, a compound is a lexeme
(less precisely, a word
) that consists of more than one stem
. Compounding, composition or nominal composition is the process of word formation
that creates compound lexemes. That is, in familiar terms, compounding occurs when two or more words or signs are joined to make a longer word or sign, often however written in separate parts in English but not most other languages, e.g. ''press conference''.
The meaning of the compound may be similar to or different from the meaning of its components in isolation. The component stems of a compound may be of the same part of speech—as in the case of the English word ''footpath'', composed of the two nouns ''foot'' and ''path''—or they may belong to different parts of speech, as in the case of the English word ''blackbird'', composed of the adjective ''black'' and the noun ''bird''. With very few exceptions, English compound words are stressed on their first component stem.
As a member of the Germanic family of languages, English is unusual in that even simple compounds made since the 18th century tend to be written in separate parts. This would be an error in other Germanic languages such as Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German and Dutch. However, this is merely an orthographic convention: As in other Germanic languages, arbitrary noun phrases, for example "girl scout troop", "city council member", and "cellar door", can be made up on the spot and used as compound nouns in English too.
The process occurs readily in all Germanic languages
for different reasons. Words can be concatenated both to mean the same as the sum of two words (e.g. ''Pressekonferenz''—German for press conference) or where an adjective and noun are compounded (e.g. ''hvidvinsglas''—Danish for white wine glass).
The addition of affix morphemes
to words (such as suffix
es or prefixes
, as in ''employ'' → ''employment'') should not be confused with nominal composition, as this is actually morphological derivation
Some languages easily form compounds from what in other languages would be a multi-word expression. This can result in unusually long words, a phenomenon known in German (which is one such language) as ''Bandwurmwörter'' or ''tapeworm words''.
s also have compounds. They are created by combining two or more sign stems.
So-called "classical compounds
" are compounds derived from classical Latin
or ancient Greek roots
Formation of compounds
Compound formation rules vary widely across language types.
In a synthetic language
, the relationship between the elements of a compound may be marked with a case or other morpheme. For example, the German
compound consists of the lexemes (sea captain) and (license) joined by an ''-s-'' (originally a genitive case
suffix); and similarly, the Latin
lexeme contains the archaic
genitive form of the lexeme (family). Conversely, in the Hebrew language
compound, the word בֵּית סֵפֶר (school), it is the head that is modified: the compound literally means "house-of book", with בַּיִת (house) having entered the construct state
to become בֵּית (house-of). This latter pattern is common throughout the Semitic languages
, though in some it is combined with an explicit genitive case, so that both parts of the compound are marked (e.g. Arabic عبد الله ''ʕabdu ʔal-lāhi'' "servant-of-God").
s tend to create very long words with derivational morphemes. Compounds may or may not require the use of derivational morphemes also.
The longest compounds in the world may be found in the Finnic
and Germanic languages
. In German
extendable compound words can be found in the language of chemical compounds, where, in the cases of biochemistry and polymers, they can be practically unlimited in length, mostly because the German rule suggests combining all noun adjunct
s with the noun as the last stem. German examples include (color television set), (radio remote control), and the often quoted jocular word (originally only two Fs, Danube-Steamboat-Shipping Company
hat), which can of course be made even longer and even more absurd, e.g. ''Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsmützenreinigungsausschreibungsverordnungsdiskussionsanfang'' ("beginning of the discussion of a regulation on tendering of Danube steamboat shipping company captain hats") etc. According to several editions of the Guinness Book of World Records
, the longest published German word has 79 letters and is '' Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft
''("Association for Subordinate Officials of the Main Electricty
Maintenance Building of the Danube Steam Shipping"), but there is no evidence that this association ever actually existed.
In Finnish, although there is theoretically no limit to the length of compound words, words consisting of more than three components are rare. Even those with fewer than three components can look mysterious to non-Finnish speakers, such as (emergency exit). Internet folklore sometimes suggests that (Airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student) is the longest word in Finnish, but evidence of it actually being used is scant and anecdotal at best.
Compounds can be rather long when translating technical documents from English to some other language, since the lengths of the words are theoretically unlimited, especially in chemical terminology. For example, when translating an English technical document to Swedish, the term "Motion estimation search range settings" can be directly translated to , though in reality, the word would most likely be divided in two: – "search range settings for motion estimation".
