The head in compounding

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This chapter deals with the notion of head inside compounds. We will first focus on the unproblematic cases which have led researchers to determine that compounds contain a head (Section 1). Then we will analyse more problematic cases, showing that some of the properties of heads (such as their position inside the word) are not completely understood (Section 2). Problematic cases of exocentricity or multiple headedness inside compounds will be considered in Section 3, while Section 4 briefly explores the possibility that compounds contain more than one head. The main conclusion of this paper is that there are empirical grounds to propose the existence of heads inside compounds, but the determination of their properties and the identification of the units that play this role for a given feature require detailed language-particular and typological research yet to be done, although some generalizations can already be made.


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