Article published in:25th Lexis and Grammar Conference
Edited by Ignazio Mauro Mirto
[Lingvisticæ Investigationes 31:2] 2008
► pp. 143–157
Co-text of use of forty English nominal premodifiers
Singular and plural variants
This paper examines the co-text of use of the singular and plural variants of 40 nouns used as modifiers in compounds with two lexical bases on the basis of over 6,000 compounds collected from a general corpus of English. The data shows that, for the lexemes considered, plural premodification contributes significantly to compound formation, although singular premodification is favoured, and that both groups of compounds occur in similar lexical, semantic and syntactic environments (e.g. the same types of semantic categories are represented in the heads of both groups; the same combinations of typographic, semantic and syntactic features signal the presence of micro semantic-syntactic units within larger nominal units). However, it appears that features marking the distinctiveness of the non-head material in the compounds occur more frequently, especially in combinations, when plural premodification is instantiated. This suggests that plural premodification may be favoured by the co-presence of multiple co-textual conditions, but also that the occurrence of unithood features — which mark the distinctiveness of the non-head material or of the larger phrases containing the compounds — may also be favoured by specific lexemes.
Published online: 15 December 2008