Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 21, 2020

Extravagant “fake” morphemes in Dutch. Morphological productivity, semantic profiles and categorical flexibility

Kristel Van Goethem EMAIL logo and Muriel Norde


Dutch features several morphemes with “privative” semantics that occur as left-hand members in compounds (e.g., imitatieleer ‘imitation leather’, kunstgras ‘artificial grass’, nepjuwelen ‘fake jewels’). Some of these “fake” morphemes display great categorical flexibility and innovative adjectival uses. Nep, for instance, is synchronically attested as an inflected adjective (e.g., neppe cupcake ‘fake cupcake’). In this paper, we combine an extensive corpus study of eight Dutch “fake” morphemes with statistical methods in distributional semantics and collexeme analysis in order to compare their semantic and morphological properties and to find out which factors are the driving forces behind their exceptional “extravagant” morphological behavior. Our analyses show that debonding and adjectival reanalysis are triggered by an interplay of two factors, i.e., type frequency and semantic coherence, which allow us to range the eight morphemes on a cline from more schematic to more substantive “fake” constructions.

Corresponding author: Kristel Van Goethem, F.R.S.-FNRS, Institut Langage et Communication, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, E-mail:

Funding source: Belgian National Research Fund (F.R.S.-FNRS)

Award Identifier / Grant number: Research Credit FNRS-CDR J.0211.20 ACCROSS


Baayen, Harald & Rochelle Lieber. 1991. Productivity and English derivation: A corpus-based study. Linguistics 29. 801─843. in Google Scholar

Baayen, Harald. 2009. Corpus linguistics in morphology: Morphological productivity. In Anke Lüdeling & Merja Kytö (eds.), Corpus linguistics. An international handbook, 900─919. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Barðdal, Jóhanna. 2008. Productivity: Evidence from case and argument structure in Icelandic. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/cal.8Search in Google Scholar

Battefeld, Malte, Torsten Leuschner & Gudrun Rawoens. 2018. “Evaluative Morphology” in German, Dutch and Swedish: Constructional networks and the loci of change. In Kristel Van Goethem, Muriel Norde, Evie Coussé & Gudrun Vanderbauwhede (eds.), Category change from a constructional perspective, 229─262. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/cal.20.09batSearch in Google Scholar

Bauer, Laurie. 1997. Evaluative morphology: In search of universals. Studies in Language 21(3). 533–575. in Google Scholar

Booij, Geert. 2009. Compounding and construction morphology. In Rochelle Lieber & Pavol Štekauer (eds.), The Oxford handbook of compounding, 201─216. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199695720.013.0010Search in Google Scholar

Booij, Geert. 2010. Construction morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1111/j.1749-818X.2010.00213.xSearch in Google Scholar

Cappelle, Bert, Pascal Denis & Manuela Keller. 2018. Facing the facts of fake: A distributional semantics and corpus annotation approach. Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association 6(1). 9─42. in Google Scholar

Dressler, Wolfgang Ulrich & Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi. 1994. Morphopragmatics. Diminutives and intensifiers in Italian, German, and other languages. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110877052Search in Google Scholar

Dressler, Wolfgang Ulrich & Annemarie Karpf. 1995. The theoretical relevance of pre- and protomorphology in language acquisition. In Geert Booij & Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of morphology, 99─122. Dordrecht: Kluwer.10.1007/978-94-017-3714-2_4Search in Google Scholar

Eitelmann, Matthias & Dagmar Haumann. 2019. Extravagant morphology. Workshop organized at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE 2019), Leipzig University, 21─24 August 2019.10.1075/slcs.223Search in Google Scholar

Firth, John Rupert. 1957. A synopsis of linguistic theory 1930─1955. In John Rupert Firth (ed.), Studies in linguistic analysis, 1─32. Oxford: Blackwell.Search in Google Scholar

Geurts, Bart. 2000a. Explaining grammaticalization (the standard way). Linguistics 38(4). 781–788. in Google Scholar

Geurts, Bart. 2000b. Function or fashion? Reply to Martin Haspelmath. Linguistics 38(6). 1175–1180. in Google Scholar

Goldberg, Adele. 2006. Constructions at work: The nature of generalization in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199268511.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Goublomme, Florette. 2019. Het gebruik van het adjectief “fake” in het Nederlands. Corpusstudie en enquête bij moedertaalsprekers Nederlands over het gebruik van “fake” in geschreven en gesproken taal [The use of the adjective “fake” in Dutch. Corpus study and survey of native Dutch speakers on the use of “fake” in written and spoken language]. Bachelorpaper supervised by K. Van Goethem Université catholique de Louvain.Search in Google Scholar

Grandi, Nicola & Körtvélyessy, Lívia (eds.), 2015. Edinburgh handbook of evaluative morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.10.1515/9780748681754Search in Google Scholar

Gyselinck, Emmeline & Timothy Colleman. 2016. Je dood vervelen of je te pletter amuseren? Het intensiverende gebruik van de pseudoreflexieve resultatiefconstructie in hedendaags Belgisch en Nederlands Nederlands [To be bored to death or to enjoy oneself tremendously? The intensifying use of the pseudo-reflexive resultative construction in contemporary Belgian and Dutch Dutch]. Handelingen: Koninlijke Zuid-Nederlandse Maatschappij voor Taal- en letterkunde en geschiedenis 69. 103─136.10.21825/kzm.v69i0.17529Search in Google Scholar

