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A small number of words used in English have the derivational suffix "-ker" (maybe actually "-tiker"?), which appears to attach to words ending in "-sis". The only one I can remember off the top of my head is eidetiker = "one who is eidetic" (cf. eidesis), but I'm certain I've heard other instances.

Two questions:

  • Where does this suffix come from? It feels rather German to me, but I don't know any German, so I'm just spitballing here.
  • If you are a native speaker of English, do you feel that this suffix is productive today? A little while back (here), I used (coined?) the word "psychokinetiker" to mean "one who has the ability of psychokinesis", so clearly I feel that it's productive, but I suspect I might be idiosyncratic in this respect.
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    Can you show us an English dictionary that has eidetiker in it? I am not aware of one. I would say that the word - especially given its spelling with a 'k' - is purely German. – chasly from UK Aug 22 '15 at 19:13
  • @chaslyfromUK Probably not; I looked a bit and couldn't find anything. If you google for the term, though, you find a reasonable number of English-language articles that don't explicitly call it out as a foreign-language term. It feels reasonably English to me, at least. – senshin Aug 22 '15 at 19:15
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    The suffix -ker is just the suffix -er when applied after a word ending with a c. This suffix means the same in German and in English. For example, a picnicker is somebody at a picnic and a trafficker is somebody who traffics. We add -ker so that we don't have the suffix icer, which would be liable to be mispronounced. Why do some words end up spelled -icker and others -iker? I don't know. I suspect German influence. – Peter Shor Aug 22 '15 at 19:32
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The word "eidetiker" has German origins

It is from the German term Eidetiker. (A distinct feminine form exists in German, Eidetikerin, but in English "eidetiker" seems to be used for men and women alike.) The suffix here is not -ker, nor -tiker, but -ik-er: the suffix -ik (related to English -ic and -ics, ultimately from Greek) followed by the suffix -er (related to English -er).

The latter suffix here functions to derive a (masculine) noun referring to a person from the abstract noun Eidetik (in German, words ending in -ik are generally nouns, and correspond to adjectives ending in -isch). The use of the suffix -er in German is explained some by the Dartmouth German Studies Department website a little ways down the page. Apparently,

While this category of "-er" (or "-erin") nouns ordinarily derives from a verb, there are exceptions...

I guess this is one of the exceptions. Other similarly-formed words in German are Chemiker (chemist) and Physiker (physicist), but these aren't used in English. This suffix or group of suffixes seems fairly productive in that language: Googling supplies a fair amount of examples of Psychokinetiker being used in German text. You are the only person I've found who has used this last word in English text.

Anyway, I know barely any more German than you do, so the above is just what I've gathered through web search and looking at free online German dictionaries. If you want really reliable information about the German word, the place to ask is the German Stack Exchange.

The use of "eidetiker" in English

Wordnik gives several examples of the word "eidetiker" being used in an English context, and more can be found on Google. For example, the term is used in this article on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Other Quasi-Perceptual Phenomena (Supplement to Mental Imagery). Whether or not it remains "purely German" in such instances is a matter of opinion. I'll note that the orthographic treatment of the word in these examples is not purely German; in German, nouns are always capitalized as a rule. There are many psychology terms that originated in German, but are now more or less naturalized in English.

I have found references online to several specialist dictionaries (of English) that list the word: the Oxford Index gives the following definitions:

A person who perceives eidetic images.

A Dictionary of Psychology, third edition, by Andrew M. Colman

Person with the power of forming eidetic images.

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (2 rev. ed.), by Simon Blackburn

I found one site that lists as an English translation the (supposed) word "eidetician." But in fact, "eidetician" seems to be barely used at all; in fact, I can't find any examples of it being used with this meaning (it seems to be used sometimes to mean "one who studies ideas," as in this article on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, or this article that discusses Socrates).

Other "-iker" words used in English

Using findwords.info, I found the following terms:

I don't think "-iker" is a productive ending in English

On the one hand, there seem to be plenty of opportunities for parallel formation, so you might consider it potentially productive because of that. On the other hand, until today I wasn't even aware of this ending for nouns, so if you form new words with it you'll probably encounter more than a few confused people who aren't aware of what you're modeling your coined words after.

I think the following categories of nouns are more productive, although you might find that your formation of psychokinetiker works better to convey your intended connotation than any of the more productively constructed forms.

English has -ician and -icist nouns

"Psychokinetician" and "psychokineticist" are other possible ways to form a noun from "psychokinesis" that I think have more precedent. However, I'm not sure how well either of those formations would convey the idea of "a person with the supernatural ability of psychokinesis": -ician and -icist nouns often describe professions, although some uses of magician perhaps can be interpreted as referring to an ability.

