A+N combinations in Dutch and German Thinking about 'Construction Morphology'
In Dutch as well as in German adjectives and nouns can be combined by means of the word formation process of composition (Dutch kleingeld, sneltrein, hardhout; German Kleingeld, Schnellzug, Hartholz; ‘loose change’, ‘express train’, ‘hardwood’). However, it has often been noted that this word formation process is used much less in Dutch than it is in German. Quite often words which are expressed in German by an A+N compound are realized in Dutch as an A+N phrase (Dutch donkere kamer, dunne darm, rode wijn, harde schijf vs. German Dunkelkammer, Dünndarm, Rotwein, Festplatte; ‘darkroom’, ‘small intestine’, ‘red wine’, ‘hard disk’). Exploring this difference between word formation processes sychronically as well as diachronically is important regarding the basic difference between the functions of syntax and word formation, as it is formulated for instance by Bauer: "Like derivatives, compounds provide names for entities, properites or actions. This is opposed to providing descriptions, which is the function of syntax." (Bauer 1988:102). Comparing A+N combinations in Dutch and in German thus poses a challenge for the generally accepted division of functions between word formation and syntax as phrased above (see Hüning 2004).
Recent approaches within construction grammar seem to provide an appropriate theoretical modeling of such a transition domain between syntagm and compound, see for example Booij (2002a, 2002b) who outlines an analysis of Dutch A+N-syntagms as 'constructional idiom'. We want to explore to what extent construction grammar provides an adequate framework for the study of these corresponding combinations in terms of a general analysis. What we aim at is to incorporate this study into the bigger context of a 'construction morphology' as it is proposed by Booij (2005).
Bauer, Laurie (1988), Introducing Linguistic Morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Booij, Geert (2002a), The Morphology of Dutch. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Booij, Geert (2002b), 'Constructional Idioms, Morphology, and the Dutch Lexicon.' Journal of Germanic Linguistics 14 (3), 301-329.
Booij, Geert (2005), 'Compounding and derivation: evidence for Construction Morphology.' In Wolfgang U. Dressler, Dieter Kastovsky, Oskar E. Pfeiffer and Franz Rainer (eds.) Morphology and its demarcations. Selected papers from the 11th Morphology meeting, Vienna, February 2004 Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 109-132.
Hüning, Matthias (2004), 'Over woorden en woordgroepen. A+N-verbindingen in het Nederlands en in het Duits.' In: Kiedron, Stefan & Kowalska-Szubert, Agata (eds.), Thesaurus polyglottus et flores quadrilingues. Festschrift für Stanislaw Predota zum 60. Geburtstag. Wroclaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza ATUT - Wroclawskie Wyawnictwo Oswiatowe, 159-171.