Debonding of affixoids: a comparative constructionist account

Kristel VanGoethem


In this article, I analyze a specific mechanism of linguistic change by which new adjectives and adverbs may be created out of former compound members or affixoids. This process is called ‘debonding’ by Norde (2009). I demonstrate that debonding occurs in several European languages and provide corpus examples from French, English, Dutch and German. Moreover, it is shown that language-specific properties such as the degree of compound cohesion and the complexity of the inflectional system may either favor (as in English or French) or disfavor (as in Dutch and German) the debonding process. The data are described and analyzed from a constructionist approach to language and language change. More precisely, I apply the notions of ‘multiple inheritance’ and ‘multiple source constructions’ to the debonding of two particular case studies, French clé and Dutch top.

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