A common semantic classification of compounds yields four types:
compound consists of a ''head
'', i.e. the categorical part that contains the basic meaning of the whole compound, and modifiers, which restrict this meaning. For example, the English compound ''doghouse'', where ''house'' is the head and ''dog'' is the modifier, is understood as a house intended for a dog. Endocentric compounds tend to be of the same part of speech
(word class) as their head, as in the case of ''doghouse''. (Such compounds were called ''tatpuruṣa
'' in the Sanskrit tradition.)
compound (called a ''bahuvrihi
'' compound in the Sanskrit
tradition) is a hyponym
of some unexpressed semantic category (such as a person, plant, or animal): none (neither) of its components can be perceived as a formal head, and its meaning often cannot be transparently guessed from its constituent parts. For example, the English compound ''white-collar'' is neither a kind of collar nor a white thing. In an exocentric compound, the word class is determined lexically, disregarding the class of the constituents. For example, a ''must-have'' is not a verb but a noun. The meaning of this type of compound can be glossed as "(one) whose B is A", where B is the second element of the compound and A the first. A bahuvrihi compound is one whose nature is expressed by neither of the words: thus a ''white-collar'' person is neither white nor a collar (the collar's colour is a metonym
for socioeconomic status). Other English examples include ''barefoot''.
Copulative compounds are compounds with two semantic heads.
Appositional compounds are lexemes that have two (contrary) attributes that classify the compound.
All natural languages have compound nouns. The positioning of the words (i.e. the most common order of constituents in phrases where nouns are modified by adjectives, by possessors, by other nouns, etc.) varies according to the language. While Germanic languages, for example, are left-branching when it comes to noun phrases (the modifiers come before the head), the Romance languages are usually right-branching.
, compound nouns are often formed by left-hand heads with prepositional components inserted before the modifier, as in ''chemin-de-fer'' 'railway', lit. 'road of iron', and ''moulin à vent'' 'windmill', lit. 'mill (that works)-by-means-of wind'.
, one way of forming compound nouns is as follows: ''yeldeğirmeni'' 'windmill' (''yel'': wind, ''değirmen-i'': mill-possessive); ''demiryolu'' 'railway' (''demir'': iron, ''yol-u'': road-possessive).
Occasionally, two synonymous nouns can form a compound noun, resulting in a tautology
. One example is the English word ''pathway
A type of compound that is fairly common in the Indo-European languages
is formed of a verb and its object, and in effect transforms a simple verbal clause into a noun.
, for example, such compounds consist of a verb conjugated for the second person singular imperative followed by a noun (singular or plural): e.g., ''rascacielos'' (modelled on "skyscraper", lit. 'scratch skies'), ''sacacorchos'' 'corkscrew' (lit. 'pull corks'), ''guardarropa'' 'wardrobe' (lit. 'store clothes'). These compounds are formally invariable in the plural (but in many cases they have been reanalyzed as plural forms, and a singular form has appeared). French and Italian have these same compounds with the noun in the singular form: Italian ''grattacielo'' 'skyscraper', French ''grille-pain'' 'toaster' (lit. 'toast bread').
This construction exists in English, generally with the verb and noun both in uninflected form: examples are ''spoilsport'', ''killjoy'', ''breakfast'', ''cutthroat'', ''pickpocket'', ''dreadnought'', and ''know-nothing''.
Also common in English is another type of verb–noun (or noun–verb) compound, in which an argument of the verb is incorporated
into the verb, which is then usually turned into a gerund
, such as ''breastfeeding'', ''finger-pointing'', etc. The noun is often an instrumental complement. From these gerunds new verbs can be made: ''(a mother) breastfeeds (a child)'' and from them new compounds ''mother-child breastfeeding'', etc.
Verb-noun compounds derived from classical languages tend to be nouns; rarely, a verb-noun classical compound
can be a verb. One example is ''miscegenate
'', a word that literally falls into disuse nowadays, which is derived from a Latin verb and a Latin noun. In the Australian Aboriginal language Jingulu
, a Pama–Nyungan language
, it is claimed that all verbs are V+N compounds, such as "do a sleep", or "run a dive", and the language has only three basic verbs: ''do'', ''make'', and ''run''.
