Some remarks on word formation in Danish

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Abstract

Abstract for the 25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics

Some remarks on wordformation in Danish

Some Danish word formation phenomena pose a problem for the linguist, being a predicament for analysis. In Danish a train leaves the station when it afgår ‘leaves’, while a minister may gå af ‘resign’, whereas a Swedish minister may resign by (att) avgå ‘(to) resign’. Especially tricky are pairs like afholde ‘arrange, organise’ and holde af ‘like’ because of their abstract, but different, meanings, and because the phrasal verb also differs from concrete meanings of holde ‘hold’. In general, there are some patterns for these Danish compounds concerning their internal semantics, in that the same lexical items may be used for different purposes depending on whether they are formed as a straightforward linear sequence (a word formation) or a reversed sequence (a phrase). The problem is (i) how the two kinds of combinations should be analysed, and (ii) what patterns emerge from the potential combinations, and (iii) why there are differences between closely related languages like Danish and Swedish?

It seems to have to do with the semantics of the combinations and not with the basic lexical materials, and that raises the question how to explain the combinatorial patterns by a specific approach in semantics.

The problem may be illustrated by Danish deadjectival nominal conversions like (en) døvstum ‘(a) deaf-mute’. They may be considered copulatives (dvandvas) or may be regarded as appositional compounds depending on whether you focus on their extensional or their intensional meanings. As a copulative (deadjectival noun) døvstum denotes an entity (a person) that represents the union set of the properties (attributes) døv and stum (in that the person represents both all the people constituting the set of the deaf and all the people constituting the set of the mute; i.e. the sum of all entities with either of those properties), whereas as an appositional (deadjectival adjective) compound the expression døvstum denotes the intersection of the sets of the properties (attributes) døv and stum respectively; i.e. individuals with both properties. This kind of analysis may be controversial, but the basic claim is that a primitive set-theoretical notion may be a way of handling adjectival combinations like these.

This kind of approach may also be appropriate when dealing with the formation vs phrase problem illustrated above (afgå vs gå af), in that specific combinations seem to be based on special semantic perceptions of the language users – which can be explained set-theoretically – and in that one may invoke a particular notion called “normative”. If “formative” is the Chomskyan notion of an articulated expressions (in a sentence or phrase) then one might propose a technical term for expressions found in parallel in related languages (like Danish and Swedish) and, crucially, mutually understandable (a minister may ‘gå af’ or ‘afgå’ in both languages and be understood) but with different norms regulating what is licensed in each language. The term ‘normative’ may be suggested for this phenomenon.

The presentation will elaborate on the theoretical and the analytic problems of the approach, and illustrate this by a fair number of excerpts and examples.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics - Reykjavík, Iceland
Duration: 13 May 201315 May 2013
http://conference.hi.is/scl25/

Conference

Conference25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics
CountryIceland
CityReykjavík
Period13/05/201315/05/2013
Internet address

Cite this

Götzsche, H. (2013). Some remarks on word formation in Danish. Abstract from 25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, Reykjavík, Iceland.
Götzsche, Hans. / Some remarks on word formation in Danish. Abstract from 25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, Reykjavík, Iceland.
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Götzsche, H 2013, 'Some remarks on word formation in Danish', 25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, Reykjavík, Iceland, 13/05/2013 - 15/05/2013.

Some remarks on word formation in Danish. / Götzsche, Hans.

2013. Abstract from 25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, Reykjavík, Iceland.

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Some remarks on word formation in Danish

