From Middle Dutch -kijn, from Old Dutch *-kīn, which is also the ancestor of the suffix -ke and Afrikaans -tjie (IPA(key): [ki]). The change from k to tj is the result of a palatalisation of -kijn in North Holland in the 13th or 14th century.
-tje n (plural -tjes)
1.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: A fricative or plosive (-b, -c, -d, -f, -g, -ch, -k, -p, -q, -s, -sj, -t, -v, -x, -z)
Examples: briefje, hokje, visje, doucheje (final sound is -sj), raceje (final sound is -s)
-etje is added to words ending in: A stressed short vowel followed by a sonorant (-l, -m, -n, -ng, -r).
Examples: pilletje, lammetje, bloemetje (also bloempje as the vowel was originally long), mannetje, vriendinnetje, dingetje, torretje
-tje is added to words ending in either: A stressed long vowel or diphthong or any unstressed vowel (-a, -e, -i, -j, -o, -r, -u, -w, -y).
The above, followed by a sonorant except m (-l, -m, -n, -ng, -r).
Examples: maantje, kuiltje, autootje, appeltje, vrouwtje
-pje is added to words ending in: A stressed long vowel or diphthong or any unstressed vowel followed by m
Examples: boompje, duimpje, bloempje (also bloemetje as the vowel has since become short), bodempje
-kje is added to words ending in: A stressed long vowel or diphthong or any unstressed vowel followed by ng
The -g is removed, so that the resulting word ends in -nkje.
Examples: koninkje, houdinkje
source : http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-tje
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