A special kind of compounding is incorporation
, of which noun incorporation into a verbal root (as in English ''backstabbing'', ''breastfeed'', etc.) is most prevalent (see below).
Verb–verb compounds are sequences of more than one verb acting together to determine clause structure. They have two types:
*In a serial verb
, two actions, often sequential, are expressed in a single clause. For example, Ewe ''trɔ dzo''
, lit. "turn leave", means "turn and leave", and Hindi
''jā-kar dekh-o'', lit. "go-CONJUNCTIVE PARTICIPLE
", means "go and see". In Tamil
, a Dravidian language, van̪t̪u paːr, lit. "come see". In each case, the two verbs together determine the semantics and argument structure.
Serial verb expressions in English may include ''What did you go and do that for?'', or ''He just upped and left''; this is however not quite a true compound since they are connected by a conjunction and the second missing arguments may be taken as a case of ellipsis
*In a compound verb (or ''complex predicate''), one of the verbs is the primary, and determines the primary semantics and also the argument structure. The secondary verb, often called a vector verb or explicator, provides fine distinctions, usually in temporality or aspect
, and also carries the inflection
(tense and/or agreement markers). The main verb usually appears in conjunctive participial (sometimes ''zero'') form. For examples, Hindi
''nikal gayā'', lit. "exit went", means 'went out', while निकल पड़ा ''nikal paRā'', lit. "exit fell", means 'departed' or 'was blurted out'. In these examples निकल ''nikal'' is the primary verb, and गया ''gayā'' and पड़ा ''paRā'' are the vector verbs. Similarly, in both English ''start reading'' and Japanese 読み始める ''yomihajimeru'' "read-CONJUNCTIVE
-start" "start reading," the vector verbs ''start'' and 始める ''hajimeru'' "start" change according to tense, negation, and the like, while the main verbs ''reading'' and 読み ''yomi'' "reading" usually remain the same. An exception to this is the passive voice, in which both English and Japanese modify the main verb, i.e. ''start to be read'' and 読まれ始める ''yomarehajimeru'' lit. "read-PASSIVE-(CONJUNCTIVE)
-start" ''start to be read''. With a few exceptions all compound verbs alternate with their simple counterparts. That is, removing the vector does not affect grammaticality at all nor the meaning very much: निकला ''nikalā'' '(He) went out.' In a few languages both components of the compound verb can be finite forms: Kurukh
''kecc-ar ker-ar'' lit. "died-3pl went-3pl" '(They) died.'
*Compound verbs are very common in some languages, such as the northern Indo-Aryan languages Hindustani
, and Dravidian languages
, where as many as 20% of verb forms in running text are compound. They exist but are less common in other Indo-Aryan languages like Marathi
, in Tibeto-Burman languages
, in Turkic languages
, in Korean
, and in northeast Caucasian languages like Tsez
*Under the influence of a Quichua
substrate speakers living in the Ecuadorian altiplano
have innovated compound verbs in Spanish:
:''De rabia puso rompiendo la olla'', 'In anger (he/she) smashed the pot.' (Lit. from anger put breaking the pot)
:'' Botaremos matándote'' 'We will kill you.' (Cf. Quichua ''huañuchi-shpa shitashun'', lit. kill-CP
:Likewise in Hindi: तेरे को मार डालेंगे ''tere ko mār DāleNge'', lit. "we will kill-throw you").
*Compound verb equivalents in English (examples from the internet):
:''What did you go and do that for?''
:''If you are not giving away free information on your web site then a huge proportion of your business is just upping and leaving.''
:''Big Pig, she took and built herself a house out of brush.''
*Caution: In descriptions of Persian
and other Iranian languages
the term 'compound verb' refers to noun-plus-verb compounds, not to the verb–verb compounds discussed here.
Parasynthetic compounds are formed by a combination of compounding and derivation
, with multiple lexical stems
and a derivational affix. For example, English ''black-eyed'' is composed of ''black'', ''eye'', and ''-ed'' 'having', with the meaning 'having a black eye'; Italian ''imbustare'' is composed of ''in-'' 'in', ''busta'' 'envelope', ''-are'' (verbal suffix), with the meaning 'to put into an envelope'.
s formed by prepositions and nouns are common in English and the Romance languages (consider English ''on top of'', Spanish ''encima de'', etc.). Hindi has a small number of simple (i.e., one-word) postpositions and a large number of compound postpositions, mostly consisting of simple postposition ''ke'' followed by a specific postposition (e.g., ''ke pas'', "near"; ''ke nīche'', "underneath").
