LINGUIST List 13.746

Thu Mar 21 2002

Sum: -heit/keit in German: Addendum

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Stefan Ploch, sum: amendment to the summary of -heit/keit in German

Message 1: sum: amendment to the summary of -heit/keit in German

Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 19:28:59 +0200
From: Stefan Ploch <>
Subject: sum: amendment to the summary of -heit/keit in German

Re: Linguist 13.702

Recently, when I posted a summary of the responses I received in answer
to my query re. the distribution of -heit/keit in German, I forgot to
include one answer, i.e., the answer I received from Charley Rowe. My

This is the missing answer:
Charley Rowe:

It is morphologically determined and morphophonological in origin.

The current state of affairs:

-keit attaches in all cases to -sam, -bar, and -ig, for example, and
presumably to all other suffixes as well. (Probably you can easily find
a list of suffixes to check this out).

-heit would be the default, attaching onto bare adjectives,
participials, and a few nouns.

-heit is older. It occurs in OHG, and the appearance of -keit is not
until MHG. Grimm says -keit derives from -heit via a reanalysis from
-ic [present-day adj. suffix -ig] + heit. So, e.g., einig + heit >
einicheit > einigkeit. It then spread to all other suffixes (presumably
via analogy) as well, hence -igkeit, -samkeit, -barkeit.

By the way, -heit derives from IE *k�i with the meaning
'bright/illuminated'. In Germanic it could stand alone as a noun with
the meaning 'rank, being, type, class, family' etc.

I do have references for you:

Klaus-Peter Wegera: Wortbildung des Fr�hneuhochdeutschen, in: Werner
Besch, Oskar Reichmann, Stefan Sonderegger (Hrsgg.): Sprachgeschichte.
Ein Handbuch zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und ihrer Erforschung,
Berlin 1984/85, 2. Bd., S. 134-8-1355. S. 1349.

Markus, Stefanie. MA Thesis, Uni. Bochum: "Untersuchungen zur
Wortbildung im Mittelhochdeutschen am Beispiel der Substantiv-Suffixe
-heit/-keit und -ung" (mit Susanne Tersteegen).

In general, Wolfgang Dressler's book _Morphonology_? There may be some
additional pearls of wisdom in there. Further research may be found via
the Bibliographie Linguistique.

- -----------------------------------------------------------------
	Dr Stefan Ploch
	Senior Lecturer
	Linguistics (SLLS)
	University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
	Private Bag 3
	WITS 2050
	South Africa (default/Normalfall), or/oder (checked irregularly/wird unregelm��ig
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