The universal phenomenon of what we call the FIXITY of linguistic forms in natural languages, which corresponds in French terminology to the notion of “figement” and its corrolary, the notion of “degré de figement”(degree of fixity), concerns not only morphology but also compounding processes. In both cases, the subcategorization of internal elements is crucially involved.
In fact, fixity allows words to be “recycled” in any language and, after all, compound words are nothing but recycled words. 1 This idea is on a par with Slobin’s (1973) observation that “new functions are expressed by old forms”. Indeed, recycling words involves several processes of “supra-word” formation. Our attempt will be to show that LEXEMIC compounding, as opposed to MORPHEMIC compounding, obeys syntactic principles of Universal Grammar (UG) in order to bring about the required fixity within a “lexemic structure”, ie a supra-word structure.
Our proposals entail an entirely new approach to the problem of compound words in Romance insofar as we strongly deny that a single lexical entry must obligatorily be linked with a single terminal node. In fact, it will be shown that a lexical entry bearing complex syntactic information, as in compounds for instance, must be projected elsewhere than onto a simple terminal node.