Project D11-N (2014-2018)

Overview of the project D11 of the CRC 732

A Crosslingual Approach to the Analysis of Compound Nouns

Researchers: Stefan Müller, Patrick Ziering  

This project proposes a compositional approach to noun-noun (N-N) compound analysis with an interdependent three-level model that comprises compound splitting, capturing the meaning of the components and the covert relation that holds between them.

Ambiguity is found on all levels, with the highest ambiguity found on the level where the implicit relation is uncovered. The two possible split points in the German compound Kuhlerwartung,  Kuhl-erwartung ('cool expectation') vs. Kuhler-wartung  ('radiator maintenance') illustrate the ambiguity that arises at the level of compound splitting. The endless list of covert relations that can hold between the constituents of the compound becomes apparent when we look at the following examples: a chocolate cake is a cake made of chocolate, a wedding cake is a cake made for a wedding, and a cupcake is a cake made using a metal cup. 

Crosslingual approaches are promising for semantic analysis due to the regular variation found in different languages. For example, whereas English leaves the compound relation covert, in French we find prepositions that correlate with the relation type. Chocolate cake, cake made of chocolate, is translated with gateau au chocolat, whereas wedding cake, cake made for a wedding, is gateau de marriage. We will use multi-lingual data throughout the project, in analysis and evaluation.

We will work towards a wide-coverage integrational approach, using automatic, knowledge-lean, corpus-based methods.


  • Lonneke van der Plas. 2018.
    Cross-lingual approaches to compound noun analysis
    Invited talk at the Linguistics Circle, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
    June 11, 2018

  • Lonneke van der Plas. 2017
    Compound nouns:  analysis and generation Invited talk at IWCS, Montpellier, France
    September 20, 2017

  • Gianina Iordachioaia, Lonneke van der Plas & Glorianna Jagfeld. 2017a.
    The Structure and Interpretation of Deverbal Compounds: Insights from a Corpus-based Study.
    Invited talk at Osnabrück Linguistics Day.
    University of Osnabrück,
    January 12, 2017.

  • Gianina Iordachioaia, Lonneke van der Plas & Glorianna Jagfeld. 2017b.
    The Morphosyntax and Interpretation of English Deverbal Compounds: A Corpus-based Study.
    Invited talk.
    Humboldt University, Berlin,
    February 20, 2017.

  • Iordachioaia, G., L. van der Plas & G. Jagfeld. 2017c.
    The Role of the Head in the Interpretation of Deverbal Compounds.
    Presentations at the Workshop "Wen wurmt der Ohrwurm? An interdisciplinary, cross-lingual perspective on the role of constituents in multi-word expressions", within the 37th Annual Meeting of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS 2017),
    March 8-10, 2017.

  • Iordachioaia, G., L. van der Plas & G. Jagfeld. 2017d.
    The structure and interpretation of English deverbal compounds.
    Presentation at the Workshop on Nominalizations (JeNom) 7,
    Université de Fribourg,
    Fribourg, Switzerland,
    June 1-2, 2017.

Presentations (sorted by year)

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