This paper aims at giving an up-to-date picture of compounding in Italian on the basis of most recent literature. First and foremost, we illustrate the basic units of Italian compounds, including semiwords, and we offer an operational definition of compounding that will be adopted throughout the paper. Secondly, we focus on the crucial issue of the demarcation of compounds: several criteria are given to distinguish compounds from derived words, phrases and also phrasal lexemes. Third, we offer a classification of Italian compounds according to two hierarchically ordered criteria – the grammatical relation between the constituents and the presence/absence of the head – and then we illustrate the main formation patterns that give rise to such compounds. Finally, we discuss crucial theoretical issues such as headedness and the relationship between compounding and inflection.
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