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Volume 56, Issue 1


The word status of Chinese adjective-noun combinations

Zheng Xu
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Minhang District, Shanghai, 200240, P. R. China
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Published Online: 2017-12-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2017-0035


The status of Chinese adjective-noun combinations ([A N]) has been debated for decades. This paper argues that Chinese [A N] are word-level expressions constructed in an autonomous word formation component of the grammar. I propose a monomorphemic constraint on the adjective of [A N]. Together with evidence from the tests of modification by degree adverbs, conjunction reduction, and XP substitution, this constraint supports the wordhood of Chinese [A N]. Additional evidence is that Chinese [A N] have a potential naming function and are subject to selectional restrictions. Neither anaphoric accessibility nor the restrictions on the ordering of adjectives are reliable criteria for establishing the status of Chinese [A N]. The various properties of Chinese [A N] are accounted for under the framework of Construction Morphology (Booij, Geert. 2010. Construction Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.).

Keywords: Chinese; compounds; constructions; word formation; Construction Morphology


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Published Online: 2017-12-23

Published in Print: 2018-01-26

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 56, Issue 1, Pages 207–256, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2017-0035.

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