How do evaluative derivational meanings arise? A bit of Geforsche and Forscherei
We investigate the rise of pejorative functions in word formation in a diachronic corpus-based case study on the German derivation patterns <i>Ge-e</i> and -(<i>er</i>)<i>ei</i>. Both patterns derive action nouns, adding the feature ‘frequentative’ and implying a dismissive/ironic attitude towards the action referred to. Our corpus data from 1350–1850 suggest that incipient pejorative derivational meanings are heavily based on utterance contexts and base types with derogative connotation. Diachronically, they conventionalize to a certain degree. However, – as implicature tests (especially calculability) show for <i>-(er)ei</i> and <i>Ge-e</i> –, they need not become a part of affix semantics. This lack of emancipation may be due to the high pragmatic productivity of pejorative contexts in reference to frequentative actions, leading to +> ‘annoyance’ in the first place, but also precluding the critical mass of neutral contexts/bases needed to prove emancipation.