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Gapping of complex words
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Gapping is the phenomenon that parts of complex words can be omitted under identity with another part elsewhere in a phrase. This type of gapping occurs mainly, but not exclusively, in phrases with coordination. Both backward gapping and forward gapping are possible:

Example 1

Backward gapping
a. land- en tuinbouw
agriculture and horticulture
b. storm- en regenachtig
stormy and rainy
c. twee- en drielingen
twins and triplets
d. im- en export
import and export
e. mono- en dialogen
monologues and dialogues
f. ont- en verwikkelingen
developments and complications
Example 2

Forward gapping
a. herenschoenen en -jassen
men's shoes and coats
b. puberzoon en –dochter
adolescent son and daughter
c. natuurbeheer en -bescherming
nature management and conservation

The general condition on this type of gapping is that the gapped word-part must form a prosodic word of its own.

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Gapping of parts of complex words is found predominantly with compounds and derived words that end in a non-cohering suffix:

Example 3

Backward gapping in compounds
a. land- en tuinbouw
agriculture and horticulture
b. wespe- en bijesteken
wasp stings and bee stings
c. hoofd- of nevenaccent
main stress or secondary stress
Example 4

Forward gapping in compounds
a. regelordening en -toepassing
rule ordering and rule application
b. herenschoenen en -jassen
men's shoes and coats
Example 5

Backward gapping in derived words
a. storm- en regenachtig
stormy and rainy
b. zicht- en tastbaar
visible and tangible
c. christen- en heidendom
christianity and heathendom
d. eenzijdig- of partijdigheid
one-sidedness or partiality
e. twee- en drielingen
twins and triplets
f. oever- en zouteloos
bank- and salt-less
endless and insipid
g. zwanger- en moederschap
pregnancy and motherhood
h. eer- en deugdzaam
respectable and virtuous

Forward gapping in derived words is rare, possibly due to the fact that gapping usually involves a semantic contrast, for which affixal meanings are not ideally suited (though combinations such as zoutarm of -rijksalt poor or richlow or high in salt seem possible).

The relevant generalization is that a prosodic word can be omitted under identity with another prosodic word in the same phrase. This explains why it is not possible to apply gapping to derived words with cohering suffixes, because cohering suffixes are not prosodic words; therefore a gapping such as *rod- of groenig reddish or greenish is ungrammatical.

Gapping is not only possible in the context of coordination, as shown by the following examples:

Example 6

a. uit de macro- naar de micro-wereld
from the macroworld to the microworld
b. Dat is eerder een voor- dan een nadeel
This is rather an advantage than a drawback

Backward gapping may also occur with a prefix as remnant, as in: ont- en verwikkelingen developments and complications. The gapped part verwikkelingen is a prosodic word by itself, without the prefix, and hence this type of gapping is possible.

Gapping is also possible in complex words consisting of two non-native roots, as in mono- en dialogen monologues and dialogues and im- en export import and export.

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The fact that the conditions for gapping are prosodic rather than morphological or syntactic also explains why the constituents of which one is gapped need not have identical syntactic or morphological status. For instance, in the gapped phrase ijs- en bruine beren polar bears and brown bears the part beren that is omitted is part of the compound ijsberen whereas it is the head of the phrase bruine beren. Other examples are eerste en ere-divisie first and honour-divisionfirst and premier league and wis- en natuurkunde mathematics and physics. The latter is a coordination of the compounds wiskundemathematics, with the (obsolete) adjective wis certainas its first constituent, and the compound natuurkunde physicswith the noun natuur nature. The formation of wis- en natuurkunde cannot be a matter of word-internal coordination in the non-head position of the compound, because it is normally impossible to coordinate constituents of unlike categories. The gapping analysis predicts correctly that the phrase wis- en natuurkunde is a plural NP that requires a plural finite verbal form:

Example 7

Wis- en natuurkunde zijn moeilijke vakken
Mathematics and physics are difficult subjects

If the two constituents wis and natuur had been conjoined in the non-head position of the compound, the phrase wis- en natuurkunde would have a singular head requiring a singular verbal form. The prosodic gapping analysis explains why a gapping like the following is possible: wis- en natuurkundige overwegingen mathematical and physical considerations  In this example, it is the part kundige that has been omitted. This is only a constituent in the prosodic structure of the relevant words, not in the morphological structure:

[[[[wis](A)[kunde](N)](N)ig](A)e](A) (wis)ω(kun.di.ge)ω

[[[[natuur](N)[kunde](N)](N)ig](A) e](A) (na.tuur)ω(kun.di.ge)ω

Gapping of parts of complex words is discussed in more detail in (Booij 1985).

References:
  • Booij, Geert1985Coordination reduction in complex words: a case for prosodic phonologyHulst, Harry van der & Smith, Norval (eds.)Advances in non-linear phonologyDordrechtForis Publications143-160
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