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Making Sense of Grammar
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What is the default position of the head of a nominal in a disyllabic compound?

asked Jan 2, 2018 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by admin (23,690 points)
edited Apr 25, 2018 by admin

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According to Packard, nearly 90% of compound nouns have a nominal formant on the right. The right-hand rule suggests that the default position of the head of a nominal is on the right-hand side of a disyllabic compound. This principle also illustrates the modifying nature of the morpheme on the left.

For example, in the compound words ni´u-n˘ai (牛奶/ cow milk) and y´ang-n˘ai (羊奶/ sheep milk), the morphemes on the right reveal the property of nouns, and the ones on the left indicate the producer of the milk.

Reference: Chinese: a linguistic introduction by Chao Fen Sun

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