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Menscheln, kibbelen, sparkle

, Geert Booij, Ray Jackendoff

Abstract: German, Dutch and English have surprisingly large sets of verbal diminutives: verbs ending in -el/-le and carrying an attenuative and/or iterative meaning. These verbs exhibit particular properties that make them interesting for morphological theory. Focussing on Dutch data, this paper sketches the challenges that arise with respect to structure, productivity and meaning, and proposes a constructionist account that allows for a better understanding of the issues. The central notion is the schema, a generalization over the structure of complex words. In contrast to rules, whose main function is to generate new words, schemas motivate existing words by marking their structure as non-arbitrary. We discuss the modelling options this gives us and apply them to the verbal diminutives.
Keywords: structure / verbs / modelling / function / Dutch / diminutives / verbal / schema / words / German

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