Compounding in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis
Nguyen Ngoc Thao
HCMC University of Education
According to Wikipedia, a compound is a lexeme (less precisely, a word) that consists of more than one stem. Compounding is the word formation that creates compound lexemes (the other word-formation process being derivation). It refers to the faculty and device of language to form new words by combining or putting together old words. In other words, compounding occurs when a person attaches two or more words together to make them one word. The meanings of the words interrelate in such a way that a new meaning comes out which is very different from the meanings of the words in isolation. In linguistics studies, this is one of the most interesting features of language, especially in Vietnamese. The phonology of compounding may be seen to form a bridge between the lexical phonology of the word and the post-lexical phonology of the phrase. (Nguyen & Ingram, 2006). This paper aims at exploring compounding in English and Vietnamese in a contrastive view. Then, some suggested implications for future language teaching are discussed. I hope that the information included in this paper will help to have a deeper look in the two language systems in compounding.
Compounding in English
In English, compounds are classified in terms of semantics and word class. Firstly, in semantics, a common classification of compounds yields four types: endocentric, exocentric, copulative and appositional compounds. Endocentric compounds (or headed compounds) consist of a head, i.e. the categorical part that contains the basic meaning of the whole compound, and modifiers, which restrict this meaning. For example, in the English compound doghouse (a house intended for a dog), house is the head and dog is the modifier. Exocentric compounds, on the contrary, do not have a head and their meaning often cannot be transparently guessed from its constituent parts. For example, the English compound white-collar is neither a kind of collar nor a white thing. A white-collar person is neither white nor a collar (the collar's color is a metaphor for socioeconomic status). Copulative compounds are compounds which have two semantic heads while appositional compounds refer to lexemes that have two attributes which classify the compound. |Type |Description |Examples | |Endocentric |A+B denotes a special kind of B |darkroom, smalltalk | |Exocentric |A+B denotes a special kind of an unexpressed semantic head |skinhead, paleface | |Copulative |A+B denotes 'the sum' of what A and B denote |bittersweet, sleepwalk | |Appositional |A and B provide different descriptions for the same referent |actor-director, maidservant |
Secondly, in word class, there are three types of compounds: compound nouns, compound verbs and compound adjectives. A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more words. Most compound nouns in English are formed by nouns modified by other nouns or adjectives (Leo network). For example, compound nouns toothpaste or blackboard are formed by joining noun tooth and adjective black with noun paste and noun board. In both these examples, the first word modifies or describes the second word, telling us what kind of object it is or what its purpose is while the second part identifies the object (learnenglish.de). Compound nouns can also be formed by using the following combinations of words: |Patterns |Examples | |Noun + Noun |toothpaste...