Disambiguating NN combinations with left/right stress

Abstract

An interesting subclass of Noun-noun combinations in English can take two meanings depending on whether the first or second word is stressed in speech. A BRICK factory is one that makes bricks, whereas a brick FACTORY is one made of brick. An explanation is offered in terms of a bias for nouns from particular ontological categories to trigger particular semantic interpretations for a combination, together with the proposal that the unstressed noun provides the relation to be used. The explanation is tested in three empirical studies.


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