Tid: torsdag 15 mars 2018, kl. 15:00-17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati


What happens when one noun meets another to create a new word?
Or, more generally, what are the ways in which the languages of the world allow speakers to combine two “nominal” concepts in order to name a new (complex) concept?

In Germanic languages the preferred strategy is compounding, as in Swedish järn.väg [iron.way] ‘railway’, and this is also the case in Chinese, Japanese and Korean: 铁路 tie.lu, 鉄道 tetsu.do, 철도 cheol.do, all [iron.road] ‘railway’. But strategies vary greatly from one language to another. Thus, Romance languages mostly employ a “phrasal compound” involving a preposition (e.g. French chemin de fer [road of iron] ‘railway’) Slavs tend to use an adjectivized modifier to qualify the head noun (e.g. Russian железная дорога želez.naja doroga [iron.adjz road] ‘railway’; although Slovaks use a nominalizing suffix in place of the head noun: želez.n.ica [iron.adjz.nmlz]). In Turkish we find the izafet construction (demir.yol.u [iron.road.3sg]), while Malagasy has a pertensive suffix on the head noun (lala.m.by [road.per.iron]).

In all of these examples (and many more that could be given), the two concepts ‘iron’ and ‘road’ combine to form the new meaning ‘railway’, and in each case, the construction is different. Further afield we find yet other constructions, such as the use of double-marking in Siberia and noun classifiers in the languages of South America.

This talk presents my doctoral project, which is a cross-linguistic investigation of binominal word-formation strategies in the languages of the world. I will discuss the background for the study, how I arrived at my comparative concept, the onomasiological approach in which I start out from 100 different concepts (including ‘railway’), and some of the challenges involved in developing a typology of binominal lexemes.


Hjärligt välkomna!
Richard Kowalik