The aim of this study is to compare the models of adjective-formation in German and in Estonian. Samples (adjectives / adverbs characterizing the human appearance) were taken from contemporary dictionaries of both languages as well as from the largest German corpus COSMAS (Institute of German Language, Mannheim).
First of all there are some differences in the structure of the noun phrases and in the word-classes of the lexical units used as prenominal attribute. The lexical modificators in Estonian and German are differently marked. There are a number of adverbs in Estonian used in the prototypical functions of adjectives. A large number of adverbs expressing the circumstances of a process or (physical resp. psychical) states of a person are directly derived from noun forms.
Results show that the common models of word-formation both in German and in Estonian are transposition and modification. The differences appear in the activity of some models. In German, there are much more participial adjectives characterizing various changes in the human appearance while the descriptive (onomatopoetical) words based on so-called cranberry-morphemes (very characteristical for the Estonian, e.g. köss-, löss-, kiits-, kööts- etc.) are rather rare. In analogous context in Estonian, the adverbs formally coinciding with inessiv-forms of nouns (eventually the only difference appears in the strength of pronounciation) are used instead of participles. Another peculiarity of adjective-formation in Estonian is the using of diminutive suffixes (-ke, -kene) common with the noun-suffixes for the modification. On the other hand, the formation of adjectives by addition of prefixes typically used in German is almost missing in Estonian.