Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Some new insights into the semantics of English N+N compounds

posted on 2024-06-12, 23:13 authored by Tarasova, Elizaveta

This thesis focuses on English N+N compounds and the primary purpose of the study is to investigate the way in which compounded structures acquire their meaning and to check the way in which the semantics of each of the constituents contributes to the overall meaning of the structure. The way in which such contributions are made should be inferable from the linguistic analysis of the structure and meaning of compounds. In order to do this, the thesis looks first at the morphological productivity of the constituents comprising a compound. The second aim is to identify whether the productivity of a compound constituent on the morphological level coincides with the productivity of the semantic relation realised in the constituent family. The discussion of the results obtained from a corpus study provides plausible explanations for the regularities noted in the course of the analysis by using some of the relevant principles from the complex of approaches including the Construction Grammar and Cognitive Grammar approaches. Examples of compounds were collected from the printed media (NZ broadsheets) and the BNC. The analysis of the data used both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative analysis of the data confirms two hypotheses: (1) that a constituent is more productive in just one of the positions (modifier or head), and (2) the more productive a constituent is, the more likely it is to realise a single semantic relation in a constituent family. The qualitative analysis involves consideration of the semantic content of the concepts in each constituent in order to see how this content is reflected in the semantic relations realised by a constituent. It is discovered that the semantic content of the head is a stronger predictor of the relation realised in a compound than that of the modifier. The study is important in order to better understand the factors that govern the formation of compounds and the patterns that speakers use in the process of coining complex lexical items ...


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Bauer, Laurie; Warren, Paul