Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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This study focuses on French, English and Dutch adjectives that arise through debonding from N+N (and N+A) compounds or compound-like sequences (e.g. the adjectival uses of English ‘key’ and French clé “key”). Debonding is a type of degrammaticalization defined by Norde as “a composite change whereby a bound morpheme in a specific linguistic context becomes a free morpheme” (Norde, 2009: 186). We investigate for each of the three languages how the debonding process is impacted by three different factors: (1) the semantics of the noun subject to debonding, (2) the degree of prosodic and morphological cohesion of the sequence, (3) the presence of adjective inflection in the language. It is furthermore argued that in the case of Dutch, an additional process should be taken into account, that is the possibility of clipping of N+A compounds (e.g. stapel “lit. pile; madly in love” < stapelverliefd “lit. pile-in love; madly in love”).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): adjective; compound; debonding; Dutch/English/French
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