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Afrikaans epithetical, suffixoidal, metonymic, exocentric attributive compounds

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conference contribution
posted on 2024-02-07, 06:00 authored by Gerhard B. Van HuyssteenGerhard B. Van Huyssteen

Many languages in the world, including Afrikaans, use exocentric compounds to form personal names, like French garde-malade (watches-sick.person ‘nurse’). These kinds of compounds are also sometimes in the literature known as bahuvrihi or possessive compounds (e.g., Booij 2020), and viewed by some scholars (e.g., Schlücker 2023) as not truly exocentric. Despite Scalise, Fábregas, and Forza (2009, 52) finding that “Germanic languages are not significantly characterised by exocentric compounding”, numerous studies of individual Germanic languages have been published in the past. For example, Van Niekerk (2002, 2006) presented a comprehensive, corpus-based, functional description of exocentric compounds in Afrikaans.

A subcategory of these compounds can be used evaluatively as personal names – either pejoratively as epithets (for example geld+wolf), or melioratively as hypocoronyms, laudatives, or approbatives (for example werk+esel) (see Van Niekerk 2006, 132–166). In this paper, the focus is on two metonymic subcategories, namely: (1) BODY PART FOR PERSON, such as slap÷gat (soft÷arse ‘quitter, slacker’), groot÷bek (large÷beak ‘braggart’), or klip÷kop (rock÷head ‘person with limited cognitive abilities’); and (2) GARMENT FOR PERSON, such as vet÷sak (fat÷bag ‘fatso’), dronk÷lap (drunk÷cloth ‘drunkard’), or klets÷kous (chat÷sock ‘chatterbox’). The aim of this paper is to characterise this construction based on an annotated dataset of EECs. The paper concludes with ideas to refine and re-use this dataset in future research.

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