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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What are augmentatives and how are they formed in Dutch?
Atie: And are they commonly used?
Michael: At DutchPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, Ben Lee watched a superhero movie and is now talking to his college friend, Inge Iedema.
"What superpower would you most like to have?"
Ben Lee: Welke superkracht zou je het liefst willen hebben?
Ben Lee: Welke superkracht zou je het liefst willen hebben?
Inge Iedema: Ik zou graag willen kunnen vliegen.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Welke superkracht zou je het liefst willen hebben?
Michael: "What superpower would you most like to have?"
Inge Iedema: Ik zou graag willen kunnen vliegen.
Michael: "I would like to be able to fly."

Lesson focus

Michael: In this lesson, you will be learning what Dutch augmentatives are and how to form them. Let's begin the lesson with a quick explanation of what is meant by the word "augmentative:"
In Dutch, many augmentatives are formed by attaching a prefix to a root word. The result of this is a new word that intensifies the meaning of the original root word. Sometimes, the new word expresses greater size, but it can also express other qualities. In Dutch, the word for "augmentative" is:
Atie: vergrootwoord.
Michael: In this lesson, let's be a little imaginative. I'd like to ask you to picture a very large bioscope, or cinema and on either side of that, a wholesaler and supermarket. A very lazy, overweight person is emerging from the bioscope. Do you have the picture in your mind? Great. Now, let's turn this into a sentence and say, "A very lazy, overweight person is emerging from a massive bioscope which is situated between a supermarket and a wholesaler." And now, let's take that same sentence and translate it into Dutch:
Atie: Een aartsluie persoon met overgewicht komt tevoorschijn uit een megabioscoop die zich tussen een supermarkt en een groothandel bevindt.
Michael: This sentence contains several examples of augmentatives. As I said, augmentatives are created with prefixes that amplify or intensify the meaning of the word they are attached to. Listen to the sentence again and see how many you can identify.
Atie: [SLOWLY] Een aartsluie persoon met overgewicht komt tevoorschijn uit een megabioscoop die zich tussen een supermarkt en een groothandel bevindt.
Michael: If you identified five augmentatives, congratulations! You're very quick. If not, don't worry. That's why you are here—to learn. The augmentative prefixes that were used in this sentence are:
Atie: aarts, over, mega, super, groot
Michael: Let's look at the individual words they formed and how they affected the meaning of the root words to which they were attached. The first augmentative in the sentence was
Atie: aartslui
Michael: which is an adjective and means "extremely lazy." In this word, the root word is "lazy" or
Atie: lui
Michael: and the prefix is
Atie: aarts
Michael: This prefix generally transfers to the root word a sense of high degree. This is precisely what it does in this case, resulting in an augmentative that means "very lazy." However, the prefix can also indicate that something or someone is first in rank. In this way, it is the same as the English prefix, "arch" as in "archbishop" which, in Dutch, is
Atie: aartsbisschop.
Michael: The second augmentative in the sentence we made is
Atie: overgewicht
Michael: which means "overweight" and consists of the prefix
Atie: over
Michael: and the root word
Atie: gewicht
Michael: meaning weight. The same prefix in English—"over"—has the same amplifying effect on the root word as it does in Dutch. In fact, most of the augmentative prefixes discussed in this part of the lesson can be found in English as well because they share roots in other languages such as Greek, Latin, French, and German. Another example of a prefix that is found in English and in Dutch is the third one in our sentence:
Atie: mega
Michael: It was used in conjunction with the word
Atie: bioscoop
Michael: which means "cinema" or "movie theater" and the resulting augmentative referred to "a very large cinema." Even the fourth augmentative has an English counterpart. In this case, the prefix is
Atie: super
Michael: meaning "super," of course, and it was attached to the root word for "market," which is:
Atie: markt
Michael: resulting in the word for "supermarket" or
Atie: supermarkt.
