Relational competition during compound interpretation
The meaning of an endocentric compound (e.g. <i>snowball</i>) is derived not just from its constituents (<i>snow</i> and <i>ball</i>) but also from the relation between them (e.g. noun MADE OF modifier). We propose that, during the interpretation of an endocentric compound, various relational structures compete for selection, and that the fewer competitors the required relation has, the less time it takes the system to settle on that relation. We present results from three streams of empirical research. The first stream indicates that the availability of relational structures influences ease of processing. The second indicates that relations inhibit each other. The third indicates that relation availability is specific to a constituent’s use in a particular morphosyntactic role. We conclude by presenting a theoretical framework of compound interpretation.