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Allomorphy

Constructional idioms for subsets of compounds enable us to express specific properties of words when embedded in compounds which are not restricted to one lexicalized compound, and can be used to coin new compounds. This special property can also be a phonological property: compounds may require a particular allomorph of a word used as compound constituent.

As observed in Booij(2010b: Chapter 3), the Dutch noun eer ‘honour’ has an allomorph ere. The short form is the effect of a historical process of schwa apocope. The long form is still used in fixed expressions such as Ere wie ere toekomt ‘Honour to whom deserves honour’, and in old religious songs. Both the short and the long form occur in the modifier slot of NN compounds:

(41) a. eer-betoon ‘honour-show, mark of honour’

eer-bewijs ‘honour-proof, mark of honour’ eer-gevoel ‘honour-sense, sense of honour’

b. ere-divisie ‘honour-division, premier league’ ere-dienst ‘honour-service, religious service’ ere-boog ‘honour-arch, triumphal arch’

However, it is only the long form that is used if it carries the meaning ‘honorary’, and that can be used for coining new compounds with the meaning ‘honorary x’. In that sense, the noun ere has become a prefixoid, and this meaning of the allomorph ere has to be specified in a constructional idiom:

(42) ere-lid / *eer-lid ‘honour-member, honorary member’ ere-voorzitter / *eer-voorzitter ‘honour-president, honorary president’

The rise of this constructional idiom is another example of how the word formation possibilities of Dutch are extended, through the availability of a special bound morpheme for the expression of the notion ‘honorary’.

 
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