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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers two points about compounds in English in detail. The first is the definition. It is argued that there is no reliable definition of a compound in English. This is partly because of problems with the definition of a word, where criteria for wordhood break down precisely in the area of compounding. The second major point about compounds is their meaning. Various construction types with apparently different meanings are termed ‘compounds’ (endocentric compound, exocentric compounds, coordinative compounds) but it is not always easy to fit individual examples into these construction types. The range of compound types in English is also canvassed, and the problem of the borderline between compounds and other constructions is a recurrent theme. Questions of headedness and binarity are treated in less depth, as are theoretical treatments of compounds.

Keywords: compound, word, endocentric, exocentric, head, binarity, coordinative

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