Tree tigers and tree elephants: A constructional account of English nominal compounds

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The description of English nominal compounds (ENCs) poses a challenge to linguistic theories because ENCs compress a bewildering array of semantic and conceptual information into a relatively simple syntactic structure. The present contribution reviews linguistic and psycholinguistic efforts to meet this challenge in a variety of ways. It is proposed that a superior explanation is one that treats the semantic and syntactic (and conceptual and prosodic) information as a constructional unity, learned and used as a distinct linguistic entity rather than as a derivative of construction-independent rules and processes. The proposed ENC construction is claimed to have theoretical, functional, and cognitive adequacy, a desideratum of linguistic theories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStructural-functional studies in English grammar
Subtitle of host publicationin honour of Lachlan Mackenzie
EditorsMike Hannay, Gerard Steen
Place of PublicationAmsterdam, The Netherlands
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages30
Edition1 / 83
ISBN (Print)9789027230935
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameStudies in Language Companion Series
PublisherJohn Benjamins


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