Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Sandra Stjepanovic

Committee Co-Chair

Maria J Amores-Aguera

Committee Member

Jonah I Katz

Committee Member

Sandra Stjepanovic


Noun-Noun compounds (NN) are a concatenation of two nouns that function as a single unit both morphosyntactically and semantically. One of the main challenges that a study of NN compounding faces is their semantics, and more precisely, identifying the implied semantic relations that hold between the two elements. One of the most recent frameworks that has been proposed to account for the semantic relations between the modifier and head in NN compounds is Jackendoff's (2009, 2016) basic functions model within the Parallel Architecture framework. In this model, a semantic relation between the head and modifier is established by using an external function F (X, Y), which given two nouns N1 and N2 meaning X1 and Y2 respectively, yields the meaning of the compound.;Given that Spanish NN compounds are unproductive as opposed to languages like English, the aim is to demonstrate whether the model can be applied to Spanish, and if so, to identify the basic functions that hold in Spanish NNs organizing them in a hierarchy based on their frequency. Exploring these questions does not only have a potential to shed light on questions regarding the cross-linguistic applicability of Jackendoff's system, but can also allow us to determine whether the unproductivity of NN compounds in Spanish correlates with their semantic inflexibility. The study also provides a comparison of the semantic relations present in Spanish NN compounds to those attested in Spanish N de N constructions (i.e. buque de guerra 'ship of war' = war ship). Since the latter constructions are very productive in the language, if semantic flexibility correlates with compounding productivity, they are expected to exhibit a wider range of semantic relations as opposed to NNs. Moreover, if it turns out that N de N constructions can be successfully interpreted by the basic function model, we will have evidence that they should be treated as NN compounds semantically.;The results show that the model proposed by Jackendoff can be successfully applied to Spanish. Despite the fact that almost all basic functions are attested in Spanish NN compounds, these functions are not equally frequent or common. In fact, there are significant differences with respect to the productivity of the functions in the language, as it becomes evident once they are arranged on a hierarchy according to their frequency. As for the N de Ns, most of the functions present in NNs are also attested in N de Ns but in a different hierarchical order. Last but not least, taking all the facts discussed in the thesis, it could be argued that semantics is a factor responsible for the peripheral nature of NN compounds in Spanish. Since NN compounds have fewer and less productive basic functions and express fewer semantic relations than alternative N de N construction, it seems that NN compounds are semantically restricted, which could be one reason for their unproductivity.