The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–46

Diminutive-formation in German

Spelling out the classifier analysis
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10828-010-9040-x

Cite this article as:
Ott, D. J Comp German Linguistics (2011) 14: 1. doi:10.1007/s10828-010-9040-x

Abstract

In German, mass nouns can be turned into count nouns by means of two alternative strategies: either by using them in connection with a numeral classifier, or by adding the diminutive morpheme (-chen). In this paper, I argue that the two strategies are structurally exactly parallel, with both kinds of elements (numeral classifiers and diminutive -chen) being exponents of an individuating functional head. The (superficial) difference is that -chen—which I show is a clitic-like element—triggers obligatory movement of the nominalized root to its Spec. By contrast, this movement is optional with a (non-deficient) numeral classifier, yielding both ‘analytic’ and ‘compound’ forms. The picture that emerges from the discussion is a unified analysis of count structures in German.

Keywords

DiminutivesClassifiersGermanMorphologySyntax

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA