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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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1 Introduction -13

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13 1 Introduction The English language is a boundless source of investigation. As with many other fields of scientific study, new discoveries simply lead to new questions, and hence open up further avenues of research. The phenomenon under investigation in this volume has been present in the English language for centuries and has been a major source of word formation, along with borrowing and derivation. However, during the 20th century a sudden and very significant increase in the use of these devices was noted (cf. Biber/Clark 2002). Trends and fashions emerge constantly in contemporary society, and language, as an essential component of social interaction, is also governed by fashion. By implication, the use of nouns in modifying position in Present Day English seems to be the result of a trend, with the use of such forms increasing and spreading through the language. How- ever, this only constitutes a superficial explanation of a linguistic phenomenon which merits a far more detailed and analytical assess- ment. As we will see in this volume, there is only a small available literature on this topic, and most extant research only deals in a rela- tively superficial way with it. Indeed, some studies have looked at N+N structures as part of a wider investigation (cf. Jucker 1992; Biber/Clark 2002), while others have addressed very specific issues (cf. Warren 1978 and Benczes 2006, an assessment from a semantic point of view; Giegerich 2004, from a phonetic perspective; Rosen- bach 2007, a comparison of N+N sequences to...

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