English also has "-icker" nouns, spelled with "ck"

Since -ic and -er both exist as suffixes in English, there are words with this combination of suffixes that aren't derived from German. However, words formed within English from -ic and -er are typically spelled with -icker: a k is added, but the c is also kept. (The current pattern for using -ic and -ick- spellings in English became standardized relatively recently: in older stages of English, it was common to use the spelling -ick word-finally, and the Oxford English Dictionary also shows some historical c-less spellings such as musikers and musyker.)

Examples:

  • trafficker and traffic (v.)

  • mimicker and mimic (v.)

  • politicker and politic(k) (v.)

  • musicker and music

The same spelling alternation shows up with some words that don't contain the suffix -ic, such as picnicker from picnic and frolicker from frolic.

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There is no suffix -ker here because /k/ is part of the stem of the word eidetiker, not part of the agentive suffix -er.

The stem is the English adjective eidetic, to which the English agentive suffix -er has been added.

The last letter of eidetic (ultimately from Greek εἰδητικός [eidētikós]) stands for /k/, which is retained in the derived form eidetiker, where, however, it is represented by the letter k rather than the letter c because if c had been retained (*eideticer), people would mistake the c as standing for /s/ (because that letter is followed by the letter e; cf. English induce, price, reduce, and similar words with c before e).

Similarly, one of the English demonyms of the English place name Quebec is Quebecker, where k has been added to ensure that the demonym be pronounced with /k/ rather than /s/ (the demonym is also spelled Quebecer, which may induce /s/).

In sum, eidetiker consists of the English adjective eidetic and the English agentive suffix -er, with replacement of c by k to ensure pronunciation with /k/ and it is no evidence for an English suffix -ker or -iker, which I doubt exist at all. You have to make the right morphological cut.

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    If eidetiker was simply derived from English eidetic + -er, we'd expect the spelling to be eideticker, as the usual spelling alternation is -ic to -ick- rather than -ic to -ik-. Is there some reason for rejecting the idea of German influence in the spelling and formation of this word? – sumelic Jul 26 at 10:49
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'-er' is not a productive suffix to make a person-noun out of an '-ic' adjective in English.

The following is the list of words ending in '-iker' (on analogy with 'eidetiker') is from Unix /usr/dict/words: batiker daiker diker disliker duiker hiker hitchhiker Klondiker liker lorriker misliker moniker nonstriker piker spiker spruiker striker tolliker triker turnpiker

None of these is a transformation from an adjective '-ic' and there is otherwise no pattern in these examples.

Here is a list of '-icker': aflicker anticker arsnicker berrypicker bicker billsticker bootlicker bullsticker chemicker chicker clicker dicker flicker footlicker fossicker frolicker goldbricker kicker knicker licker mafficker mimicker musicker nicker physicker picker picknicker picnicker pigsticker potlicker pricker ragpicker ricker rollicker shicker sicker sidekicker singlesticker slicker smicker snicker sticker stricker ticker trafflicker tricker unsicker upflicker vraicker whicker wicker

The only pattern here is for some from verbs ending in '-ick', not at all like 'eidetiker'

This leads me to believe that '-iker' is not productive at all. Current English does not currently tend to borrow morphemes from German (some little vocabulary) because there is little awareness of the German language in British/American culture.

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the suffix is just in -er, it usually denotes a person by their profession, and it is productive: butcher, baker, candlestick maker. The K is part of the root adjective in the cases taken from German that OP mentions above.

The adjectives meaning eidetic or psychosomatic in German are taken from Greek and the Germans usually retain the original Greek spelling, which is why you get the ending in -K. However, we don't usually use the -er to make a profession out of any old Greek adjective this way. For instance, we don't call a person who shows empathy (gk. adj. empathetikos) an empathetiker or a person who plays the harmonica (a name derived from the gk. adj. harmonikos) a harmoniker.

  • Actually, my research suggests Eidetik in German is a noun. The corresponding adjective would seem to be eidetisch. – sumelic Sep 25 '15 at 12:42
  • Interesting. what does the noun mean? A person who has an eidetic memory or something maybe? Beolingus online dictionary doesn't know the word and just suggests eidetisch. At any rate, ultimate root is clearly the Greek noun eidos, which means a picture or image, and from which the adjective eidetikos would be derived. – shane Sep 25 '15 at 12:45
  • In fact, I linked to it in my answer: Eidetik. Like most German words with the suffix -ik, it is an abstract noun, meaning according to Google Translate "ability to objects or situations so vividly imagine, as if they were real." There's actually no equivalent English word as far as I know; if there were one, it would probably be something like "eidetics." As the OP states, the German word for "person with an eidetic memory" is Eidetiker. I get the impression that these words are fairly rare in German as well, though. – sumelic Sep 25 '15 at 12:49
  • Ah, ok. So it's like Technik or Physik. – shane Sep 25 '15 at 12:51

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