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ERIC Number: EJ1072178
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 37
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1578-7044
"Abrelatas" and "Scarecrow" Nouns: Exocentric Verb-Noun Compounds as Illustrations of Basic Principles of Cognitive Grammar
Tuggy, David
International Journal of English Studies, v3 n2 p25-61 2003
Spanish and English have exocentric verb+object = subject/instrument compounds, such as "abrelatas" (opens-cans) "can-opener" and "scarecrow." They share a general constructional pattern, consist of "clumps" or subfamilies of forms, and have a negative or jocular tendency. They differ in their individual compounds, subfamilies and constructional prototypes. The Spanish construction is a widely productive, major mechanism for naming instruments; the English construction names subjects, and is a minor pattern currently productive only in one subfamily. Exceptional forms in both languages approach each other's prototype. In both languages the category fits into wider families or categories of constructions, but those wider families are different. These patterns illuminate basic tenets of Cognitive grammar, including: (1) usage-based grammar. (2) Multiple patterns. (3) Lower-level outranking higher-level patterns. (4) Functional motivation, but (5) persistence of patterns despite absence of functionality. These considerations underline (6) the insufficiency of models positing innate, absolute, few and simple rules.
University of Murcia. Department of English Philology Merced Campus, Calle Santo Cristo 1, Murcia 30071 Spain. Tel: +34-868-88-3406; Fax: +34-868-88-3409; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A