Lise Menn lise.menn at Colorado.EDU
Sun Mar 20 23:38:21 UTC 2011

Gary Libben and his group have done a great deal of psycholinguistic  
work on what people consciously and unconsciously know about  
compounds; it's not necessary to rely on anecdote and introspection.   
Check out the journal The Mental Lexicon. Obviously no one has all the  
answers, but linguists shouldn't ignore the very good science that has  
been done in this area.

On Mar 20, 2011, at 5:31 PM, Tom Givon wrote:

> Maybe it would be useful to add that among all the pieces of quaint  
> exemplars lie some general principles that have to do with both the  
> semantic & phonological changes that affect compound expressions.  
> Once the two parts co-vary in all (or most) contexts, and once the  
> meaning of the compound drifts away from the original composite  
> meaning of the two parts, there is a growing semantic incentive to  
> cease interpreting it as a composite, given that the predictability  
> of the compound meaning from its parts gets lower & lower over time.  
> In parallel, once two phonological sequences becomes fused as a  
> single word, assimilation & reduction make the similarity to the two  
> original parts less & less obvious. This is a typical "iconic  
> conspiracy" in compounding & co-lexicalization. Ther rest is, as  
> usual, history.  TG
> ====================
> On 3/20/2011 4:53 PM, dharv at wrote:
>> I can attest that even in the aircraft industry plenty of people  
>> don't realize that helicopter means helical or twisting wing.
>> At 3:45 PM -0600 20/3/11, Sherman Wilcox wrote:
>>> On 20 Mar 2011, at 15:26, Pamela Munro wrote:
>>>> The first time the observation about the analyzability of / 
>>>> rooster/ was made here, I thought, sure, I know the ending -/ 
>>>> ster/, but what is /roo/?
>>> I routinely ask my students to analyze helicopter. No one can.  
>>> Everyone thinks the word has an -/er/ suffix. Some of them come up  
>>> with /heli-/ having to do with the sun, but then they can't figure  
>>> out what the sun has to do with helicopters, or what -/copt/-  
>>> might mean. Something that chops the sun's rays?
>>> -- 
>>> Sherman Wilcox, Professor
>>> Department of Linguistics
>>> University of New Mexico
>>> Albuquerque, NM 871131

Lise Menn                      Home Office: 303-444-4274
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Professor Emerita of Linguistics
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University of  Colorado

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