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The Status and Development of N+N Sequences in Contemporary English Noun Phrases

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Iria Pastor Gomez

This volume aims to carry out a comprehensive analysis of those nouns within the structure of the noun phrase which are referred to as N+N sequences (e.g. drug addiction, computer cluster). They are studied from three perspectives, namely their status as syntactic constructs, their evolution as becoming morphological items through a process of lexicalisation – whereby they gradually acquire properties of a semantic, morphological, orthographic and phonological nature –, and their use in which several variables such as speech community, mode and textual category are in operation. Additionally, this volume touches upon the problems in establishing clear-cut boundaries between morphology and syntax in order to define their status and evolution. A comprehensive corpus analysis rounds off the study.

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Table of Contents - 9

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9Table of Contents 1 Introduction .............................................................................13 1.1 Aims ........................................................................................14 1.2 Overview of the research ........................................................14 2 Noun Phrase Structure ............................................................17 2.1 Definition, function and structural patterns of noun phrases ...18 2.1.1 Definition of noun phrases............................................18 2.1.2 Noun phrases and nominals ..........................................23 2.1.3 Structural patterns .........................................................24 2.2 Premodification .......................................................................30 2.2.1 Component parts of premodification ............................30 2.2.2 Order of premodifiers ...................................................31 2.2.3 Possible combinations...................................................33 2.3 The role of premodification as opposed to postmodification .................................................................36 2.3.1 Previous studies ............................................................36 2.3.2 Lack of explicitness and context information ..............37 2.3.3 The pragmatic function of premodification ..................40 2.4 Summary and concluding remarks .........................................42 3 Nominal Modifiers: Definition and Characteristics ...............45 3.1 Nominal modifiers ..................................................................45 3.1.1 Nouns as modifiers .......................................................46 3.1.2 The variability of stress patterns ...................................49 3.1.3 Morphological properties of nouns as modifiers ..........53 3.1.4 Suggested reasons for the use of N+N sequences ........56 3.1.4.1 Compactness ....................................................56 3.1.4.2 Availability .......................................................57 3.1.4.3 Predictability ....................................................58 10 3.2 Earlier analyses of N+N structures ...................................... 59 3.3 Ambiguity in N+N sequences .............................................. 67 3.3.1 Syntactic ambiguity ................................................... 68 3.3.2 Semantic ambiguity ................................................... 70 3.3.3 Categorial ambiguity: gradience and conversion in N+N structures .................................... 74 3.4 The boundary between syntax and morphology .................. 78 3.4.1 Criteria for the definition of the status of N+N structures ....................................................... 80 3.4.2 The process of acquisition of new lexicon: institutionalisation and lexicalisation ........................ 88 3.4.2.1 Compounding and compounds ..................... 88 3.4.2.2 Institutionalisation and lexicalisation ........... 96 3.4.3 Concluding remarks. Can N+N structures be considered a method of word formation? ..............100 3.5 Nominal modifiers versus other kinds of modification within the noun phrase (genitive phrases, adjectives,...

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