Frame semantics, metaphtonymy and compound verbs in English

As composites, compound verbs (CVs) in English raise interesting questions concerning the correlation between lexical items and frames in terms of profiling and construal. The semantic configuring of the constituency of CVs presents a specific case of special profiling of frames. It is argued here that CVs in English display three distinct patterns of frame modification: i) by constituent foregrounding (e.g. deep-fry, tumble-dry, spoon-feed, etc.); ii) by spatial scenario embedding (e.g. outnumber, underscore, overindulge, etc.); and iii) by engendering an emergent blended frame (e.g. ring-fence, pussyfoot, fast-talk, etc.). The patterns are associated with metaphtonymy operating in two distinct ways: i) and ii) are metonymy-based (e.g. outperform, job-hunt) while in iii) blending actualizing a metaphoric complex is the primary mechanism (e.g. gate-crash). This property of the conceptual constituency of CVs puts them in a special position vis a vis the profiling of event schemas in "conceptual cores" (Radden and Dirven 2007). Since "[p]rofiling amounts to nothing more than the relative prominence of substructures within a conceptualization, and is inherently a matter of degree" (Langacker 1990, p. 208), compound verbs seem to occupy a fuzzy area between relational concepts and "conceptual cores".

Key words: compound verbs, metonymy, frames, value foregrounding, frame integration


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