Chapter 2. The internal structure of compounds

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Chapter 1 covered some general definitions of what is and is not considered a compound in this study. The present chapter completes the presentation of the notion of compounding by considering the internal structure and semantic properties of various compound types. It shows that compounds exhibit two basic general structures, viz., hierarchical and non-hierarchical. In the former, one of the constituents is the head, and the other one is subordinate to it in some way (e.g., hombre lobo ‘werewolf’, lit. ‘man wolf’). In non-hierarchical compounds, there are no dependent constituents, so both (or all, in the case of compounds with more than two constituents) are heads (e.g., sofá cama ‘sofa bed’). Both hierarchical and non-hierarchical compounds exhibit a variety of syntactic relationships between their constituents, as we shall see. Independently of these internal relationships, one must also consider the relationship between the constituents and the higher node, which stands for the entire compounded structure. When constituents pass on their syntactico-semantic properties to the whole, then the compound is said to be endocentric (e.g., a pájaro campana ‘bell bird’, lit. ‘bird bell’ is a type of bird). If they do not, the resulting compound is exocentric (e.g., a sacacorchos ‘corkscrew’, lit. ‘remove-corks’ is neither a type of saca ‘remove’ nor of corchos ‘corks’). This chapter explores these different structural configurations and their semantic consequences.


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