Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

The Linking Morpheme in Afrikaans: A Cognitive Grammar Description

Academic journal article SKASE Journal of Theoretical Linguistics

The Linking Morpheme in Afrikaans: A Cognitive Grammar Description

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Linking morphemes (most often called a linking element, but also known as an interfix, link phoneme, phonomorpheme, connecting morpheme, linker, stem extender, and valence morpheme, amongst many others) are found in many languages of the world. In this article we consider Afrikaans linking morphemes, such as the *e* in hond *e* hok (dog *LK* cage; 'kennel'), and the *s* in seun *s* naam (boy *LK* name; 'boy's name'). For reasons that will become apparent, we use the term 'linking morpheme', instead of the more widely used "linking element".

In the past few years linking morphemes have been the subject of a number of large-scale linguistic enquiries, including Fuhrhop & Kurschner (2015), Krott et al. (2007), Van Tiel et al. (2011), and Wegener (2008), to name but a few. The questions raised in these projects ranged from the theoretical (e.g. the possible morphemic status of this word element), to the descriptive (e.g. historical origins, current uses, and productivity). Specifically in Dutch there has been a decades long investigation into the possible meaning of linking morphemes, from Mattens (1970), to most recently Hanssen (2011), and Banga et al. (2012; 2013). Similarly German has profited from studies especially highlighting the phonological value of these morphemes, like Krott et al. (2007), and Nubling & Szczepaniak (2013). Research on linking morphemes continues to this day, as is evident from the recent investigation by Schafer & Pankratz (2018) into the plural interpretability of linking morphemes in German.

In contrast to this body of work, the status of linking morphemes in Afrikaans still remains largely unexplored. Apart from some remarks made in passing by a handful of Afrikaans linguists, writing exclusively in Afrikaans (i.e. Combrink 1990; Kempen 1969), no substantive, comprehensive and unifying description of Afrikaans constructions with linking morphemes exist--written in either in Afrikaans, or English. The main aim of this article is therefore to fill this gap in the international descriptive literature on linking morphemes.

A secondary aim also relates to the descriptive nature of this article, albeit on a more meta-level, namely to demonstrate how Cognitive Grammar (hereafter CG) can be used as a descriptive framework for morphological constructions. CG (see the two-volume Foundations of Cognitive Grammar; Langacker 1987, 1991) is one of the earliest sub-theories of what would become known as the Cognitive Linguistics enterprise (Evans & Green 2006). As such, CG is also one of the oldest construction grammar theories, and has been used widely in the description of numerous grammatical constructions in various languages. However, compared to especially lexical, syntactic, and discourse studies, the use of CG in morphological descriptions has been rather scant. In addition to some writings by Langacker (e.g. 1990) and Taylor (e.g. 2002, 2015), two of the main proponents of CG, and an overview by Evan & Green (2006), the only other significant body of morphological research within this framework is by Tuggy (e.g. 2003, 2005) and Hamawand (2011). Van Huyssteen (2010) mentions several other morphological studies that have been done within the broader Cognitive Linguistics paradigm, though not specifically using CG as descriptive framework (e.g. Janda 2011; Manova 2011). This article therefore strives to contribute to this relatively small body of literature employing CG.

Of course, one would immediately ask why there is only such a small body of literature. Is CG perhaps not appropriate for morphological descriptions? There might be two main reasons why CG has not caught on as a popular morphological theory. Firstly, mainstream CG specialists have tended up to now to focus more on 'larger' constructions, such phrase, sentence and discourse constructions; 'smaller' constructions (like morphological constructions) have been mentioned in passing, or were described in isolated publications. …

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