A Cognitive corpus-based study of exocentric compounds in English

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Exocentric compounding is a creative morphological process that contributes to the English lexicon. However, because it lacks a syntactic or semantic head, it was deemed an exceptional case in most word-formation literature and hence neglected. Previous work has only been limited to syntax-based grammar and the notion of headedness and thus failed to address the other linguistic rules that constrain exocentric compounds. The current paper aims to identify the frequency of exocentric compounds and thus to determine their viability. The research will also look into how conceptual metaphor and/or conceptual metonymy motivate exocentric compound formation. The results demonstrate that exocentric compounds are viable lexical units, generating content words (e.g., adjectives and adverbs) through productive word-formation processes, and extending word senses. The results also suggest that conceptual metonymy is more active than conceptual metaphor in the formation of exocentric compounds. The present findings have several implications for research on exocentric compounds, conceptual metonymy and conceptual metaphor.
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