Michael: As you can tell, this reflects the exact same construction and meaning as in English. However, the last augmentative in the sentence we created does not have an English equivalent. The prefix was
Atie: groot
Michael: which means "big" and the root word was
Atie: handel
Michael: which means "trade." The resulting word was
Atie: groothandel
Michael: meaning "wholesaler." And those are the five augmentatives that you heard. Now that you know them a little better, let's listen to that sentence one last time. Listen carefully for the augmentatives:
Atie: [SLOWLY] Een aartsluie persoon met overgewicht komt tevoorschijn uit een megabioscoop die zich tussen een supermarkt en een groothandel bevindt.
Michael: These were the easy augmentatives because of the degree of parallel with English augmentatives, but there are some augmentatives in Dutch which have so little correlation with anything in English that they might seem quite strange to an English speaker. Take, for instance, the word
Atie: bloedmooi
Michael: which translates directly to "blood beautiful." The prefix, meaning "blood" is
Atie: bloed
Michael: and the Dutch word for "beautiful" or "pretty" is
Atie: mooi.
Michael: The resulting augmentative means "very beautiful" and actually has nothing to do with blood. There are other augmentatives in Dutch that use this same prefix, such as the word meaning "very own" or
Atie: bloedeigen
Michael: —also an unusual expression for native English speakers. Another augmentative that might sound strange to some is the one that translates directly to "stone-rich:"
Atie: steenrijk
Michael: The prefix
Atie: steen
Michael: means "stone" and I don't have to tell you that the root word,
Atie: rijk
Michael: means "rich." Because it is an augmentative, I am sure you would have guessed by now that this means "very rich." The same prefix can be used in other words to create the same augmenting effect, such as in the word for "very good," which is:
Atie: steengoed.
Michael: And, while on the subject of stones, the Dutch word for boulder is
Atie: kei
Michael: and it can be used as an augmentative prefix in words like
Atie: keihard
Michael: which means "very hard" or in a word like
Atie: keileuk
Michael: which means "a lot of fun." And, speaking of fun, I had fun with this discussion. I hope you found it interesting too.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue. Do you remember how Ben Lee says
"What superpower would you most like to have?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Atie as Ben Lee: Welke superkracht zou je het liefst willen hebben?
Michael: In this sentence, Ben is using an augmentative that contains one of the prefixes we have already discussed. Did you hear it? I'm sure you did. It was
Atie: super
Michael: and it means "super," of course. In this case, it is combined with the Dutch root word for "power" which is
Atie: kracht
Michael: and the resulting word is "superpower" or
Atie: superkracht.
Michael: The prefix "super" in both Dutch and English has its roots in Latin and this is why it is found in both languages. The oldest word in Dutch that contains this prefix is
Atie: superscripcie
Michael: The oldest record of its usage is from 1277 and it is a loan word, borrowed from the English "superscription."
Michael: In this lesson, you learned that augmentatives are words containing a prefix that modifies the meaning of a root word in such a way as to intensify or amplify that meaning.
Michael: Earlier, I mentioned that the prefix
Atie: aarts
Michael: can have the connotation of "very," but that it can also denote rank. The example that I used was that of "archbishop" or
Atie: aartsbisschop
Michael: in which the prefix indicates first rank. This is not the only augmentative prefix that doubles in terms of usage in this way:
Atie: Super
Michael: can also denote rank, as in the Dutch word for "main referee," which is
Atie: superarbiter.
Michael: You might have noticed that, in both these cases, the new word is a personal noun and, as such, is not an augmentative.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: Another type of augmentative is the "elative compound," which also expresses a high degree of the quality denoted by the root word. These are words that are very expressive. One example is:
Atie: straatarm,
Michael: meaning literally "street poor." This would be the equivalent of the English expression "dirt poor." Another example is the equivalent of the English idiomatic expression, "quiet as a mouse," which is a little more concise in Dutch. It sounds like this:
Atie: muisstil
Michael: It literally translates to "mouse still." There are quite a few other useful elative compounds like this in Dutch. They can come very much in handy if you want to sound more idiomatic and expressive when you speak Dutch.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Atie: Doei!
Michael: See you soon!