Article

Why are Compounds a Part of Human Language? A View from Asymmetry Theory

Anna Maria Di Sciullo

in The Oxford Handbook of Compounding

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695720
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199695720.013.0008

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Why are Compounds a Part of Human Language? A View from Asymmetry Theory

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This chapter raises the following theoretical questions: why are compounds a part of human language? How do their properties follow from the human computational system (CHL)? How do they satisfy the interface legibility conditions? These questions are addressed from the viewpoint of Asymmetry Theory. It is argued that compounds are a part of human language because they are derived by the operations of CHL, while they satisfy the interface interpretability condition in ways which phrases and sentences do not. The chapter is organized as follows. First, it discusses the asymmetries observed in the domain of English compounds and relates them to the ones observed in the domain of affixed forms. Second, the chapter shows how compounds are derived in Asymmetry Theory. Finally, it considers how they satisfy the Interface Interpretability Condition and bring to the fore recent experimental results on compound processing.

Keywords: English compounds; human computational system; affixed forms; Asymmetry Theory; Interface Interpretability Condition; compound processing

Article.  11103 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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