The word status of Chinese adjective-noun combinations

Zheng Xu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The status of Chinese adjective-noun combinations ([A N]) has been debated for decades. This paper argues that Chinese [A N] are word-level expressions constructed in an autonomous word formation component of the grammar. I propose a monomorphemic constraint on the adjective of [A N]. Together with evidence from the tests of modification by degree adverbs, conjunction reduction, and XP substitution, this constraint supports the wordhood of Chinese [A N]. Additional evidence is that Chinese [A N] have a potential naming function and are subject to selectional restrictions. Neither anaphoric accessibility nor the restrictions on the ordering of adjectives are reliable criteria for establishing the status of Chinese [A N]. The various properties of Chinese [A N] are accounted for under the framework of Construction Morphology (Booij, Geert. 2010. Construction Morphology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-256
Number of pages50
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese
  • Construction Morphology
  • compounds
  • constructions
  • word formation


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