Tagung zum Thema Wortbildung /

Conference on word formation

Bern, 5. / 6. Februar 2014


Malte Battefeld / Torsten Leuschner / Gudrun Rawoens
Universität Gent, Belgien
‘Top-’ in German, Dutch and Swedish: a Perspective from Construction Morphology

Despite steadily increasing interest in construction morphology and its concept of a “hierarchical lexicon” (Booij 2010), little systematic use has so far been made of this framework in contrastive linguistics, especially with regard to more than two languages. The aim of our paper is to test the merits of the constructional approach against serial compounding with ‘top-‘ as first member in German, Dutch and Swedish, as in G. Topgehalt, D. topsalaris, Sw. topp(en)lön ‘top salary’. We suggest that the commonalities of such ‘top-’compounds can be dealt with through the abstract schema (1), which is partially instantiated by Top-/top-/topp(en) as in (2):

The rise of such schemata can then be explained as a result of ‘constructionalization’ rather than ‘grammaticalization’ (Hüning/Booij fc., cf. Trousdale/Norde 2013). Drawing on corpus data, we show that diverging usage and productivity patterns show that this process has attained different degrees in individual languages (cf. Booij/Hüning fc.).
In addition, the constructional perspective can help resolve long-standing theoretical debates. In contrast to D. top- and Sw. topp(en)-, G. Top-, is not a native item but a loan from English (cf. Schmidt 2005 [1990]) and thus more similar to ‘confixes’ than to ‘prefixoids’ in certain respects (cf. Elsen 2005; Michel 2009). For many linguists, these are controversial distinctions (see e.g. Elsen 2009 on German ‘prefixoids’), but they are rendered theoretically less significant by the constructional focus on functional similarities between bound items like ‘top-‘ in abstract schemata both within and across languages.

Booij, Geert (2010): Construction Morphology. Oxford.
Booij, Geert / Hüning, Matthias (forthc.): Affixoids and constructional idioms. In: Boogaart / Ronny / Colleman, Timothy and Rutten / Gijsbert (eds.): Extending the Scope of Construction-Based Grammar. Berlin.
Elsen, Hilke (2005): Deutsche Konfixe. In: Deutsche Sprache 33, 133–140.
Elsen, Hilke (2009): Affixoide. Nur was benannt wird, kann auch verstanden werden. In: Deutsche Sprache 37.4, 316–333.
Hüning, Matthias / Booij, Geert (forthc.): From Compounding to Derivation. The Rise of Derivational Affixes through ‘Constructionalization’. In: Folia Linguistica.
Michel, Sascha (2009): Das Konfix zwischen Langue und Parole. Ansätze zu einer sprachgebrauchsbezogenen Definition und Typologie. In: Müller, Peter O. (ed.): Studien zur Fremdwortbildung. Hildesheim, 91–140.
Schmidt, Günter Dietrich (2005[1990]): Super- und top-. Ein Vergleich von zwei im Deutschen heute produktiven Lehnpräfixen. In: Müller, Peter O. (ed.): Fremdwortbildung. Theorie und Praxis in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Frankfurt/Main, 407–415.
Trousdale, Graeme / Norde, Muriel (2013): Degrammaticalization and Constructionalization: Two Case Studies. Language Sciences 36, 32–46.

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