Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Inflectional affixes only adhere to the head of Noun-Noun (NN) compounds which implies that the plural of (‘crib house’) or (‘werewolf’) is (‘crib houses’) and (‘werewolves’) respectively, while and ‒ with the plural inflectional affix on the modifier ‒ are ungrammatical. There seems to be more flexibility when it comes to derivational affixes since, in principle, the evaluative diminutive affix - appears to have scope over the whole compound, regardless of whether it is attached to the head or the modifier:  /  and  / . This would imply that the operation that results in the expression of plurality of the whole word via the inflectional affix - located on the semantic argument (the head of the compound), is more categorical than the one that regulates the scope of derivational morphemes (contra Zwicky, 1985). It would also imply that Cinque’s (2005) proposal according to which modifiers can c-command Nouns may be more in line with the behaviour of derivational affixes in Spanish NN compounds. Since this is a topic that has neither been discussed by Spanish grammarians nor received attention in the psycholinguistic literature, we have administered a Picture Selection Task with NN compounds exhibiting evaluative diminutive affixes to groups of L1 Spanish and L1 English-L2 Spanish speakers. Results show that for L1 Spanish speakers it is the affix on the head that has scope over the whole compound (in line with Zwicky’s 1985 proposal) while the L2 Spanish speakers treat derivational affixes as only having scope over the element to which they are attached.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): evaluative affixes; headedness; noun-noun compounds
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