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COMPOUND NOUNS




Within the class of compound nouns we distinguish endentri and exocentric compounds. In endocentric nouns the referent is named by one of the elements and given a


further characteristic by the other. In exocentric nouns only the combination of both elements names the referent. A further subdivision takes into account the character of stems.

The sunbeam type. A noun stem is determined by another noun stem. This is a most productive type, the number of examples being practically unlimited.

The maidservant type also consists of noun stems but the relationship between the elements is different. Maidservant is an appositional compound. The second element is notionally dominant.

The looking-glass type shows a combination of a derived verbal stem with a noun stem.

The searchlight type consisting of a verbal stem and a noun stem is of a comparatively recent origin.

The blackboard type has already been discussed. The first stem here very often is not an adjective but a Participle II: cutwork. Sometimes the semantic relationship of the first element to the second is different. For instance, a green-grocer is not a grocer who happens to be green but one who sells vegetables.

There are several groups with a noun stem for the first element and various deverbal noun stems for the second: housekeeping, sunrise, time-server.

In exocentric compounds the referent is not named. The type scarecrow denotes the agent (a person or a thing) who or which performs the action named by the combination of the stems. In the case of scarecrow, it is a person or a thing employed in scaring birds. The type consists of a verbal stem followed by a noun stem. The personal nouns of this type are as a rule imaginative and often contemptuous: cut-throat, daredevil a reckless person, a murderer, lickspittle a toady, a flatterer, pickpocket a thief, turncoat a renegade.

A very productive and numerous group are nouns derived from verbs with postpositives, or more rarely with adverbs. This type consists chiefly of impersonal deverbal nouns denoting some action or specific instance. Examples: blackout a period of complete darkness (for example, when all the electric lights go out on the stage of the theatre, or when all lights in a city are covered as a precaution against air raids); also a temporary loss of consciousness; breakdown a stoppage through accident, a nervous collapse; hangover an unpleasant after-effect (especially after drink); make-up, a polysemantic compound which may mean, for example, the way anything is arranged, ones mental qualities, cosmetics; take-off, also polysemantic: caricature, the beginning of a flight, etc. Compare also: I could just imagine the brush-off hed had (Wain). Some more examples: comedown, drawback, drop-out, feedback, frame-up, knockout, set-back, shake-up, splash-down, take-in, teach-in, etc.

A special subgroup is formed by personal nouns with a somewhat derogatory connotation, as in go-between an intermediary, start-back a deserter. Sometimes these compounds are keenly ironical: die-hard an irreconcilable conservative, pin-up (such a girl as might have her


photograph pinned up on the wall for admiration, also the photograph itself), pick-up a chance acquaintance, a prostitute. More seldom the pattern is used for names of objects, mostly disparaging. For instance: Are these your books? Yes. They were a very odd collection of throw-outs from my flat (Cooper).

The group of bahuvrihi compound nouns is not very numerous. The term bahuvrihi is borrowed from the grammarians of ancient India. Its literal meaning is much-riced. It is used to designate possessive exocentric formations in which a person, animal or thing are metonymically named after some striking feature they possess, chiefly a striking feature in their appearance. This feature is in its turn expressed by the sum of the meanings of the compounds immediate constituents. The formula of the bahuvrihi compound nouns is adjective stem +noun stem.The following extract will illustrate the way bahuvrihi compounds may be coined: I got discouraged with sitting all day in the

backroom of a police station..... with six assorted women and a man with

a wooden leg. At the end of a week, we all knew each others life histories, including that of the woodenlegs uncle, who lived at Selsey and had to be careful of his diet (M. Dickens).

Semantically the bahuvrihi are almost invariably characterised by a deprecative ironical emotional tone. Cf. bigwig a person of importance, black-shirt an Italian fascist (also, by analogy, any fascist), fathead a dull, stupid person, greenhorn an ignoramus, highbrow a person who claims to be superior in intellect and culture, lazy-bones a lazy person.


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: 2015-09-13; : 90; !;





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