Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

On Verbocentric Nominal Compounds Denoting Humans in Bulgarian

Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

On Verbocentric Nominal Compounds Denoting Humans in Bulgarian

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Compounding is undoubtedly one of the most extensively debated topics in the word-formation literature for the reason that it appears to be the most prevalent word formation process both across languages and over time. Despite this, "there is still a long way to go in order to fully understand compounding structures and their distribution in world's languages" (Guevara and Scalise 2009: 122). Making a small step in this direction, in the current paper, nominal verbocentric compounds denoting humans in Bulgarian are discussed.

As the formation of words is in its essence a cognitive phenomenon, research on various types and processes of lexical creation is by necessity based on cognitive principles. This makes natural the choice of cognitive linguistic accounts of word-formation and construction morphology as the model of grammar best suited to provide unified generalizations on verbocentric compounds grounded in theories of metonymy and metaphor. Naturally, metaphor and metonymy in relation to compounds have been studied extensively within the scope of Cognitive Linguistics investigations. Yet, the ultimate goal of the proposed semanticization of word-formation research under the aegis of Cognitive Linguistics, "to provide more comprehensive and consistent descriptions of individual word-formation phenomena" (Ungerer 2007: 651) has not been fully accomplished, especially for not widely studied languages (such as Bulgarian). Congruent with this desideratum is the report on ongoing research presented here on a group of compounds in Bulgarian. In conformity with Langacker's dictum that linguistic structure, made up of "conventional imagery", must be distinguished from a universal conceptual structure and that "meaning is language-specific to a considerable extent. It is this imagery that has to be described, not the presumably universal cognitive representations that these conventional images construe" (Langacker 1987: 47), the analysis of verbocentric Bulgarian compounds is focused on the role and nature of metonymy and metaphor.

To achieve its goals the paper is organized as follows: in part one the data set is delineated with a necessarily short concomitant discussion of the terminological confusion characteristic of the area under study, in part two the specific analytical tools adopted and their corresponding frameworks are briefly presented, in part three morphotactic analysis of the data set is offered, part four follows with a morphosemantic analysis and in part five all loose threads are united in a set of summative conclusions.

2 The data set

2.1 What the data set comprises

The arguments developed below are based on the analysis of two hundred and fifty-five verbocentric compounds denoting humans in Bulgarian. Two hundred of these follow the word formation pattern (26) X V+/-suff and fifty-five the pattern V N. All of these compounds actualize the following word formation types (27) based on Kastovsky's classification: 1) 'person characterised by performing some activity': [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [razvejprah, 'scatter-dust', idler]; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [razturikoliba, 'tear-down-hut', adulterer]; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [zagoritendzere, burn-pan, a person with no sense of time]; etc. and 2) 'a person characterised by performing some activity': [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [glasopodavatel, 'voice-giver', voter]; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [grobokopac, 'grave-dig-er', grave digger]; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [danakoplatec, 'tax-pay-er', tax payer]; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [zivotnovad, 'animal-breed', animal breeder]; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [ezikoved, 'language-lead', linguist]; etc. The types may seem tautological at first glance, but the first class denotes humans characterized by particular behaviour traits, foibles and propensities, while the second class denotes agents (including occupations and professions). …

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