For those of you wanting to delve even further into the mechanics of compounding and understand Swedish, the linked article above is certainly worth reading.The linking elements, called interfix by the linguists, that are used to combine nouns into compound nouns in Swedish, appear to be historic case endings, usually genitive. The original genders of the words and their respective case endings would account for the various elements, i.e. -e-, -o-, -u-, -s-. Examples: skattekontor (tax office), kvinnoklinik (women's clinic), gatukontor ('street office', i.e. city council office for street maintenance) and järnvägsstation (railway station).The s suffix then evolved into two functions: 1) standard genitive marker for all genders and 2) the most common interfix for compounds.
There are clearly defined rules and patterns for how compound nouns are formed, i.e. whether to insert an -s- or not. I won't go into too much detail as it is thoroughly explained in this article (p. 4-9), suffice to say that it depends on the amount of syllables and morphemes of the first part, and there are phonetic rules to avoid difficult consonant clusters, journalistpris being one example - journalistspris would be very difficult to pronounce. Remember that Swedish compound nouns should always be written as one continuous word, not two or more as in English.
I would agree. After all, we only pronounce one 's' phoneme in this case in fluent speech, since skelett starts with an s, so both versions would sound the same.After reading the article and a second listening I must agree it sounds better than spindelapskelett. Although, as a native speaker, I can't say the latter sounds completely unacceptable.
Darn! I should have proofread once more before submitting! Yes, monomorphemic is what I meant.Just a few comments. The word/lexeme 'apa' is not monosyllabic. However, the stem 'ap-' is both monomorphemic and monosyllabic. However, judging from your knowledgeable posts I am quite sure you already knew that.
I would agree, of course, the number of morphemes is primary, and the number of syllables secondary. This was a somewhat sloppy sweeping statement where I was trying to cover any eventuality. The author does mention in passing bisyllabic morphemes ending with a vowel, which normally don't take the -s- interfix, so that's probably where the syllables came into the equation.You also mention that the number of syllables has an impact, but I cannot find anything in the article about that. The author writes that it's the number of morphemes of the first part that's important. Two counterexamples are:
årstid (år is monosyllabic)
sadelmakare (sadel is polysyllabic)
Since most monosyllabic words are also monomorphemic (I cannot think of any that aren't), and most polysyllabic words are polymorphemic, there is obviously a correlation, between the number of syllables and the use of the interfix, but that correlation would be secondary and indirect.
I interpreted the -e- interfix as a trace of a historic genitive suffix other than -s-. It remains in modern Swedish in compounds like flickebarn and apekatt, but if you look in the SAOB(*), you'll find several other, now obsolete, compounds with flicke- and ape-, though most of the current compounds with flicka+noun or apa+noun are formed with flick- and ap- respectively. In addition, it lists flickbarn as obsolete, so apparently that variant has indeed existed!Finally, I would also like to agree with you that the form spindelapeskelett would be unsuitable in a formal context.
Recently, I was reading an article in Göteborgs-Posten where the journalist used the word 'flickebarn'. At first the -e- form struck me as dialectal, but after further introspection I concluded that it had a poetic/formal flavour in the context. So in my mind, the -e- forms can belong to several linguistic registers. I was also asking myself whether you could even use the form 'flickbarn'. It sounds slighty unusual to me.