LINGUIST List 10.1233

Sat Aug 21 1999

Qs: Linking morphemes in Dutch compounds

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  1. Andrea Krott, Linking elements in compounds

Message 1: Linking elements in compounds

Date: Wed, 18 Aug 1999 17:45:29 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Andrea Krott <>
Subject: Linking elements in compounds

I am working on linking morphemes in Dutch nominal compounds and I am
searching for other languages revealing a similar phenomenon. The only
languages I know about are Dutch, German, and Danish.

Here is a description of what linking morphemes in Dutch are: There
are two main linking morphemes in Dutch: -s- and -en-. They appear
between the two constituents of a nominal compound.


boekenkast (standard orthography)
boek-en-kast (morpheme breakdown)
"book shelf"

regeringsvorm (standard orthography)
regering-s-vorm (morpheme breakdown)
'type of government'

Historically, linking morphemes in Dutch are old genitive singular
suffixes or nominative plural suffixes. Syncronically, the linking -s-
often cannot be interpreted as a plural or genitive suffix of the
first constituent (e.g., 'regerings' is not the correct plural form
for 'regering'). It is also questionable whether the -s- still bares
any semantic information. On the other hand, the linking -en- only
occurs after nouns which syncronically form their plural with -en, and
there is evidence that -en- still bares the plural meaning.

In Dutch linking morphemes are productively used in novel compounds.
People mostly agree on which linking morpheme to use in a novel
compound. Although, they have a flexible sense of what is "correct"
(unlike inflectional morphology).

I would be thankful for any information about any language with any
kind of linking elements in compounds (not only in nominal compounds).


Andrea Krott M.A.

Interfaculty Research Unit for Language and Speech &
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Wundtlaan 1
PB 310, 6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

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