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Factors influencing the interpretation of noun-noun compounds

Maguire, Phil, Maguire, Rebecca and Cater, Arthur W. S. (2008) Factors influencing the interpretation of noun-noun compounds. In: Proceedings of the Thirtieth Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 167-172.

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The Competition Among Relation in Nominals theory (Gagné & Shoben, 1997) asserts that the relation frequency of the modifying noun is the primary determinant of ease of interpretation for noun-noun compounds. It also assumes that the influence of this variable is independent of the head noun. However, we suggest that both constituents exert an influence and that this influence depends on the pairing of nouns as well as the context. We present an experiment that investigates if the influence of the modifier’s relation frequency is fixed or whether it is affected by the head noun. Our results reveal that modifier relation frequency per se is not an accurate predictor of ease of interpretation: low modifier relation frequency combinations were easily interpreted in cases where the
modifier’s general bias was overruled by the semantics of the head noun. As a result, we suggest that models predicting ease of interpretation must take into account the interaction of both constituents. The implications for models of conceptual combination are discussed.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology > Meaning (Psychology) > Semantics
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 14 May 2014 14:07
Last Modified: 14 May 2014 14:08

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