The Korean Association of Language Studies

언어학과 언어교육분야의 연구를 통한 학문의 질적 향상과 국내외 회원 및 학회간 학술 교류와 친목을 도모


pISSN: 1226-9859

언어학연구, Vol.25 no.2 (2020)

DOI : 10.21291/jkals.2020.25.2.8

Semantic transparency of noun-noun compounds in Chinese and English : A case of ‘ji(机)’ and ‘machine’

Zhang Heng

(Professor, Nanchang Normal University, Ph.D candidate, Chungnam National University)

Sangcheol Lee

(Professor, Chungnam National University)

This case study examined the degree of the perceived semantic transparency of noun-noun compounds with the same word family: Chinese 'ji(机)' and its English equivalence 'machine'. The result indicated that compounds with ’machine‘ right-headed were dominant in number compared with the left-headed ones while compounds with ’ji(机)’ in both positions maintained opacity. It is argued that the naming of the new creations or inventions brought about more semantically transparent noun-noun compounds in English. By contrast, the stability and limitedness of Chinese characters facilitated the meaning extension or shift in compounding, thus making the Chinese noun-noun compounds more semantically opaque via metonymy and metaphor.

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