Verb-noun compounds in English and German

Volker Gast


This paper provides a comparative analysis of verb-noun compounds and their distribution in English and German. It is shown that two major generalizations are pos-sible along the endocentric/exocentric dimension: While the types of endocentric V-N compounds found in English form a subset of the relevant types found in German, exo-centric V-N compounds constitute a substantial lexical class in English but not in German. The distribution of the two major types of V-N compounds is considered against the background of competing expressions such as V-ing N compounds (in English) and synthetic compounds of the type N-V-er (in both languages under comparison). The differences in the inventories of types are related to aspects of external language history (language contact), but the role of language-internal factors is also considered, in par-ticular the greater disposition of English to allow conversion.

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