The compound-phrase divide and the lexicon: Insights from non-lexicalized adjective-noun combinations in German
Marcel Schlechtweg
July 2019

Compounds and phrases have been extensively contrasted on formal and functional grounds in the literature. Much less is known, however, about the cognitive differences between the two. The present article uses this observation as a point of departure and investigates whether non-lexicalized German adjective-noun compounds and phrases differ in how well they are memorized. Crucially, the contribution goes beyond previous research on this issue by (a) concentrating on the auditory presentation of compounds and phrases within a single language that uses both types as a naming device, (b) considering the role of prosodic prominence in the compound-phrase divide in German, and (c) looking at non-lexicalized constructions either without or with an explicitly given invented meaning. Two experiments are reported, in which subjects were asked to memorize auditorily presented compounds and phrases and participated in a response-time and response-accuracy experiment. While the constructions were not associated with a specific and explicitly given meaning in Experiment 1, they were in Experiment 2. The data show that compounds are memorized more efficiently than phrases, both without and with an explicitly given meaning, and independently from their prosodic prominence pattern. It is argued that the effect derives from their formal and functional characteristics.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004825
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Lingua
keywords: compound, phrase, prosodic prominence, memorization, mental lexicon, german, morphology
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