This book presents a new theory of grammatical categories - the Universal Spine Hypothesis - and reinforces generative notions of Universal Grammar while accommodating insights from linguistic typology.
Processes in which linguistic entities are "weakened" formally and in their meaning (e.g. "Kien-Föhre" > "Kiefer") have been well researched, but "strengthening processes" (e.g. Caribbean "hamaca" > folk-etymological explanation "Hänge-matte") in which linguistic entities are first created have hardly been researched at all. The intention of this volume is to fill this gap by exploring both normal folk-etymologies and more subtle ones. The examples presented include: the interpretation in children's language of heiser as the comparative form of "heis" - i.e. "heis-er", the literal interpretation of expressions (e.g. "Gastarbeiter" [guest workers] is considered wrong, because guests and work are mutually exclusive) and the attribution of meanings derived from world knowledge to words, which are not contained in the words' literal meaning (see the choices of Germany's annual "Unwort" competition for the "un- word" or "No-No Word of the Year"). Pleonasms (such as "Hai-Fisch" instead of just Hai) round off the thematic spectrum.