Trinity College Dublin, Department of Computer Science
Keane, Mark T.; Costello, Fintan. ''Where do "Soccer Moms" Come From? : Cognitive Constraints on Noun-Noun Compounding in English'. - Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Computer Science, TCD-CS-96-18, 1996, pp5
Computer Science Technical Report TCD-CS-96-18
Every year new noun-noun combinations enter the
English language and become common parlance;
compounds like "notebook computer" and "soccer mom".
But, why is one pair of words chosen rather than another
pair ? For example,why do we not use "patio-tile
computer" and "sports mother" ? Clearly, many factors
influence the process. We concentrate on the cognitive
factor of informativeness; namely, that a novel
combination should convey its meaning unambiguously.
Costello & Keane (1996) have shown that some classes of
concept promote ambiguity (or polysemy) in novel nounnoun
compounds; artifact and superordinate terms
promote polysemy whereas natural-kind and basic-level
terms do not. Here we show that the topology of these
conceptual classes in a large corpus of familiar
compounds indicates that they constrain the compounds
that appear in a language.
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