Les composés N-N de subordination : un paradigme émergent

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Jan Radimský


This paper aims at examining the causes of the emergence of French subordinate Noun-Noun compounds. It is well known that the Noun-Noun pattern in French remains marginal compared to other lexicogenic processes, especially N-PREP-N or N-A, and it is supposed that its appearance as well as its progressive development took place during the last two centuries (19th-20th). The aim of this paper is to examine more in detail when and why French Noun-Noun structures emerge. As for the first question, empirical data from the Frantext corpus allow to hypothesize that both the type and the token frequency of French Noun-Noun compounds remain stable since the thirties of the nineteenth century until the end of the Second World War and that after this period, especially during the sixties, it begins to grow exponentially. Contrary to Arnaud’s estimate (2003, p. 141), no significant change in frequency or productivity was observed around the middle of the 19th century. As for the second question, the author claims that the emergence of subordinate N-N compounds was triggered by an increase in the productivity of the attributive N-N compounds, for which there is no competitive pattern in French. The theoretical rationale of this hypothesis is anchored in paradigmatic approaches to word formation, with specific reference to the formalization made according to the Construction Morphology framework (Booij, 2010).


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