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Nominal compounds

Nominal compounds are the result of an act of compounding that results in a noun. Compounding is taken here in a wide interpretation which also includes cases of univerbation. Univerbation can be observed in the patterns AN, NumN, NV and NNum.

Most patterns have a noun as second member. It often functions as head, thereby determining the semantics and the gender of the whole combination. These are endocentric compounds, the first member acting as modifier. The modifiers may consist of a variety of lexical categories: they can be a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, adposition, pronoun, numeral and interjection. Even names and phrases occur as modifiers. A special type of endocentric NN compounds is made up of genitive compounds, which have a modifier with a specific reading.

Only a minority of the patterns has no noun as right-hand member. NV and NNum have a noun at the left side. In the combinations of a verb plus an adposition (VP) or phrase (VPhrase) a noun is even lacking at all. The status of a real compound is questionable in these cases, univerbation sometimes qualifies as an alternative. It will not come as a surprise that exocentric interpretations predominate here. Such a reading is not restricted to these deviating structures, however: we also encounter exocentricity with the patterns NN, VN, AN and NameN.


The treatment of nominal compounds is organized according to the constituting categories and their order. More details can therefore be found via the following links:

  • NN (noun + noun)
  • VN (verb + noun)
  • AN (adjective + noun)
  • AdvN (adverb + noun)
  • PN (adposition + noun)
  • PronN (pronoun + noun)
  • NumN (numeral + noun)
  • InterjN (interjection + noun)
  • NameN (name + noun)
  • PhraseN (phrase + noun)
  • NV (noun + verb)
  • NNum (noun + numeral)
  • VP (verb + adposition)
  • VPhrase (verb + phrase)

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