Contrasting compounding in Dutch, German and Swedish. A corpus-based, construction morphology perspective


Contrastive research on nominal compounding in Germanic has to date been mostly concerned with the language pair Dutch–German, resulting in intriguing observations of both commonalities and differences regarding specific aspects within this domain of word-formation. While nominal compounding is generally an extraordinary productive morphological process in Germanic, speakers of Dutch (DU) sometimes prefer (lexicalized) phrases which correspond to German (GE) compounds: DU gat in de markt, GE Markt|lücke ‘market gap’; DU vreemde taal, GE Fremd|sprache ‘foreign language’; DU rode wijn, GE Rot|wein ‘red wine’. The present study aims at a broad, cross-linguistic comparison of nominal compounding based on corpus data, taking Swedish (SW) into account as well, which seems to occupy a middle position, cf. SW marknads|nisch, främmande språk, röd|vin.

The first part of the presentation is concerned with the empirical findings of the study, focussing on the morphological productivity (cf. BAAYEN 2009) of nominal compounding and its sub-processes, such as noun+noun (bil|fabrik ‘car factory’), verb+noun (sov|rum ‘lit. sleep room; bedroom’), adjective+noun compounding (tam|djur ‘lit. tame animal; pet’) and others.

The second part of the presentation is devoted to the theoretical discussion of the empirical findings. Nominal compounding is characterized by a constant conflict between transparency and opacity (cf. lexicalizations such as ögon|blick ‘moment’; cf. JACKENDOFF 2009). It will be argued that a construction-morphological approach to compounding is capable of accounting for these inherent dynamics by assuming an interplay between more or less entrenched lexical constructions and (sub)schemas with different degrees of abstractness (cf. BOOIJ 2010, BOOIJ & HÜNING 2014).


Malte Battefeld, M.A. (born 1984 in Bremen, Germany), studied historical linguistics and Scandinavian studies (B.A.) at Humboldt University Berlin and linguistics (M.A. 'Languages of Europe') at Free University Berlin. Before starting his PhD project at Ghent University in 2013, he worked as a foreign language assistant in France and Spain. The PhD project is entitled: "The hierarchical lexicon. Productivity and schematicity of nominal compounding in German, Dutch and Swedish."