Examples from different languages
Chinese (traditional/simplified Chinese; Standard Chinese Pinyin
*學生/学生 'student': 學 ''xué''/''hok6'' learn + 生 ''shēng''/''sang1'' living being
*太空/太空 'space': 太 ''tài''/''taai3'' great + 空 ''kōng''/''hung1'' emptiness
*摩天樓/摩天楼 'skyscraper': 摩 ''mó''/''mo1'' touch + 天 ''tiān''/''tin1'' sky + 樓 ''lóu''/''lau2'' building (with more than 1 storey)
*打印機/打印机 'printer': 打 ''dǎ''/''daa2'' strike + 印 ''yìn''/''yan3'' stamp/print + 機 ''jī''/''gei1'' machine
*百科全書/百科全书 'encyclopaedia': 百 ''bǎi''/''baak3'' hundred + 科 ''kē''/''fo1'' (branch of) study + 全 ''quán''/''cyun4'' entire/complete + 書 ''shū''/''syu1'' book
*謝謝/谢谢 'thanks': Repeating of 謝 ''xiè'' thank
* 'disability insurance': 'labour' + 'inaptitude' + 'insurance'.
* 'sewage treatment plant': 'sewer' + ''water'' 'water' + 'cleaning' + 'installation'.
* 'birthday calendar': 'birthday' + 'calendar'.
* 'customer service representative': 'customers' + 'service' + 'worker'.
* 'university library': 'university' + 'library'.
* 'possibilities for advancement': 'through' + 'grow' + 'possibilities'.
* 'dictionary': 'word' + 'book'
* 'computer': 'knowledge data' + 'machine'
* 'Wednesday': 'middle' + 'week'
* 'world': 'land' + 'air'
* 'railway station': 'iron' + 'road' + 'station'
* 'electricity meter': 'three-phase kilowatt hour meter'
* 'skyscraper': 'clouds' + 'scraper'
* 'railway': 'iron' + 'track'
* 'automobile': 'power' + 'drive' + 'machinery'
* 'barbed wire': 'barb/barbed' + 'wire'
*: literally cattle-marking- and beef-labeling-supervision-duties-delegation law
* ''philosopher'': φίλος ''phílos'' 'beloved' + σοφία ''sophíā'' 'wisdom'
* ''dēmokratíā'' 'democracy': δῆμος ''dêmos'' 'people' + κράτος 'rule'
* ''rhododáktylos'' 'rose-fingered': ῥόδον ''rhódon'' 'rose' + δάκτυλος ''dáktylos'' 'finger' (a Homeric epithet
applied to the Dawn)
* 'railway': 'iron' + 'path' or 'way'
* 'vehicle': ''farar'' 'journey' + ''tæki'' 'apparatus'
* 'encyclopedia': 'everything' + 'study' or 'knowledge' + 'dictionary' ( 'words' + 'book')
* 'telephone conversation': ''sím'' 'telephone' + ''tal'' 'dialogue'
* 'centipede': 'thousand' + 'feet'
* 'railway': 'iron' + 'way'
* 'windscreen wiper': 'to wash' + 'crystal (pane of) glass'
*pomodoro: pomo d'oro = apple of Gold = tomatoes
*portacenere = porta cenere = ashtray
*目覚まし（時計） 'alarm clock': 目 ''me'' 'eye' + 覚まし ''samashi (-zamashi)'' 'awakening (someone)' (+ 時計 ''tokei (-dokei)'' clock)
'': お好み ''okonomi'' 'preference' + 焼き ''yaki'' 'cooking'
*日帰り ''higaeri'' 'day trip': 日 ''hi'' 'day' + 帰り ''kaeri (-gaeri)'' 'returning (home)'
*国会議事堂 'national diet building': 国会 ''kokkai'' 'national diet' + 議事 'proceedings' + 堂 ''dō'' 'hall'
*안팎 ''anpak'' 'inside and outside': 안 ''an'' 'inside' + 밖 ''bak'' 'outside' (As two nouns compound the consonant sound 'b' fortifies into 'p' becoming 안팎 ''anpak'' rather than 안밖 )
*''mashkikiwaaboo'' 'tonic': ''mashkiki'' 'medicine' + ''waaboo'' 'liquid'
*''miskomin'' 'raspberry': ''misko'' 'red' + ''miin'' 'berry'
*''dibik-giizis'' 'moon': ''dibik'' 'night' + ''giizis'' 'sun'
*''gichi-mookomaan'' 'white person/American': ''gichi'' 'big' + ''mookomaan'' 'knife'
* 'science fiction': , 'science', + , 'fiction' (This word is a calque
from the English expression ''science fiction
''. In English, the head of a compound word is the last morpheme: science ''fiction''. Conversely, the Spanish head is located at the front, so ''ciencia ficción'' sounds like a kind of fictional science rather than scientific fiction.)
