Modelling semantic transparency

Bell, Melanie J. and Schäfer, Martin (2016) Modelling semantic transparency. Morphology, 26 (2). pp. 157-199. ISSN 1871-5656

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We present models of semantic transparency in which the perceived trans- parency of English noun–noun compounds, and of their constituent words, is pre- dicted on the basis of the expectedness of their semantic structure. We show that such compounds are perceived as more transparent when the first noun is more frequent, hence more expected, in the language generally; when the compound semantic rela- tion is more frequent, hence more expected, in association with the first noun; and when the second noun is more productive, hence more expected, as the second ele- ment of a noun–noun compound. Taken together, our models of compound and con- stituent transparency lead us to two conclusions. Firstly, although compound trans- parency is a function of the transparencies of the constituents, the two constituents differ in the nature of their contribution. Secondly, since all the significant predictors in our models of compound transparency are also known predictors of processing speed, perceived transparency may itself be a reflex of ease of processing.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Semantic transparency, Compound noun, Compound processing, Semantic relation, Semantic shift, English
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2018 14:40
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 19:00

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