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Exocentric contruction Definition

What is an exocentric construction? An exocentric construction is a construction that does not contain any head element that is capable of being a syntactically adequate substitution for the whole construction. Examples (English) •             Prepositional phrase Neither the component preposition nor the noun phrase may substitute for the whole prepositional phrase. •             Clause No single element of the clause may substitute for the whole.

 exocentric construction definition

adj. 1. Exocentric construction is an adjective of or relating to a group of syntactically related words, none of which is functionally equivalent to the function of the whole group. For example, none of the words in the phrase on the table is an adverb, yet they combine to form a phrase having adverbial function.   2. Exocentric construction is an adjective of or relating to a compound word whose referent is not the same as the referents of any of its constituent parts. For example, the noun razorback does not refer to a type of back, but to a type of hog (one having a sharply ridged back).

 Exocentric Construction Example

Below is an Example of Exocentric Construction

Hot Coffee and Hot Air

"The coffee is hot", so why not ...?
(first pareagraph of Exocentric construction) The very first essay that ever appeared on this site was about the amazing economy of expression the English language achieves with Noun + Noun compounds ( Miniature No. 1). In all such compounds, such as bread knife, the last or 'right-hand' word (technically called the head) shows the general category we're talking about, and what comes before it restricts or specifies it in some way. In this case, not just any type of 'knife' but specifically the kind that is used for 'bread'.   ( Second paragraph of Exocentric construction) There were a few of these, though, that were a bit odd. They were the ones like couch potato where the meaning seems to be not in a combination of the two (the type of vegetable that has to do with a piece of furniture??) but relies on an understanding of something other than the compound itself. Compounds like this, whose center lies outside the combination of words, are called exocentric, and all the ones whose meaning is a simple combination of the components are endocentric. (third paragraph of Exocentric construction) It is the exocentric compounds that show the metaphorical richness of the language, so let's dig into them a little further. Only this time, we'll look at a slightly different type of compound, the ones made up of Adjective + Noun. Fourth paragraph of Exocentric construction) First though, let's make sure we agree what we're talking about. A compound is a combination of two or more words, the left one(s) restricting the right one. It normally has its stress on the first of them: BLUEbird (a particular species). But even more common are phrases consisting of a Noun and a Modifier, and here the stress is on the word being modified: blue BIRD (any bird that looks 'blue'). Say them both: sure you hear the difference? We'll be talking about both of them here. (FIfth paragraph of Exocentric construction) We can paraphrase Adjective + Noun compounds by saying "a bird that is blue", or using A = Adjective and N = Noun, "an N that is A". Try this now with high chair, lowlands, bad mood, wildfire. (Below are sixth paragraph of Exocentric construction) But now we come to the fun part. What are you going do when you come up with redneck or bigwig? You're not likely to disagree that saying "a neck that is red" or "a wig that is big" would be rather naively missing the real meaning. These are both exocentric Adjective + Noun compounds, and there are lots more like them in English: blackmail, cheapskate, dumbbell, easy street, funnybone, grandmother, greenhorn, highbrow, numbskull, oddball, shorthand, sourpuss, wetback, White House ... If you try the "N that is A" method, you see that the real meaning of every one of them escapes. Now let's turn to the other type of combination, Adjective + Noun phrases. We can paraphrase a phrase of this kind as "the N is A": try good idea, green grass, heavy stone, hot weather Did you try making up a few more? Now look at some other combinations of a noun modified by an adjective, constructions that are grammatically exactly the same: bad apple, cold turkey, dark horse, dead meat, dirty linen, heavy metal, hot potato, white elephant ... Most of them (though not all) can have a literal endocentric meaning, that is we can really mean "the apple is bad, the elephant is white" and so on. But all these are much more commonly used in a metaphorical, exocentric, and therefore unpredictable, meaning. (Seventh paragraph of Exocentric construction) This brings us back full circle to that title. The phrase hot coffee (A + N) is the straightforward endocentric "the coffee is hot" (the N is A). And hot air can perfectly well be endocentric too: we can say "the air is hot" when we want it to lift a certain type of balloon. But if you think of the more common meaning of hot air that all of us know, why does the paraphrase "the air is hot" seem to miss the point so completely? Now you can see that it's because in this meaning it is exocentric, so we would never guess the colloquial meaning from the meanings of air and hot. You can also see now how much metaphorical color exocentric compounds and phrases add to the language. (Eighth paragraph of Exocentric construction) We saw that the meaning 'center' in our understanding of an endocentric compound or phrase lies in the - more or less - simple relation between the two or more components. But the meaning 'center' of an exocentric compound is never predictable from the components, because each one contains its own metaphor, and all these are out in our social customs somewhere. Along with the endless things we are constantly picking up as we participate and interact in our society, we learn the meaning of each such compound individually. You might even claim that the ongoing life of a society over the centuries lays down 'geological' strata of meaning in exocentric constructions like these. Reflections of a rich cultural experience. Yes,,, just that all i can say about Exocentric construction. If you find it difficult to understand Exocentric construction, you may search on google on Exocentric construction. If you like, you may bookmark this site. thank you.


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