From Middle Dutch -kijn, from Old Dutch -kīn, which is the ancestor of the suffixes -ke, -ken, -tje (and its subvarieties: -je, -etje, -pje, -kje) and Afrikaans -tjie ([ki]). All forms descend from the Proto-Germanic *-ikīną, *-ukīną, itself a double diminutive produced by combining Proto-Germanic *-ikaz, *-ukaz + *-īną. The change from k to tj is the result of a palatalization of -kijn in North Holland in the 13th or 14th century. Cf. also German -chen, English -kin.
-tje n (plural -tjes)
- Appended to a noun (or occasionally another part of speech), making it diminutive.
The use of this suffix is very productive in Dutch and has led to the creation of quite a few lexicalized forms, i.e. the diminutive has acquired a meaning of its own.
The suffix takes different variant forms according to the stress and final consonant or vowel of the root it is added to. This is mostly due to assimilation of the suffix to the previous consonant. Note that in each case, the actual sound that the word has matters, not the letter(s). Loanwords that retain a silent -e therefore behave as though they ended with the letter before it.
- -je is added to words ending in:
- -etje is added to words ending in:
- -tje is added to words ending in either:
- -pje is added to words ending in:
- -kje is added to words ending in:
- Afrikaans: -tjie