Language and Linguistics

Endocentric and Exocentric Constructions

Endocentric and Exocentric Constructions

The issue of endocentric and exocentric constructions is developed from the works of Leonard Bloomfield, who studies two ways of grouping constituents into more complex units, depending on the identity or not of the formal class between the whole and any of its parts . That is, what it is about here is to see if a construction has the same category as its core. Endocentric and Exocentric Constructions 

In this sense, Bloomfield distinguishes between endocentric and exocentric constructions:

  1.  Endocentric constructions : When the resulting phrase or constituent belongs to the same class as its constituent. These constructions can be of two types:
  2. a) Subordinate: When the resulting phrase or constituent belongs to the same syntactic class as  one  of its constituents, which is considered core. For example, the “ beautiful flowers ” construction, a nominal phrase (substantive construction) in which we find a substantive nucleus (a name: “ flowers ”).
  3. b) Coordinated: When the resulting phrase or constituent belongs to the same syntactic class as  two or more  of its constituents. For example, the “ Pedro and María ” construction, a coordinated phrase (substantive construction) in which we find two substantive nuclei (“ Pedro ” and “ María ”) linked by a coordinating nexus (“ y ”).
  1.  Exocentric constructions : When the resulting phrase has a different function from that of all its constituents, that is, it does not have any constituent element that represents it in its entirety. These constructions are basically the sentence (subject / predicate relationship, whose totality is not determined by any of them specifically), the prepositional constructions (indirect modifiers, circumstantial introduced by preposition, etc.) and the subordinate constructions introduced by a conjunction ( of the type “if you don’t come now …”, etc.).

This nomenclature is the one adopted by Ana María Barrenechea [1] to determine the functions that words can fulfill in a sentence, which allows her to see the functions that can be repeated within and between the Subject / Preached structures. Endocentric and Exocentric Constructions 

Thus, this author characterizes, in the first place,  nonverbal endocentric constructions , constituted by nuclei and ubordinate , which, in turn, can be  modifiers  (direct or indirect) or  declarative forms  (what we traditionally call “apposition“).

Then it focuses on  verbal endocentric constructions , characterized by the fact that in them the nucleus is always a verb and the subordinates are always modifiers that are determined by their valence, by the use of pronominal cases and / or by the possibility of changing its functions when changing the voice (active / passive), according to which, they can be: direct object, indirect object, circumstantial, agent and predicative.

The interesting thing about this nomenclature that Barrenechea adopts is that, as we noted above, it allows to determine the functions that a word can fulfill beyond the syntactic level in which the construction is found. For example, a nonverbal endocentric construct consisting of a substantive nucleus and a direct modifier can be a Subject, a direct object, the term of an indirect modifier or a circumstantial, etc., and therefore appear at the sentence level. , from a member (Subject or Preached) or from a subordinate:

” My mother’s cousin  is called Juana.”

“I went to the airport to look for  my mother’s cousin .”

“My sister just came with  my mother’s cousin .”

“I think I lost the photos where my mother’s cousin appears  .”

Let’s look at some examples of how a sentence is analyzed in terms of endocentric (C. En.) And exocentric (C. Ex.) Constructions:

1)      You have a very good face today.

[You look very good today.] OB [Subject Tacit] (C. Ex.)

You look  very good today.] Simple Verbal Preaching (C. En.)

[very good  face ] od (C. En.)

[very  good ] md (C. En.)

2)      Monday mornings are terrible for me.

[Monday mornings are terrible for me.] OB (C. Ex.)

  1. Monday  morning] Subject (C. En.)

[in the morning] my (C. Ex.)

  1. [they are  terrible to me] Preached Verbal Simple (C. En.)

[for me] dative of interest (C. Ex.)

3)      In the square there were many kids.

[In the square there were many kids.] OU (C. Ex.)

[many  kids ] od (C. En.)

[In the square] c. of place (C. Ex.)

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