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Syntactic variation in compounds and idioms: some insights from a root-based analysis

Back to issue: Linguistische Berichte Heft 259
EUR 19.90

This paper provides an analysis of nominal root compounds in German and English in an XS (exoskeletal) neo-constructionist framework, and shows how this can account for some data that are problematic for other lexicalist and non-lexicalist (e.g. DM based) approaches to compounding. A distinction is made between two syntactic patterns of compounding in the languages investigated here, one that productively derives compositional compounds and one that derives compounds of limited or no compositionality. The derivation of the latter pattern is associated with a compound frame in an XS-model, while the former is shown to be fully derivable in syntax. Both patterns rely on simple Merge as the driving force behind the derivation of nominal root compounds. In a second step the analysis suggested for the latter type of nominal root compounds is extended to another empirical domain where non-compositionality plays a role, i.e. idioms, and it is shown that the analysis can readily account for a certain type of idiom instantiated by nominalized infinitives in German