* 'centipede': 'hundred' + 'feet'
* 'railway': 'iron' + 'lane'
* 'umbrella': 'stops' + '(the) water'
* 'keeping the head low in a bad mood': ''cabeza'' 'head' + ''bajo'' 'down'
* 'seesaw' (contraction of 'goes up and down')
* 'windshield wiper' is a nested compound:
'clean' + ''windshield'', which is itself a compound of 'stop' + 'breezes'.
In ''Cemmozhi'' (Classical Tamil), rules for compounding are laid down in grammars such as Tolkappiyam
, in various forms, under the name ''punarcci''. Examples of compounds include kopuram
from 'kō' (king) + 'puram
' (exterior). Sometimes phonemes may be inserted during the blending process such as in kovil
from 'kō' (king) + 'il' (home). Other types are like ''vennai'' (butter) from 'veḷḷai' (white) + 'nei' (ghee
); note how 'veḷḷai' becomes 'ven'.
In ''koṭuntamizh'' (Non-standard Tamil), parts of words from other languages may be morphed into Tamil. Common examples include 'ratta-azhuttam' (blood pressure) from the Sanskrit ''rakta'' (blood) and ''Cemmozhi'' 'azhuttam' (pressure); note how ''rakta'' becomes ''ratta'' in Tamil order to remove the consonant-cluster. This also happens with English, for examples ''kāpi-kaṭai'' (coffee shop) is from English ''coffee'', which becomes ''kāpi'' in Tamil, and the Tamil ''kaṭai'' meaning shop.
*''dlòotsǫ̀ǫ̀'' 'peanut butter': ''dlòo'' 'squirrel' + ''tsǫ̀ǫ̀'' 'dung'
*''eyakǫ̀'' 'hospital'': ''eya'' 'sick' + ''kǫ̀'' 'house'
*''dè gotłeè'' 'kerosene': ''dè'' 'land' + ''gotłeè'' 'its fat'
*''dǫ łèt'è'' 'bannock': ''dǫ'' 'boriginal
people' + ''łèt'è'' 'bread'
In Germanic languages
), compounds are formed by prepending what is effectively a namespace
(disambiguation context) to the main word. For example, "football
" would be a "ball" in the "foot" context. In itself, this does not alter the meaning of the main word. The added context only makes it more precise. As such, a "football" must be understood as a "ball". However, as is the case with "football", a well established compound word may have gained a special meaning in the language's vocabulary
. Only this defines "football" as a particular type of ball (unambiguously the round object
, not the dance party
, at that), and also the game involving such a ball. Another example of special and altered meaning is "starfish" – a starfish
is in fact not a fish
in modern biology. Also syntactically, the compound word behaves like the main word – the whole compound word (or phrase) inherits the word class
and inflection rules of the main word. That is to say, since "fish" and "shape" are nouns, "starfish" and "star shape" must also be nouns, and they must take plural forms as "starfish" and "star shapes", definite singular forms as "the starfish" and "the star shape", and so on. This principle also holds for languages that express definiteness
by inflection (as in North Germanic
Because a compound is understood as a word in its own right, it may in turn be used in new compounds, so forming an arbitrarily long word is trivial. This contrasts to Romance languages, where prepositions are more used to specify word relationships instead of concatenating the words. As a member of the Germanic family of languages, English is unusual in that compounds are normally written in separate parts. This would be an error in other Germanic languages such as Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German and Dutch. However, this is merely an orthographic convention: As in other Germanic languages, arbitrary noun phrases
, for example "girl scout troop", "city council member", and "cellar door", can be made up on the spot and used as compound nouns in English too.
