Contrasting contrastive approaches
  • ISSN 1387-6759
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9897
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This paper deals with structural properties of German possessive compounds. Based on a comparison with compounds in Modern Greek, I argue against a general approach based exclusively on semantic criteria. Instead I distinguish between exocentric and endocentric formations in German, on the basis of specific structural criteria. In particular, I propose that compounds like Dickkopf ‘pigheaded person’ — also called bahuvrīhi or exocentric formations — are to be analysed as endocentric, right-headed compounds with a metonymical meaning. Furthermore, I propose that structures like Vierfüßer ‘quadruped’ and heißblütig ‘warm-blooded/hot-tempered’ are the real bahuvrīhi compounds in German, i.e. exocentric structures with a possessive meaning, headed by the derivational suffixes, -er or -ig.


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