Article published in:Semantics and Psychology of Complex Words
Edited by Christina L. Gagné and Thomas L. Spalding
[The Mental Lexicon 15:1] 2020
► pp. 123–141
Property inference from heads to opaque-transparent compounds
We investigate how people extend properties from head nouns to compound words. Two conflicting principles seem to be important. Concepts license inference of properties: Knowing that birds fly allows an inference that songbirds fly. On the other hand, a subcategory term like songbirds is created only when that subcategory contrasts with the general category of birds. Participants rate the extent to which properties true of all, some, or no members of the head noun category are true of a subcategory denoted by an Opaque-Transparent compound. Both categorical inference and contrast affect these judgments: Properties true of the head are less true of the compound though still generally true, while those false of the head are more true of the compound, though still generally false. We discuss how modification effects with Opaque-Transparent compounds compare to both Transparent-Transparent compounds and novel combinations.
Keywords: compound words, semantic transparency, modification effect, property verification, concepts
Published online: 30 October 2020
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