Article published in:Variation and Change in Morphology: Selected papers from the 13th International Morphology Meeting, Vienna, February 2008
Edited by Franz Rainer, Wolfgang U. Dressler, Dieter Kastovsky and Hans Christian Luschützky
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 310] 2010
► pp. 53–74
French property nouns based on toponyms or ethnic adjectives
A case of base variation
We examine a case of base variation related to property noun formation, viz.-ité-suffixed French nouns expressing the character proper both to those who belong/are related to a place (town, country…) and/or to the place itself (henceforth Ethnic Property Nouns (EPNs)). The study is based on a web-extracted corpus and shows that speakers largely coin EPNs either from toponyms (portugal > portugalité ‘Portugal-ness’ = ‘Portugueseness’), from related ethnic adjectives (afrique ‘Africa’ > africain ‘African’ > africanité ‘Africanness’) or from both (belgique ‘Belgium‘ > belgicité ‘Belgium-ness’; belge ‘Belgian’ > belgité ‘Belgianness’). The examples show that these base variations are unrelated to meaning but rather correlate with four formal competing constraints: one of them, i.e. what we call ‘lexical pressure’, can explain the form of the output. We then describe a survey experiment, which corroborates our analysis. Finally, the scope of our conclusions goes beyond French EPNs, as they apply to other word formation rules in many languages.
Published online: 24 February 2010
Cited by 5 other publications
Dal, Georgette, Fiammetta Namer, F. Neveu, G. Bergounioux, M.-H. Côté, J.-M. Fournier, L. Hriba & S. Prévost
Koehl, Aurore & Stéphanie Lignon
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