dvandva definition in OED II.

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UK.AC.UCL
Fri Nov 30 13:40:37 UTC 1990


[I wrote a long note on this yesterday, and then crashed through
several Unix shells and ended up with an unretrievable "detatched
process".  Very annoying, and my own fault.]
Briefly,  I see now, of course, that "dvandva" has to be in the OED.
I also see that the dot under the "n" was pras'astavacana.  :-)
And my point about the sense of the copula stands, I think.
What the OED says (I now have a copy of the page) is this:
  dvandva ... A compound word in which the elements are related to each
  other as if joined by a copula.
It then goes on to give an example from MW, "... nouns ... connected
by a copulative conjunction [etc.]".
There is no doubt in my mind that the sense of "the copula" is "to be".
This is what I was taught as a student, and I have checked a few
dictionaries and textbooks.  The confusion arises because dvandvas
are called "copulative compounds" and MW uses the unfortunate phrase
"copulative conjunction", referring to "and".  It seems clear that the
writer of this OED entry has been misled by all these uses of the
word "copulative" into thinking that the sense implied between the
members of a dvandva was "the copula".  This is quite wrong, of course.
We all know what a dvandva is (nice English illustrations, Brendan;
thank you), and it's not expressing a relationship of subject and
predicate, or substantives in apposition, which is what one would have
to assume from reading the OED.
I rest my case.

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