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n. (context linguistics English) A copulative or coordinative type of a compound in which members, if not compounded, would be in the same case and connected by the conjunction (term: and). Common in languages such as Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese, but less so in English.


A dvandva ( Sanskrit द्वन्द्व dvandva 'pair') is a linguistic compound in which multiple individual nouns are concatenated to form an agglomerated compound word in which the conjunction 'and' has been elided to form a new word with a distinct semantic field. So, for instance, the individual words 'brother' and 'sister' may be agglomerated to 'brothersister' to express "siblings". The grammatical number of such constructs is generally plural or dual. The term dvandva is borrowed from Sanskrit, a language in which these linguistic compounds are common. Dvandvas also exist in Avestan, the Old Iranian language related to Sanskrit, as well as in numerous Modern Indic languages descended from the Prakrits. Several far-eastern languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean also have dvandvas. Dvandvas may also be found occasionally in European languages, but are relatively rare.

Examples include:

  • Sanskrit mātāpitarau (मातापितरौ) for "parents" (lit. 'mother-father').
  • Chinese shānchuān and Japanese yamakawa (山川) for 'mountains and rivers'
  • Modern Greek μαχαιροπήρουνο for "cutlery" (lit. 'fork-knife'), ανδρόγυνο for "married couple" (lit. 'husband-wife').
  • Finnic maa-ilma ("land-air") for "world".
  • Friulian marimont ("sea-world") for "the entire world, the universe"

Dvadvas should not be confused with agglutination, which also concatenates words but is a different process.