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[WS130] The semantics of compounding


Author: Pius ten Hacken

Title : The semantics of compounding

For a long period following the demise of generative semantics, the study of the semantics of compounding was relegated to the domain of unfruitful research questions. For many linguists in the 1980s, Levi’s (1978) framework for deriving compounds served as an example of how not to do morphology. Research interest was restricted to verbal compounds, which could be studied in terms of argument structure and thus reduced to a quasi-syntactic status. For so-called root compounds, Allen’s (1978) Variable R condition was deemed sufficient.

In recent years, a renewed interest in the semantics of compounds has emerged. At least three major approaches can be observed. Jackendoff (2009, 2010) proposed a system for generating conceptual structures for compounds within his Parallel Architecture. His interest in compounding is fairly recent and he developed his framework largely independently of the needs of morphology. Slightly earlier, Lieber (2004, 2009) had developed a system that is inspired on one hand by Jackendoff’s theory of conceptual structure, on the other by her own long-term research in morphology, which in earlier stages had been mainly oriented towards syntax-based accounts, cf. Lieber (1983). Parallel to these developments in generative linguistics, in Central and Eastern Europe an alternative tradition based on the onomasiological approach to meaning had persisted. This tradition is represented by, for instance, Štekauer (1998). In this tradition, naming needs are taken to drive word formation. Interestingly, in recent years, this tradition has increasingly taken into account the hearer’s perspective, as illustrated by Štekauer (2009), which brings about a certain degree of convergence in aims with the generative approaches.

The purpose of this workshop is to bring together representatives of the three above-mentioned approaches. At the same time, it should be noted that all three theories were developed first of all for English. Therefore, there is a specific interest in broadening the set of linguistic data taken into account by considering compounding in other languages.

Precision for abstract submission :

The workshop will consist of three two-hour sessions. Each session will be filled by three presentations (30 minutes plus discussion). Presentations should compare, apply, or evaluate one or more of the approaches indicated above. In order to be considered, please send an abstract of up to 500 words (excluding bibliography) to the workshop organizer at p.ten-hacken(at) by 15 July.


Allen, Margaret R. (1978), Morphological Investigations, Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Connecticut.

Jackendoff, Ray (2009), ‘Compounding in the Parallel Architecture and Conceptual Semantics’, in Lieber & Štekauer (eds.), pp. 105-128.

Jackendoff, Ray (2010), Meaning and the Lexicon: The Parallel Architecture 1975-2010, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Levi, Judith N. (1978), The syntax and semantics of complex nominals, New York: Academic Press.

Lieber, Rochelle (1983), ‘Argument Linking and Compounds in English’, Linguistic Inquiry 14:251-285.

Lieber, Rochelle (2004), Morphology and Lexical Semantics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lieber, Rochelle (2009), ‘A lexical semantic approach to compounding’, in Lieber & Štekauer (eds.), pp. 78-104.

Lieber, Rochelle & Štekauer, Pavol (eds.) (2009), The Oxford Handbook of Compounding, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Štekauer, Pavol (1998), An Onomasiological Theory of English Word-Formation, Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Štekauer, Pavol (2009), ‘Meaning predictability of novel context-free compounds’, in Lieber & Štekauer (eds.), pp. 272-297.

25.07.2013   10:30-12:30

Chair: Pius ten Hacken

10:30 - 11:10 Pius TEN HACKEN
Compounding in the Parallel Architecture
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11:10 - 11:50 Rochelle LIEBER
Compounding and lexical semantics
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11:50 - 12:30 Pavol ŠTEKAUER
Compounding and onomasiological types
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25.07.2013   14:00-16:00

Chair: Zoe Gavriilidou

14:00 - 14:30 Pierre ARNAUD
A fine-grained semasiological classification of modification relations in French relational subordinative [NN]N compounds (timbre-poste)
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14:30 - 15:00 Janet DECESARIS
Delimiting noun-noun compounds in Spanish
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15:00 - 15:30 Ingmarie MELLENIUS et al.
The Semantics of Compounds in Swedish Child Language
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15:30 - 16:00 Cosima SCHOLZ
Exocentric compounding in the Parallel Architecture
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25.07.2013   16:30-18:30

Chair: Janet DeCesaris

16:30 - 17:00 Renáta PANOCOVÁ
In what sense are neoclassical compounds really compounds?
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17:00 - 17:30 Zoe GAVRIILIDOU
The semantics of NN combinations in Greek
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17:30 - 18:00 Carola TRIPS
An analysis of phrasal compounds in the model of Parallel Architecture
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18:00 - 18:30 Pius TEN HACKEN
A comparison of three analyses of selected compound types
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