The lexicalization of complex constructions: an analysis of adjective-noun combinations

Marcel Schlechtweg, Holden Härtl


The current paper discusses the lexicalization of complex constructions composed of an adjective and a noun. It is argued that compounds/compound-like constructions are more prone to become lexicalized than phrases/phrase-like constructions. The relationship between lexicalization and the cognitive process of memorization represents a key point of our analysis. We report evidence from psycholinguistic studies contrasting compounds/compound-like constructions to phrases/phrase-like constructions either within a single language or across different languages. The results suggest that the former type of constructions show a memorization advantage in comparison to the latter type. These findings support the idea that the two construction types fundamentally differ with regard to their lexicalization.


lexicalization; memorization; adjective-noun combinations

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