Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375



We explore variation in the interpretation of attested novel compound nouns in English, especially the contribution of constituent polysemy to this diversity. Our results show that effects of polysemy are pervasive in compound interpretation, contributing both to interpretational diversity and to perceived difficulty of interpretation. The higher the uncertainty about the concept represented by the head noun, based on existing compounds with that head, the greater the diversity of interpretations across speakers and the more difficult, on average, they find it to come up with a meaning.

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