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    A Corpus Study of Semantic Patterns in Compounding

    Maguire, Phil and Wisniewski, Edward J. and Storms, Gert (2010) A Corpus Study of Semantic Patterns in Compounding. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 6 (1). pp. 49-73. ISSN 1613-7035

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    Studies of modifier-noun compounds have indicated that they tend to follow regular semantic patterns (e.g., Downing, Language 53: 810–842, 1977; Warren, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. Gothenburg Studies in English Goteborg 41: 1–266, 1978). The results of several psycholinguistic studies have supported the hypothesis that people rely on statistical knowledge about how nouns tend to be used in combination in order to facilitate the interpretation of novel compounds (e.g., Gagné & Shoben, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 23: 71–87, 1997; Maguire, Maguire & Cater, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 36: 288–297, 2010; Storms & Wisniewski, Memory and Cognition 33: 852–861, 2005). We conducted a series of corpus analyses in order to establish the salience and reliability of semantic patterns in English compounds. These analyses demonstrated that similar concepts tend to appear in combination with similar sets of nouns. In addition, categorizing combinations according to the semantic category of the modifier and head revealed consistent regularities in productivity reflecting the likelihood of plausible relationships. These findings support the idea that statistical knowledge about semantic patterns in compounding can be used to facilitate the interpretation of novel compounds. The implications for existing theories and models of conceptual combination are discussed.

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is the preprint version of the published article, which is available at: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 6, Issue 1, Pages 49–73, ISSN (Online) 1613-7035, ISSN (Print) 1613-7027, DOI:
    Keywords: noun-noun compounds; conceptual combination; semantic patterns; language interpretation; statistic-based theories;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Computer Science
    Item ID: 10329
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Phil Maguire
    Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2018 15:03
    Journal or Publication Title: Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory
    Publisher: De Gruyter
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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