The Construction Morphology Analysis of Chinese Word Formation

Chapter
Part of the Studies in Morphology book series (SUMO, volume 4)

Abstract

The lexicon of Modern Chinese is characterised by a preponderance of multimorphemic words, which are typically built from lexical morphemes, either bound or free. Compounding, broadly understood as the combination of two or more lexical morphemes, is by far the most common word formation device in the modern language. While drawing a sharp boundary between compounding and derivation for Chinese has proven difficult, there are indeed a number of items which possess derivation-like features, including bound status, fixed position, and a stable, often bleached meaning. Moreover, bound items, sometimes without morphemic status, may acquire the meaning of a word as part of a construction, and generate new words and constructions with that acquired meaning. In this chapter, we will apply the principles of CxM to the analysis of Chinese complex words, showing how a constructional approach may best explain several phenomena which are characteristic of Chinese word formation, including the genesis of new meanings for lexical morphemes as part of word formation schemas, rather than in isolation. Also, we will show that the parameter of headedness in compounding may not be set for the language as a whole, but is rather specified in schemas.

Keywords

Affixoids Chinese Compounding Derivation Subschemas 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la FormazioneUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Studi sull’Asia e sull’Africa MediterraneaCa’ Foscari University of VeniceVeniceItaly

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