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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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4 Corpus Analysis - 111

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111 4 Corpus Analysis This chapter will deal with the evolution and use of nominal premodifiers in Present Day English. For that purpose, several cor- pora of written and spoken English have been selected and analysed. I have opted for a corpus study because it represents the best way of analysing N+N sequences from different perspectives (text category, speech community, time period, and mode) as well as the best way of providing information which otherwise would not be available by means of intuition. Besides, as noted in Svartvik (1992: 8), the re- sults deriving from a corpus study are more objective. In this respect, Biber, Conrad and Reppen (2001: 4) offer a useful summary of the benefits derived from a corpus study: (i) It is empirical. (ii) It is based on a collection of natural texts. (iii) It relies on computers for the analysis. (iv) It depends on both quantitative and qualitative methods of ana- lysis. Firstly, Section 4.1 presents an explanation of the main hypothesis of this volume from the perspective of the four different variables cho- sen for the study: text category, speech community, time period, and mode. Section 4.2 gives an account of the corpora used and of the methodology employed for the extraction of data. Section 4.3 then provides an overview of the data itself, taken from the corpora of written and spoken English, from the perspective of the four vari- ables. Section 4.4 goes on to examine the process of lexicalisation. Finally, Section 4.5 is...

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