A Syntactic Analysis of Compounds

(With Katya Pertsova)

I have been looking at the morphosyntactic properties of compounds for some time, using the phrasal properties of several compound structures as evidence for a syntactic analysis of their derivation. In my analysis of deverbal synthetic Greek compounds, I argue for a syntactic approach showing that using notions, like the ‘split-DP’ hypothesis, defended in Sportiche (1999, 2005) and the “phases-within-words” hypothesis in Marantz (2001, 2006) can shed new light on why so-called “lexical integrity effects” appear in synthetic compounds. I attribute the differences in the distribution and prosodic properties of various compound forms, including synthetic and phrasal compounds, to the properties of the lower verbal domain and the variable positional and selectional properties of nominalizing affixes. The merger of nominalizing affixes, at least in languages of the Greek and English type, is essential for the successful derivation of such compounds.

In later work with Katya Pertsova, we look at the derivation of two types of attributive nominal compounds in Spanish, Russian and Greek. These include right-headed “root” compounds, which exhibit more “word”-like properties and single stress domains, and left-headed “semi-phrasal” compounds with more phrasal properties and independent stress domains for the two compound members. We propose that both compound structures are formed on a small clause predicate phrase, with their different properties derived from the merger of the predicate member of the small clause as a root or as a larger nominal unit with additional functional projections.
The proposed structures provide an explanation of observed lexical integrity effects, as well as specific predictions of patterns of compound formation crosslinguistically.



Ntelitheos, Dimitrios. (Forthcoming). A syntactic analysis of synthetic and phrasal compound formation in Greek. Issues in Mediterranean Syntax, Brill.


Ntelitheos, Dimitrios and Katya Pertsova. (2019). Root- and Semiphrasal Compounds: A Syntactic Approach. In P. Farrell (ed.) Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America, vol. 4. 30:1-14. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v4i1.4530.


Ntelitheos, Dimitrios. (2012). Malagasy Phrasal Compounds: A Syntactic Account. In Thomas Graf, Denis Paperno, Anna Szabolcsi, and Jos Tellings (eds.), Theories of Everything: In Honor of Ed Keenan. UCLA Working Papers in Linguistics 17:290-305.