Note: This is the paperback edition of a previously announced book.
This book presents new work on the psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics
of compound words. It shows the insights this work offers on natural
language processing and the relation between language, mind, and memory.
Compounding is an easy and effective way to create and transfer meanings.
By building new lexical items based on the meanings of existing items,
compounds can usually be understood on first presentation, though - as,
say, breadboard, cardboard, cupboard, and sandwich-board show - the rules
governing the relations between the components' meanings are not always
Compound words are segmentable into their constituent morphemes in much the
same way as sentences can be divided into their constituent words: children
and adults would not otherwise find them interpretable. But compound
sequences may also be independent lexical items that can be retrieved for
production as single entities and whose idiosyncratic
meanings are stored in the mind. Compound words reflect the properties both
of linguistic representation in the mind and of grammatical processing.
They thus offer opportunities for investigating key aspects of the mental
operations involved in language: for example, the interplay between storage
and computation; the manner in which morphological and semantic factors
impact on the nature of storage; and the way the
mind's computational processes serve on-line language comprehension and
production. This book explores the nature of these opportunities, assesses
what is known, and considers what may yet be discovered and how.