Volume 12, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
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The noun head is commonly found in the second position of many English noun compounds. Typically, noun compounds with head in the right are endocentric formations, that is, composite forms which designate a more specific type of the concept denoted by head (e.g. pinhead). The noun head is also found in a significant number of so called ‘exocentric’ formations with a variety of interconnected meanings (e.g. airhead, acidhead, Potterhead). The different exocentric patterns where head participates raise questions about the grammatical status of this element, which is sometimes analysed as a suffixal element, illustrating the fuzzy boundaries between derivation and compounding. In the linguistic literature there is an extensive debate as to whether processes like this one are to be regarded as cases of grammaticalization or lexicalisation. In this paper it will be proposed that exocentric formations in -head are suitable for an analysis using a schema-based approach in Ryder’s (1994) fashion, or a constructional approach (Booij, 2010a) insofar as new creations arise by analogy with the patterns that can be extracted from existing cases. The different patterns of exocentric formations with head can be conveniently characterized by postulating a hierarchical lexicon with schemas or constructions of different degree of abstraction.


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