In the Russian language
compounding is a common type of word formation
, and several types of compounds exist, both in terms of compounded parts of speech and of the way of the formation of a compound.
Compound nouns may be agglutinative compounds, hyphenated compounds (стол-книга 'folding table', lit. 'table-book', "book-like table"), or abbreviated compounds (acronym
s: колхоз 'kolkhoz
'). Some compounds look like acronym, while in fact they are an agglutinations of type stem
+ word: Академгородок 'Akademgorodok
' (from ''akademichesky gorodok'' 'academic village'). In agglutinative compound nouns, an agglutinating infix is typically used: пароход 'steamship': пар + о + ход. Compound nouns may be created as noun+noun, adjective + noun, noun + adjective (rare), noun + verb (or, rather, noun + verbal noun
Compound adjectives may be formed either per se (бело-розовый 'white-pink') or as a result of compounding during the derivation of an adjective from a multi-word term: Каменноостровский проспект () 'Stone Island Avenue', a street in St.Petersburg
Reduplication in Russian
is also a source of compounds.
Quite a few Russian words are borrowed from other languages in an already-compounded form, including numerous "classical compound
s" or internationalisms
: автомобиль 'automobile'.
Sanskrit is very rich in compound formation with seven major compound types and as many as 55 sub-types.
The compound formation process is productive, so it is not possible to list all Sanskrit compounds in a dictionary. Compounds of two or three words are more frequent, but longer compounds with some ''running through pages'' are not rare in Sanskrit literature.
Some examples are below (hyphens below show individual word boundaries for ease of reading but are not required in original Sanskrit).
Himālaya, decomposed as hima-ālaya): Name of the Himalaya
mountain range. Literally ''the abode of snow''. A compound of two words and four syllables.
*प्रवर-मुकुट-मणि-मरीचि-मञ्जरी-चय-चर्चित-चरण-युगल (IAST pravara-mukuṭa-maṇi-marīci-mañjarī-caya-carcita-caraṇa-yugala): Literally, ''O the one whose dual feet are covered by the cluster of brilliant rays from the gems of the best crowns'', from the Sanskrit work Panchatantra
A compound of nine words and 25 syllables.
*कमला-कुच-कुङ्कुम-पिञ्जरीकृत-वक्षः-स्थल-विराजित-महा-कौस्तुभ-मणि-मरीचि-माला-निराकृत-त्रि-भुवन-तिमिर (IAST kamalā-kuca-kuṅkuma-piñjarīkṛta-vakṣaḥ-sthala-virājita-mahā-kaustubha-maṇi-marīci-mālā-nirākṛta-tri-bhuvana-timira): Literally ''O the one who dispels the darkness of three worlds by the shine of Kaustubha
jewel hanging on the chest, which has been made reddish-yellow by the saffron from the bosom of Kamalā (Lakshmi
)'', an adjective of Rama
in the Kakabhushundi Rāmāyaṇa
. A compound of 16 words and 44 syllables.
