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Re: [ontolog-forum] Bad language - no biscuit.

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Obrst, Leo J." <lobrst@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2011 15:55:20 -0400
Message-id: <0111C34BD897FD41841D60396F2AD3D307B4049A62@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Yes, as Simon points out, there are exceptions even in English to the head noun being the right/final noun in noun-noun (compound noun) phrases, though as John points out, that is generally true.  Typically pre-head elements are attributive and post-head elements are predicative (and given left-right Subject-Verb-Object order in English, the predicative is on the right), but the actual head is the issue. Often a clue is which noun you can pluralize, but even that has exceptions, since many people allow for equivalent interpretations:





Baby oil

Baby oils

*Babies oil


In general, hyphenated or string-concatenated noun-noun compounds are clearer, but because they are lexicalized, they often have idiosyncratic meanings. Example: broomstick, egghead, night-rider.





From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Simon Spero
Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 2:07 PM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Bad language - no biscuit.


On Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 11:43 PM, John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


I have no idea what you mean by that comment.  Is that agreement or disagreement?

>> But in English, a Noun-Noun phrase simply means that Noun1 has some relationship to Noun2 that modifies or restricts its meaning.
> I'm afraid I'm going to have to refer your remark to the attorney general, you egghead.

Just a couple of examples of exceptions to the common pattern. Attorney General is the default example of a left-headed compound in English (Attorney is the noun that is modified).  This is almost certainly due to the French origins of the phrase.
Egghead is a compound where the meaning is external to both components of the compound.

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