An Analysis of Persian‌ Compound Nouns as Constructions

Document Type: Research Paper


hazrat-e Ma'soumeh University


In Construction Morphology (CM), a compound is treated as a construction at the word level with a systematic correlation between its form and meaning, in the sense that any change in the form is accompanied by a change in the meaning. Compound words are coined by compounding templates which are called abstract schemas in CM. These abstract constructional schemas generalize over sets of existing compound words and specify how new compound words can be created. The schemas dominate the compounds so that they inherit all predictable morphological and semantic properties from these schemas. Also, CM adopts a paradigmatic approach to word formation, that is, the creation of new compound words is caused by the extension of a systematic form-meaning relationship in a set of existing compound words to new cases resulting in new compounds. Regarding these properties of CM, This paper studies Persian compound nouns in the framework of Construction Morphology. From this perspective, two types of compound nouns including endocentric and exocentric ones are treated in a rather similar way because the compound noun construction as a holistic schema plays the main role in specifying the syntactic features and semantic content of compound nouns, not their individual constituents. According to findings of this study, the analysis of Persian compound nouns based on CM increases the degree of generality in compound noun formation and develops the concept of holisticity in the form and meaning of compound nouns as well as it highlights the paradigmatic relationship in Persian compound noun formation templates.


Anderson, S. R. (1992). A-morphus Morphology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Arcodia, G. F. (2012). Constructions and Headedness in Derivation and Compounding. Morphology, 22, 365–397.

Aronoff, M. (1994). Morphology by itself: Stems and inflectional classes. Cambridge, Massachusetts, the MIT Press.

Aronoff, M., & Kirsten, F. (2005). What is morphology? USA. Blackwell Publishing.

Booij, G. (2005). The Grammar of words. Oxford University Press.

Booij, G. (2007). Construction morphology and the lexicon. In F. Montermini, G. Boy, N. Hathout (Eds.). Selected proceedings of the 5th Decembrettes. Morphology in Toulouse (pp. 34-44). Somerville MA.: Cascadilla Press.

Booij, G. (2009). Construction morphology and compounding. In R. Lieber & P. Stekauer, The Oxford Handbook of Compounding (pp. 201-216). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Booij, G. (2010a). Construction morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Booij, G. (2010b). Compound construction: Schemas or analogy? In S. Scalise & I. Vogel (Eds.), Cross disciplinary issues in compounding (pp. 93-108). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Booij, G. (2012). Word Formation in Construction Grammar. To appear in Peter O. Muller, I. Ohnheiser, S. Olsen & F. Rainer (Eds.) Word Formation: An International handbook of the Languages of Europe. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Goldberg, Adel E. (2003). Constructions: A New Theoretical Approach to Language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 5, May 2003.

Jackendoff , R. (2002). Foundations of Language. Oxford University Press.

Johnston, M., & Federica, B. (1996). Qualia Structure and the Compositional Interpretation of Compounds. Proceedings of the ACL SIGLEX Workshop on Breadth and Depth of Semantic Lexicons, 77-88. Kluwer: Dordrech.

Lakoff, G. (1987).Women, fire and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago, CSLI.

Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar: Theoretical prerequisites. (Vol 1). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Langacker, R. W. (2000). A Dynamic usage-based model. In M. Barlow & S. Kemmer (Eds.). Usage-based models of language  (pp.1-63). Stanford: CSLI.

Langacker, R. W. (2005). Construction grammars: Cognitive, radical, and less so. In F. J. Ruiz de Mendoza Ibáñez & M. Sandra Peña Cervel (Eds.), Cognitive linguistics: Internal dynamics and interdisciplinary interaction (pp. 101-159). Berlin/NewYork: Mouton de Gruyter.

Lieber, R. (1981). On the organization of the lexicon. Bloomington, in Indiana University Linguistics Club.

 Lieber, R. (1983). Argument linking and compounds in English. Linguistic Inquiry, 14, 251-285.

Lieber, R. (1989). On percolation. In G. Booij & J. van Marle (Eds.), Yearbook of morphology  (pp.95–138). Dordrecht: Foris.

Paul, H. (1880). [3rd ed. 1898]. Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte. Halle: Max  Niemeyer.

Sadeqi, A. A. (1370-1372). Word formation processes in contemporary Persian language. Nashr-i Dānish Journal, Iran University Press.

Schultnik, H. (1962). De Morphologische valentie van het ongelede adjectief in modernNethrlands. Den Haag: Van Goor Zonen.

Spencer, A. (1991). Morphological theory: An introduction to word structure in generative grammar. Oxford UK & Cambridge USA, Blackwell Publishers LTD.

Tabatabaei, A. (1382). Compound noun and adjective in Persian language. Tehran, Iran  University  Press.

Tabatabaei, A. (1376). Persian simple verb and word formation. Tehran, Iran University Press.

Van Marl, J. (1985). On the paradigmatic dimension of morphological creativity. Dordrecht: Foris.

Yule, G. (2010). The Study of language (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Zwicky, A. M. (1985). Heads. Journal of Linguistics, 21, 1–29.