*साङ्ख्य-योग-न्याय-वैशेषिक-पूर्व-मीमांसा-वेदान्त-नारद-शाण्डिल्य-भक्ति-सूत्र-गीता-वाल्मीकीय-रामायण-भागवतादि-सिद्धान्त-बोध-पुरः-सर-समधिकृताशेष-तुलसी-दास-साहित्य-सौहित्य-स्वाध्याय-प्रवचन-व्याख्यान-परम-प्रवीणाः (IAST sāṅkhya-yoga-nyāya-vaiśeṣika-pūrva-mīmāṃsā-vedānta-nārada-śāṇḍilya-bhakti-sūtra-gītā-vālmīkīya-rāmāyaṇa-bhāgavatādi-siddhānta-bodha-puraḥ-sara-samadhikṛtāśeṣa-tulasī-dāsa-sāhitya-sauhitya-svādhyāya-pravacana-vyākhyāna-parama-pravīṇāḥ): Literally ''the acclaimed forerunner in understanding of the canons of Sāṅkhya
, Pūrva Mīmāṃsā
, Nārada Bhakti Sūtra
, Śāṇḍilya Bhakti Sūtra, Bhagavad Gītā
, the Ramayana of Vālmīki
; and the most skilled in comprehensive self-study, discoursing and expounding of the complete works of Gosvāmī Tulasīdāsa
An adjective used in a panegyric of Jagadguru Rambhadracharya
. The hyphens show only those word boundaries where there is no sandhi
. On including word boundaries with sandhi (vedānta=veda-anta, rāmāyaṇa=rāma-ayana, bhāgavatādi=bhāgavata-ādi, siddhānta=siddha-anta, samadhikṛtāśeṣa=samadhikṛta-aśeṣa, svādhyāya=sva-adhyāya), this is a compound of 35 words and 86 syllables.
Also in sign languages, compounding is a productive word formation process. Both endocentric and exocentric compounds have been described for a variety of sign languages.
Copulative compounds or dvandva
, which are composed of two or more nouns from the same semantic category to denote that semantic category, also occur regularly in many sign languages. Thsign
for ''parents'' in Italian Sign Language
, for instance, is a combination of the nouns `father' and `mother'. This is an example of a sequential compound; in sign languages, it is also possible to form ''simultaneous'' compounds, where one hand represents one lexeme while the other simultaneously represents another lexeme. An example is the sign for ''weekend'' in Sign Language of the Netherlands
, which is produced by simultaneously signing a one-handed version of the sign for ''Saturday'' and a one-handed version of the sign for ''Sunday.''
Although there is no universally agreed-upon guideline regarding the use of compound words in the English language
, in recent decades written English has displayed a noticeable trend towards increased use of compounds.
Recently, many words have been made by taking syllables of words and compounding them, such as pixel (picture element) and bit (binary digit). This is called a syllabic abbreviation
In Dutch and the Scandinavian languages
there is an unofficial trend toward splitting compound words, known in Norwegian as ''særskriving'', in Swedish as ''särskrivning'' (literally "separate writing"), and in Dutch as ''Engelse ziekte'' (the "English disease"). Because the Scandinavian languages rely heavily on the distinction between the compound word and the sequence of the separate words it consists of, this has serious implications. For example, the adjective ''røykfritt'' (literally "smokefree", meaning no smoking allowed) if separated into its composite parts, would mean ''røyk fritt'' ("smoke freely"). In Dutch, compounds written with spaces may also be confused, but can also be interpreted as a sequence of a noun and a genitive
(which is unmarked in Dutch) in formal abbreviated writing. This may lead to, for example, ''commissie vergadering'' ("commission meeting") being read as "commission of the meeting" rather than "meeting of the commission" (normally spelled ''commissievergadering'').
The German spelling reform
of 1996 introduced the option of hyphen
ating compound nouns when it enhances comprehensibility and readability. This is done mostly with very long compound words by separating them into two or more smaller compounds, like ''Eisenbahn-Unterführung'' (railway underpass) or ''Kraftfahrzeugs-Betriebsanleitung'' (car manual). Such practice is also permitted in other Germanic languages, e.g. Danish and Norwegian
(Bokmål and Nynorsk alike), and is even encouraged between parts of the word that have very different pronunciation, such as when one part is a loan word
or an acronym
Compounding by language
* Compound modifier
* Bracketing paradox
* Etymological calque
* Genitive connector
* Incorporation (linguistics)
* Multiword expression
* Noun adjunct
* Phono-semantic matching
* Status constructus
* Syllabic abbreviation
, South African placename
* Word formation
: a phrase becomes a word
*Kortmann, Bernd: ''English Linguistics: Essentials'', Cornelsen, Berlin 2005.
* ''The Oxford Handbook of Compounding'', eds. Lieber, Rochelle & Pavol Štekauer, 2009. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
*Plag, Ingo: ''Word-formation in English'', Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2003.
*Scalise Sergio & Irene Vogel (eds.) (2010), ''Cross-Disciplinary Issues in Compounding'', Amsterdam, Benjamins.
Compound Words: When to Hyphenate