Haspelmath, Martin. 1999. Why is grammaticalization irreversible? Linguistics 37(6). 1043─1068. in Google Scholar

Hoffmann, Thomas & Graeme Trousdale (eds.). 2013. The Oxford handbook of Construction Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195396683.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Keller, Rudi. 1994. Language change: The invisible hand in language. London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Kilgarriff, Adam, Vít Baisa, Jan Bušta, Miloš Jakubíček, Vojtěch Kovář, Jan Michelfeit, Pavel Rychlý & Vít Suchomel. 2014. The Sketch Engine: Ten years on. Lexicography 1. 7─36. in Google Scholar

Körtvélyessy, Lívia. 2014. Evaluative morphology. In Rochelle Lieber and Pavol Štekauer (eds.), The Oxford handbook of derivational morphology, 296─316. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Levshina, Natalia. 2015. How to do linguistics with R. Data exploration and statistical analysis. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.10.1075/z.195Search in Google Scholar

Levshina, Natalia & Kris Heylen. 2014. A radically data-driven Construction Grammar: Experiments with Dutch causative constructions. In Ronny Boogaart, Timothy Colleman & Gijsbert Rutten (eds.), Extending the scope of construction grammar (Cognitive Linguistics Research 54), 19─46. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110366273.17Search in Google Scholar

Mattiello, Elisa. 2013. Extra-grammatical morphology in English: Abbreviations, blends, reduplicatives, and related phenomena. Berlin & Boston: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110295399Search in Google Scholar

Maechler, Martin, Peter Rousseeuw, Anja Struyf, Mia Hubert & Hornik Kurt. 2019. cluster: Cluster analysis basics and extensions R package version 2.0.9.Search in Google Scholar

Norde, Muriel. 2009. Degrammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207923.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Norde, Muriel & Kristel Van Goethem. 2014. Bleaching, productivity and debonding of prefixoids. A corpus-based analysis of “giant” in German and Swedish. Lingvisticae Investigationes 37(2). 256–274. in Google Scholar

Norde, Muriel & Kristel Van Goethem. 2015. Emancipatie van affixen en affixoïden: Degrammaticalisatie of lexicalisatie? [Emancipation of affixes and affixoids: Degrammaticalization or lexicalization?]. Nederlandse Taalkunde 20(1). 109─148. in Google Scholar

Norde, Muriel & Kristel Van Goethem. 2018. Debonding and clipping of prefixoids in Germanic: Constructionalization or constructional change? In Geert Booij (ed.), The construction of words (Studies in Morphology 4), 475─518. Cham etc.: Springer.10.1007/978-3-319-74394-3_17Search in Google Scholar

R Core Team. 2016. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. URL in Google Scholar

Schäfer, Roland. 2015. Processing and querying large web corpora with the COW 14 architecture. In Piotr Bański, Hanno Biber, Evelyn Breiteneder, Marc Kupietz, Harald Lüngen, & Andreas Witt (eds.), Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Challenges in the Management of Large Corpora (CMLC-3), 28─34. Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache.Search in Google Scholar

Stefanowitsch, Anatol & Stefan Th. Gries. 2003. Collostructions: Investigating the interaction of words and constructions. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 8(2). 209─243. in Google Scholar

Szymanek, Bogdan. 1988. Categories and categorization in morphology. Lublin: Redakcja Wydawnictw Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego.Search in Google Scholar

Van Goethem, Kristel & Hendrik De Smet. 2014. How nouns turn into adjectives. The emergence of new adjectives in French, English and Dutch through debonding processes. Languages in Contrast 14(2). 251─277. in Google Scholar

Van Goethem, Kristel & Philippe Hiligsmann. 2014. When two paths converge: Debonding and clipping of Dutch reuze ‘lit. giant; great’. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 26(1). 31─64. in Google Scholar

Van Goethem, Kristel & Matthias Hüning. 2015. From noun to evaluative adjective: Conversion or debonding? Dutch top and its equivalents in German. Journal of Germanic linguistics 27(4). 366─409. in Google Scholar

Van Goethem, Kristel & Nikos Koutsoukos. 2018. Morphological transposition as the onset of recategorization. The case of luxe in Dutch. Linguistics 56(6). 1369─1412.10.1515/ling-2018-0026Search in Google Scholar

von Mengden, Ferdinand & Anneliese Kuhle. 2020. Recontextualization and language change. To appear in Folia Linguistica Historica 41.10.1515/flih-2020-0008Search in Google Scholar

Wouden, Ton van der. 2019. nep-. Taalportaal. Retrieved from (accessed 05 December 2019).Search in Google Scholar

Zwicky, Arnold M. & Geoffrey K. Pullum. 1987. Plain morphology and expressive morphology. General session and parasession on grammar and cognition. In Jon Aske, Natasha Beery, Laura Michaelis & Hana Filip (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 330─340. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society.10.3765/bls.v13i0.1817Search in Google Scholar

Online corpora and dictionaries

Published Online: 2020-10-21

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 5.12.2022 from
Scroll Up Arrow