Academic journal article Suvremena Lingvistika

Notes on the Structure and Meaning of Some Slavic Nominal Compounds

Academic journal article Suvremena Lingvistika

Notes on the Structure and Meaning of Some Slavic Nominal Compounds

Article excerpt

Curiously, a type of word-formation, viz.nominal composition, has never been studied comprehensively with special regard to the Slavic branch of Indo-European, (1) as far as I can see.

Usually, the topic is given a short overview at best, which is also the case in the fine new book on Slavic Nominal Word-Formation by Ranko Matasovic (2014: 183-189). In the following, a number of objections are raised with regard to both the proposed classification and to the interpretation of some compounds mentioned there.

In Slavic, as well as in the other branches of the family, nominal compounds are a large class of formations inherited from Indo-European. This heritage has undergone further developments, as usual. Perhaps due to the succinct form of his chapter, Matasovic (henceforth: M; numbers refer to pages of his book) has proposed to range Slavic compounds into three types only, viz. A Copulative Compounds, B Determinative compounds, and C Exocentric compounds.

Class A "Copulative compounds", called dvandva "pair" in Comparative Grammar (following the terminology introduced by Indian grammarian Pa[??]ini, ca. 500 BC) is without problems, but one should have added that though usually only two members occur, compounds with three and even more members are possible in IE, cf. Fr (drapeau) bleu-blanc-rouge, Skt hasty-asva-ratha-"(caused by) elephants, horses and chariots", garga-vatsa-vaja[??] "(descendants) of Garga, Vatsa and Vaja". (2) Such compounds with more than two members are not found in Slavic as far as I know. (3)

In discussing type B "Determinative compounds" (Skt tatpuru[??]a "his man" = "servant"), there is, unfortunately, a serious oversight in M's definition (183): it is, of course, the first member which determines the second, and not vice versa. The subdivisions proposed are too loosely formulated, I am afraid: 1. "two nominal elements", where "nominal" seems to mean substan tives only; 2. "a nominal and an adjectival element", with both orders possible; 3. "two adjectives"; 4. "a verbal and a nominal element". In fact, both adjec tives and substantives are nominals; this word class includes all kinds of verbal nouns as well (including root nouns and participles). Furthermore, semantics are helpful for a clearer subdivision. This is why one usually distinguishes between attributive, casual, adverbial relations of the determining (first) element to the determined (second) one. M's definition of type B.4 ("combine a verbal and a nominal element" [my italics]) seems to be open to misunderstanding. The two examples cited from OE and Gr both contain two nominal elements: OE [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]-lida (4) "sea-farer, sailor", Gr [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "cattle-thief". There are no "verbal elements" here other than the verbal root which served as base for the derivation of the agent noun in OE, and as a simple root noun in Gr (resulting in a Governing compound, on which type see below).

Tatpuru[??]as with an attributive first member fall into two sub-types: those with adjective as first member (called karmadharaya (5) by Indian grammarians and in Comparative Grammar), e.g. G Rot-wein, E bluebird, etc., and those with a substantive or pronoun as first member (tatpuru[??]a proper). In compounds of substantive + substantive, the first member has to be understood in most cases as standing a casual relation to the second, i.e. if paraphrased, the first word of the phrase might stand in any possible case expressing all sorts of logical relations. We may speak of a comparative subtype if the meaning of the second member is modified by comparison to the first. Numerous compounds with an adjective as second member belong to this latter group, cf. G blut-rot, E blood-red and the like. An adverbial function of the first member may be found in cpds. of the type Gr [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] G Immer-grun.

Under C. "Exocentric compounds", two quite different groups are taken together, the bahuvrihi type and the Governing compounds. …

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