Propane Stoves and Gas Lamps: How the Concept Hierarchy Influences the Interpretation of Noun-Noun Compounds - Semantic Scholar

Barry J. Devereux, Fintan Costello

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

When people understand noun-noun compounds such as kitchen mirror they generate a relationship between the two constituent nouns, combining them together in a new concept. How do people determine or construct the correct relational link between the constituents? In our first experiment, we present evidence against one approach to noun-noun compounds, namely that of specifying the meaning of a compound with a single relation from a small taxonomy of general semantic relations. We found that people often select not one but several relations in the taxonomy for each compound meaning; for example, people classify coffee stain (meaning quot; a stain caused by the spilling of coffee quot;) as stain MADE OF coffee, coffee MAKES stain, stain BY coffee, coffee CAUSES stain and stain DERIVED FROM coffee. We also found that compounds which had similar constituent concepts tended to be classified into similar relations. Our second experiment examines the role of the constituent concepts in determining the correct relation directly: again similar constituent concepts give rise to similar interpretations. Also, the results show that the constituent concepts39; position in the conceptual hierarchy tends to influence interpretation: for example the compounds propane stove and gas lamp, which have conceptually similar constituents, tend to be interpreted in very similar ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
PublisherHillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
Pages589-594
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

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