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BY 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2018

Playful nonce-formations in French: Creativity and productivity

From the book Expanding the Lexicon

  • Georgette Dal and Fiammetta Namer


Nonce-formations, conceived as “[n]ew complex word[s] created by a speaker / writer on the spur of the moment to cover some immediate need” (Bauer 1983: 45), have been a theme in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic studies for several decades now (cf. among others Lipka 1975; Bauer 1983; Hohenhaus 1996; Crystal 2000; Štekauer 2002; Kerremans 2015), but they have received very little investigation in the French domain. Although nowadays all the conditions are met for the capture of observable data with the use of large corpora, French morphologists tend to be suspicious of individual coinages, especially if they are playful and diverge from what they consider established word formation rules. In French studies, despite the emergence of corpus-based studies, context is rarely taken into consideration, and the generative distinction between competence and performance often remains active: nonce-formations are in the scope of performance, (socio-)pragmatics or stylistics; therefore, they are not to be taken into account in morphological studies. However, nonce-formations address some interesting morphological issues: do they have to be taken into account for productivity measures? What about the clear-cut distinction between productivity and creativity? In the vein of Dal and Namer (2016a), this paper focuses on patterns of emergence of playful nonce-formations in French. After a brief definition of nonce-formations (§ 1), we first identify several recurring patterns of emergence of nonce-formations (§ 2). We then use these patterns to build a continuum among playful nonce-formations (§ 3.1). Lastly, issues related to productivity are discussed (§ 3.2).

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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