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Word-composition (compounding)

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Post by anya on Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:15 pm

Word-composition (compounding)
Compounding or word-composition is one of the productive means of word-formation in Modern English. Compounds are words that are made up of two immediate constituents which are both derivative bases.
Derivative bases in compounds can have different degrees of complexity:
1. both bases are simple (weekend, girlfriend).
2. one base is simple, the other is derivative (a shoemaker).
3. one base is compound and the other is either simple or derivative (fancy-dress -> fancydress-ball, маскарад; fancydress-maker).

Classification of compounds.
1) According to the type of word-formation:
a. compounds proper – are words made up of two derivative bases (red-current, girlfriend)
b. derivational compounds – are words formed by affixation or conversion from a compound derivational base (blue-eyed, a breakdown)
c. pseudo-compounds - The constituent members of compound words of this subgroup are in most cases unique, carry very vague or no lexical meaning of their own, are not found as stems of independently
functioning words. They are motivated mainly through the rhythmic doubling of fanciful sound-clusters. (loudmouth).
2) Semantic
a. subordinate (подчинительные) – words where one of the derivative bases is the grammatical and semantical center of the word, as a rule – the 2 one – a head member. It expresses the general meaning of the word, and the first one specifies it (girlfriend)
b. coordinate (сочинительные) – words where both components are equally important:
- reduplicated – formed by repeating the base (fifty-fifty)
- rhyming (walkie-talkie, willy-nilly)
- additive – denote an object or a person that is two things at a time (Anglo-Saxon, an actor- manager)

Meaning in compounds.
The lexical meaning of compounds is determined by the lexical meanings of its bases and the structural meaning of its distributional pattern.
The distributional pattern shows the order and arrangement of the bases. Two compounds that have the same bases but different distributional patterns will have different meanings (a finger-ring, a ring-finger). As a rule a second base determines the part of speech meaning of the compound.
The lexical meaning of a compound doesn't coincide with the combined meanings of its bases. There is always some additional semantic element that reflects among objects and phenomena in the outer world. Semantic relations between the compounds can be described as certain types:
- spacial (пространственный) – a garden-party, a finger-ring, a nose-ring
- functional – a key-hole, a dollhouse / a babysitter, a bodyguard
- resemblance (сходство) - snow-white
- producing a similar effect or acting in a typical way – a rattle-snake (гремучая змея)
If the meaning of the compound and the semantic relations between the bases are clear then the compound is motivated (red-current – красная смородина).
If the meaning of the compound and the semantic relations between the bases are not clear then the compound is non-motivated (redneck – рабочий).

Criteria of distinguishing between compounds and free-word combinations.
Compounds are inseparable lexical units that are presented in dictionaries in special entries and sub-entries. Compounds are reproduced and used in speech as lexical units, they are not formed in speech like free-word combinations. They are only pronounced as lexical units (a red rose, a redskin).
Inseparability of compounds has graphical (one word or a hyphen), phonetic (stress), morphological (only 2 base shows grammatical category) and semantic (grammatical formes differ from the forms of the motivating words (richer – more oil-richer) criteria.

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