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Studies in Formal Linguistics

Universal Patterns and Language Specific Parameters

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Edited By Anna Bloch-Rozmej and Anna Bondaruk

This book investigates the nature and consequences of universal principles in four major grammar components, i.e. syntax, phonology, morphology and semantics. Language specific parameters are held responsible for the attested variation. The papers collected in this book analyse selected phenomena from English, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, and Polish, and shed new light on the interaction of universals and parameters in the structure of individual language systems. The generative framework is adopted as the theoretical model in the majority of contributions.

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Chapter 11 Constraints on Multi-Noun Compounding in English: A Corpus-Based Approach (Sebastian Wasak)

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Sebastian Wasak

John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

Chapter 11 Constraints on Multi-Noun Compounding in English: A Corpus-Based Approach

Abstract: Over the years, endocentric nominal compounding in English has attracted considerable attention from morphologists. Commonly explored issues in compounding include structure (e.g. Fabb 1998), stress placement (e.g. Fudge 1984; Zwicky 1986) and semantic typology (e.g. Levi 1978), among others. Morphological research has so far been mainly concerned with noun structures made up of only two nouns. Therefore, this study aims to bring under closer scrutiny multi-noun formations. More precisely, our study aims to shed new light on the following questions:

1. How often do speakers form noun compounds made up of more than two elements? Corpus data from the British National Corpus (BNC) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) point to a great disproportion between structures consisting of two nouns and multi-element compounds. While three-noun compounds are still reasonably frequent in both corpora, noun formations constructed of more than three nouns appear to be much scarcer. The relevant corpus data are presented and compared.

2. What are possible reasons for the low frequency of multi-noun structures? The analyis of the relevant corpus data leads to the conclusion that multi-noun structures are typically formed of lexicalised subcomponents; compounds that have been previously lexicalised commonly serve as bases for more complex noun structures; the low number of such lexicalised noun-noun structures is the main factor responsible...

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