, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 219–227 | Cite as

Lexical deconstruction—review of Giegerich, H., Lexical structures: Compounding and the modules of grammar, Edinburgh Studies in Theoretical Linguistics, vol. 1

Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015
  • Melanie J. BellEmail author
Review Article


In this slim volume, Professor Giegerich sets out to test the theory of lexicalism (Chomsky 1970) with reference to English constructions consisting of a head noun preceded by an attributive modifier, e.g. beautiful picture, heavy smoker, dental decay, toy factory, Edinburgh student, party leader. Conventionally, some of these constructions are classed as noun phrases, while others are regarded as compound nouns. According to lexicalism, the two classes are generated by separate modules of the grammar: one module, ‘the lexicon’, is responsible for generating complex words, while another module, ‘the syntax’, is responsible for generating phrases. If the theory is correct, we might therefore expect that compound words, products of the lexicon, would be clearly distinguishable from phrases, products of the syntax. Giegerich asks to what extent this distinction is really discernible within the domain of English nominals. His conclusion, spelt out in the book’s preamble, is that...


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK

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