AU - Götzsche, Hans

PY - 2013

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N2 - Abstract for the 25th Scandinavian Conference of LinguisticsSome remarks on wordformation in DanishSome Danish word formation phenomena pose a problem for the linguist, being a predicament for analysis. In Danish a train leaves the station when it afgår ‘leaves’, while a minister may gå af ‘resign’, whereas a Swedish minister may resign by (att) avgå ‘(to) resign’. Especially tricky are pairs like afholde ‘arrange, organise’ and holde af ‘like’ because of their abstract, but different, meanings, and because the phrasal verb also differs from concrete meanings of holde ‘hold’. In general, there are some patterns for these Danish compounds concerning their internal semantics, in that the same lexical items may be used for different purposes depending on whether they are formed as a straightforward linear sequence (a word formation) or a reversed sequence (a phrase). The problem is (i) how the two kinds of combinations should be analysed, and (ii) what patterns emerge from the potential combinations, and (iii) why there are differences between closely related languages like Danish and Swedish?It seems to have to do with the semantics of the combinations and not with the basic lexical materials, and that raises the question how to explain the combinatorial patterns by a specific approach in semantics.The problem may be illustrated by Danish deadjectival nominal conversions like (en) døvstum ‘(a) deaf-mute’. They may be considered copulatives (dvandvas) or may be regarded as appositional compounds depending on whether you focus on their extensional or their intensional meanings. As a copulative (deadjectival noun) døvstum denotes an entity (a person) that represents the union set of the properties (attributes) døv and stum (in that the person represents both all the people constituting the set of the deaf and all the people constituting the set of the mute; i.e. the sum of all entities with either of those properties), whereas as an appositional (deadjectival adjective) compound the expression døvstum denotes the intersection of the sets of the properties (attributes) døv and stum respectively; i.e. individuals with both properties. This kind of analysis may be controversial, but the basic claim is that a primitive set-theoretical notion may be a way of handling adjectival combinations like these.This kind of approach may also be appropriate when dealing with the formation vs phrase problem illustrated above (afgå vs gå af), in that specific combinations seem to be based on special semantic perceptions of the language users – which can be explained set-theoretically – and in that one may invoke a particular notion called “normative”. If “formative” is the Chomskyan notion of an articulated expressions (in a sentence or phrase) then one might propose a technical term for expressions found in parallel in related languages (like Danish and Swedish) and, crucially, mutually understandable (a minister may ‘gå af’ or ‘afgå’ in both languages and be understood) but with different norms regulating what is licensed in each language. The term ‘normative’ may be suggested for this phenomenon.The presentation will elaborate on the theoretical and the analytic problems of the approach, and illustrate this by a fair number of excerpts and examples.

AB - Abstract for the 25th Scandinavian Conference of LinguisticsSome remarks on wordformation in DanishSome Danish word formation phenomena pose a problem for the linguist, being a predicament for analysis. In Danish a train leaves the station when it afgår ‘leaves’, while a minister may gå af ‘resign’, whereas a Swedish minister may resign by (att) avgå ‘(to) resign’. Especially tricky are pairs like afholde ‘arrange, organise’ and holde af ‘like’ because of their abstract, but different, meanings, and because the phrasal verb also differs from concrete meanings of holde ‘hold’. In general, there are some patterns for these Danish compounds concerning their internal semantics, in that the same lexical items may be used for different purposes depending on whether they are formed as a straightforward linear sequence (a word formation) or a reversed sequence (a phrase). The problem is (i) how the two kinds of combinations should be analysed, and (ii) what patterns emerge from the potential combinations, and (iii) why there are differences between closely related languages like Danish and Swedish?It seems to have to do with the semantics of the combinations and not with the basic lexical materials, and that raises the question how to explain the combinatorial patterns by a specific approach in semantics.The problem may be illustrated by Danish deadjectival nominal conversions like (en) døvstum ‘(a) deaf-mute’. They may be considered copulatives (dvandvas) or may be regarded as appositional compounds depending on whether you focus on their extensional or their intensional meanings. As a copulative (deadjectival noun) døvstum denotes an entity (a person) that represents the union set of the properties (attributes) døv and stum (in that the person represents both all the people constituting the set of the deaf and all the people constituting the set of the mute; i.e. the sum of all entities with either of those properties), whereas as an appositional (deadjectival adjective) compound the expression døvstum denotes the intersection of the sets of the properties (attributes) døv and stum respectively; i.e. individuals with both properties. This kind of analysis may be controversial, but the basic claim is that a primitive set-theoretical notion may be a way of handling adjectival combinations like these.This kind of approach may also be appropriate when dealing with the formation vs phrase problem illustrated above (afgå vs gå af), in that specific combinations seem to be based on special semantic perceptions of the language users – which can be explained set-theoretically – and in that one may invoke a particular notion called “normative”. If “formative” is the Chomskyan notion of an articulated expressions (in a sentence or phrase) then one might propose a technical term for expressions found in parallel in related languages (like Danish and Swedish) and, crucially, mutually understandable (a minister may ‘gå af’ or ‘afgå’ in both languages and be understood) but with different norms regulating what is licensed in each language. The term ‘normative’ may be suggested for this phenomenon.The presentation will elaborate on the theoretical and the analytic problems of the approach, and illustrate this by a fair number of excerpts and examples.

M3 - Conference abstract for conference

ER -

Götzsche H. Some remarks on word formation in Danish. 2013. Abstract from 25th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, Reykjavík, Iceland.