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Making Sense of Grammar
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What are the features of compound words in Mandarin?

asked Jan 2, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (23,690 points)

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A compound word is often composed of two or three morphemes. According to L¨u (1984), 61% of the 3,000 most commonly used Chinese words are disyllabic. Morphemes in compound words can be separated into two categories: free morpheme (represented by Root beginning with a capital R) and bound morpheme (represented by root beginning with a small letter r). A free morpheme or unbound morpheme is one that can stand alone or can appear with other morphemes; a bound morpheme is a morpheme (the most basic unit of meaning) that can appear only as part of a larger word.

Here are several examples of compound words composed of Root and root:

root–root type:

蘑菇(m´og¯u mushroom-mushroom “mushroom”)

討論(t˘ao-l`un discuss-discuss “to discuss”)

Root–Root type:

馬路(m˘a-l`u horse-road “road”)

借用(ji`e-y`ong borrow-use “to borrow”)

root–Root type:

觸角(ch`u-ji˘ao touch-horn “(insect) antenna”)

購買(g`ou-m˘ai buy-buy “to buy”)

Root–root type:

賭博(dˇu-j`u gamble-utensil “gambling equipment”)

幫助(b¯ang-zh`u help-assist “help”)

Reference: Chinese: a linguistic introduction by Chao Fen Sun

answered Jan 2, 2018 by admin (23,690 points)
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