nouns (not people). With unstressed vowels or a 'schwa', represented by the letter e in Dutch, and phonetically by [ə], vowel length is unaffected with the addition of s. Eg tafel = tafels, bezem = bezems, vader = vaders. Thus, no need for an apostrophe.
Then we come to the foreign nouns (again not people) adding s to indicate plural form. Some end in consonants and others in vowels. For those ending in consonants, eg tram becomes trams, and perron becomes perrons because they end in consonants and no alteration to vowel length occurs with the addition of the s, so no need to use an apostrophe.
'Bus' ends in a consonant but the plural is 'bussen
'. Trein ends like that too and the plural is treinen
. Others are e.g: boek, stoel, huis, man, woord, sigaret
. All these end in -en. Overwhelmingly plurals for nouns in Dutch take the -en ending, also in irregular plurals. The reason those you named above have such plurals with an 's' is based on a handful of final sounds in the singular:
You can see that the final one radio is the only on with the apostrophe plural. Considered a non-ingeburgerd loanword.
In general, for nouns plurals ending in -s
, the rules run like so:
- Nouns ending in -e, -el, -em, -en
(with a so-called 'dull' e as in the word de
) usually take on an -s in the plural: pauzes, tafels, bezems, kussens en kamers, etc.
- Nouns, mostly with than one syllable ending in -eur
(basically people doing things) take -s in the plural: monteurs, winkeliers, bakkers
- Quite a lot of nouns that have come from other languages, but considered 'ingeburgerd' often take an -s in the plural: cadeaus, trams, films, stations, hotels, telefoons, microfoons.
- Nouns ending in a: -a, -i, -o, -u,
before the plural ending are pluralized with an 's (thus an apostrophe): aura's, taxi's, auto's, paraplu's, baby's.
- Nouns ending in -e
take -s in the plural: loges
. -e is also a vowel, but oddly not subjected to the previous rule.
Okay, so the reason I pointed out the unstressed last syllable in nouns such as vader
was to differentiate them from those with an apostrophe such as auto
. Unstressed meaning there is a schwa [ə] in vader
mentioned above (not to mention they are followed by consonants), so the apostrophe does not come into play. In your short list above this is also the case for every word except radio
. A straight s
is added to these nouns because of an unstressed -el
ending, i.e. also containing a schwa [ə]. By adding an -s
ending no long vowels are affected since there aren't any, so no apostrophe needed. Radio
does contain the long vowel ending -o
, so in the plural the apostrophe is needed.
You are right in pointing out that there are a whole host of rules and exceptions, as you mention trein
and I mentioned tram
, but you mentioned bus
and other such examples. And you are absolutely right. My discussion however was really in answering your bewilderment of the use of the apostrophe, which does have a pattern and reason to it, as quoted above from Bruce Donaldson's Dutch A Comprehensive Grammar
. Were I to branch out into all
the rules of when Dutch adds s
or something else for forming the plural, then this post would become insanely long. There again there is logic however (or rules), but they are lengthy and again all listed in the aforementioned grammar book. I only introduced some of these to round out the discussion regarding the use of the apostrophe in order to provide contrast or illustrate exceptions.
I will however add weight to the apostrophe use being logical with another quote from the same grammar book on the topic of plurals, found on page 36 of that book:
Bruce Donaldson Dutch A Comprehensive Grammar P36 wrote:Nous ending in -a, -o, and -u (all are of foreign origin)
firma's 'firms', auto's 'cars', paraplu's 'umbrellas'
The apostrophe is inserted because auto's, for example, would otherwise be pronounced with a short o; a long o sound can be preserved in a closed syllable only by doubling the letter. The Dutch would find the spelling autoos strange and thus replace the second o with an apostrophe. Thus it is not necessary in cadeaus, cafés and Hindoes, for example, but it is used in words ending in y and i (e.g. baby's, ski's), although strictly speaking nothing has been omitted.
So, I stand by my first post on the reasoning behind the apostrophe with foreign loan words ending with a long vowel as well as names. I was wrong on taxi's
. It seems they might be short vowel endings as per the above quote, although it's not strictly stated. In any case, it seems 'they' wanted to keep with the pattern provided with the long -a
endings. As for café, cafés
, I assume the French é
ending here is considered long, but maybe I'm interpreting that incorrectly.
tungemål wrote:I'm thinking that long vowels can only be on stressed syllables. Right?
So Marina: the final a is an unstressed schwa and thus not long.
While paraplu has a stressed final syllable and would change its pronunciation with the -s: paraplus. So that explanation seems plausible - it's written with an apostrophe: paraplu´s.
Also café ends with a stressed syllable. Plural is cafés, but diminuativ is cafeetje (double ee).
But that doesn't explain beby's, radio's etc.
I popped your quote in at the end, tungemål. A schwa in Dutch, as far as I understand is never represented by the letter a
(happy to be proven wrong if someone has an example), given the pronunciation [ə] which is usually written as e
as in tante
as in the -ig
word ending found in gelukkig
as in the word ending -lijk
as found in vriendelijk
. The a
is long, otherwise an apostrophe would not be used in the plural form, not to mention it's an open syllable ending in a long vowel (and yes some open syllables at the end of words do end in vowels that are not long, such as the e
There are long vowels that are unstressed. The a
is unstressed but long. The two a
's in paraplu
are long despite the u
being the position of the word stress. The reasoning behind the apostrophe's I've explained above.