The orthographic realisation of compounds with and derivations of multiword proper nouns

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A multiword proper noun is a phrasal construction that refers to a named entity, and that consists of two or more orthographic words. These orthographic words are separated by spaces, and are usually written with capital letters (with the exception of function words like articles, prepositions and particles). Examples include Nelson Mandela (personal name consisting of first name and surname), J. Chris Coetzee (personal name consisting of initial, first name and surname), J.M. Coetzee (personal name consisting of two initials and surname), Van Heerden (surname); Sunday Times (publication name); Pacific Ocean (geographical name); Organisation of African Unity (organisation name); Concordia Pharmacy (business name); Old Norse (language name), etc. Such multiword proper nouns contrast, morphographemically speaking, with compound proper nouns such as Johannesburg (Johannes + burg), or Hewlett-Packard (Hewlett + Packard).

In Afrikaans, there are no specific normative rules for the orthographic realisation of derivations of and compounds with such multiword proper nouns. For example, should we write Atlantiese Oseaan + verskynsel (“Atlantic Ocean” + “phenomenon”) as Atlantiese Oseaanverskynsel, Atlantiese-Oseaanverskynsel or Atlantieseoseaanverskynsel; and Atlantiese Oseaan ADJZ(where ADJZ represents an adjective-forming suffix) as Atlantiese Oseanies of Atlantiese-Oseanies of Atlantieseoseanies?

The primary aim of this article is to present a description of the orthographic realisation of these two constructions in Afrikaans, with a view to investigating the orthographic choices that users have when writing these constructions, as well as the actual choices that they make. The basic research question is: Is there a positive correlation between the orthographic form of a bare proper noun, and the orthographic form of such a proper noun in derivations and compounds? The secondary aim is to identify variables that have an influence on the way these constructions are written in Afrikaans, so that these variables can be operationalised in future corpus studies.

Three different methods are used in the investigation: (1) a comprehensive literature study, with a specific focus on normative rules in the Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls (AWS) (“Afrikaans Word List and Spelling Rules” – the standard orthographic guide for Afrikaans); (2) a corpus study using three assumedly different corpus sources, viz. edited texts, semi-edited texts and unedited texts; and (3) a questionnaire sent to language practitioners to gauge their preferred way of writing these constructions.

From the literature review it transpires that there is no unambiguous, uniform set of writing rules in the AWS for the orthographic realisation of derivations of, or compounds with, multiword proper nouns. In fact, some of the rules or remarks in the AWS contradict one another regarding the possible ways of writing these constructions. A summary is provided of all the possibilities that the AWS affords theoretically, and illustrated with derivations of and compounds with Middellandse See (“Mediterranean Sea”).

For the purposes of the corpus study, the focus is specifically on the use of capital letters (i.e. are the capital letters of multiword proper nouns preserved in these constructions?), and the conjunctive vs disjunctive orthographical realisation of these constructions (i.e. are the white spaces in multiword proper nouns preserved in such constructions?). Within the framework of Wallis, Bowie and Aarts’s (2012) so-called “model of choice”, we can say that the potential choice space for derivations of and compounds with a two-part multiword proper noun consists of 72 options, i.e. a matrix of eight (2x2x2; two choices – upper vs lower case – in three positions), by nine (3x3; three choices – disjunctive, conjunctive or conjunctive with a hyphen – in two positions). From the usage-based data it emerges that the choice space actually consists of only 23 options; theoretically possible cases like *AtlantieseOseaanVerskynsel and *atlantieseoseaan-Verskynsel do not occur in the data at all.

From the corpus study it appears as if the orthographic integrity of multiword proper nouns is mostly preserved in these kinds of morphological constructions. This finding is confirmed by the results of the questionnaire that was sent to language practitioners. 76% of respondents indicated a clear choice for rules that would preserve the orthographic form of such multiword proper nouns in derivations and compounds, e.g. Middellandse Seegebied (“Mediterranean Sea area”), Konstitusionele Hofregter (“Constitutional Court judge”) and Derde Wêreldland (“Third World country”); and Nabye Oosterse (“Near Eastern”), Verre Oosterse (“Far Eastern”), Ou Testamenties (“Old Testament ADJZ”) and Derde Wêrelds (“Third World ADJZ”).

Four variables that could be operationalised in future research are identified, viz.:

  • part of speech of the resulting word form
  • institutionalisation of the resulting word form in normative literature and dictionaries
  • level of entrenchment of the multiword proper noun
  • the difference between edited and unedited texts.

The article concludes with a summary of all findings, and some recommendations for normative rules in an orthographic guide such as the AWS.

Keywords: Afrikaans; Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls; corpus; morphology; multiword orthography; phrasal construction; proper noun

Lees die volledige artikel in Afrikaans: Die ortografiese realisering van komposita met en afleidings van multiwoordeiename

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