Are Meanings of Exocentric Compounds Really Idiosyncratic or Systematic? An Experimental Study


  • Saima Jamshaid Lecturer, Department of English, University of Gujrat, Punjab, Pakistan



Compounding, Cultural linguistics, Exocentric compounds, Metonymic/Metaphoric relations


Exocentric compounds, also referred to as bahuvrihi compounds, are distinguishable from other classes of compounds, e.g., endocentric, in the ground that their meanings are unpredictable and idiosyncratic. For this single most important reason, these compounds have been marginalized and didn't receive as closer attention as the other classes. But the question is, are these types of choices really random? Their mere scale of productivity would deny the assumption that they are random and unsystematic. This paper originates in the assumption that these compounds in fact lend sufficient evidence that their formation and 'idiosyncratic' interpretation is on the other hand very systematic and can be explained elegantly if we bring into perspective the cultural aspect which regulates their formation through the mechanism of metonymic/metaphoric relations. In order to substantiate the claim, this study designed an exercise for Punjabi language speakers/experts where they were given novel (non-prevalent) exocentric compounds and were asked to interpret them. The study lent a great deal of support to the view adopted that the culturally shared knowledge allowed the respondents to interpret these exocentric compounds fairly correctly. The results are encouraging that the cultural aspect of the compounds holds true which explains the assumption that these types of compounds are systematic and a rule governed phenomenon.





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How to Cite

Jamshaid, S. (2024). Are Meanings of Exocentric Compounds Really Idiosyncratic or Systematic? An Experimental Study. Pakistan Social Sciences Review, 8(2), 82–93.