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Type 4: Special Compound Nouns: Noun + Noun STRESS ON SECOND WORD


For example, a gold medal (in the Olympic Games) and cloth cap. Here, "a gold medal" = "a medal made of gold" and "a cloth cap" = "a cap made of cloth".

The 4a. examples are sorted into the following groups: Clothing Materials; Metals and Construction Materials; Jewellery and Precious Materials; Food Materials; Other Materials; Energy and Fuel Materials; and, Chemical Materials + A Process or Activity.

For example, the city centre (= the centre of the city) and world peace (= peace of the world).

The time can be a time of the day, such as "morning" or a time of the year such as "summer" or another time. For example, a summer holiday (= a holiday in summer) and winter sports (= sports of winter).

For example, science fiction (both science and fiction) and waste paper  (both waste and paper).

In the 4d. examples, it is quite obvious that the first noun is attempting to express an adjectival idea, more obvious than in the 4a, 4b and 4c examples. In fact, it is possible that some of these originally used adjectives as the first word. For example, possibly "science fiction" was originally "scientific fiction" and "luxury apartment" was originally "luxurious apartment" with the first words having evolved into shorter forms just to make it easier to say them.

However, it seems that most of these 4d examples have nouns as the first word simply because English doesn't have a suitable single adjective to express the exact meaning.

Many of you reading this might not recognize that the first word in these examples is a noun. Even some native English speakers might be confused. The reason for this is that some of these words are so frequently used this way that people start to think of them as adjectives. For example, "waste" in "waste paper" is a noun and "giant" in "Giant Panda" is also a noun. ("Giant" originally meant an unusually big person. Then it came to also mean, "an unusually big person or thing".)

In fact, although my Oxford dictionary says that these (and the other first words in the examples on that page) are only nouns, when you go to the MacMillan online dictionary website, you will see that MacMillan is starting to call many of these words both a noun and an adjective. In other words, "giant", for example, is now synonymous with "unusually big". This is an example of language evolution, or at least changes in language classification that reflect the reality of language evolution.

Despite the fact that "giant", "midget", "amateur", "veteran", "head" and "chief" and other first nouns in these examples are now called both nouns and adjectives, I am listing them here instead of under Type 2 because they are different types of adjectives, compared to the usual adjectives such as "happy" and "hungry".

These examples are similar to the 4d examples but, unlike the 4d examples where the thing is literally (字面的) or truly both the first noun and the second noun, in the 4e examples, the second noun is only figuratively (比喻 or 形像化) the same thing as the first noun it has the qualities of the first noun but is not an example of the first noun. For example, a package holiday is a holiday (vacation) that has several features all "wrapped up into one thing", like a package. A package holiday has the cost of the plane fare, the cost of the hotel and the cost of going on tours to tourist sites all combined into one cost that you pay the tour agency.

Another example is "a zebra crossing" (斑马线). "A zebra" is an animal and "a crossing" here means, "a place where people can cross the road". It's called a zebra crossing because there are white strips painted on the road at the crossing location and so it looks like a zebra's body markings.

There are not many examples of 4e in English.

It is sometimes difficult for learners of English to know if these Type 4 examples (which are really a variation of Type 2) are Type 1 or not. Hopefully, the few examples and the explanations here will help you when you come across other examples in the future.

(There are not many recordings of Type 4 available on the internet. I will make my own recordings soon.)


Click on a link to see the examples

4a: The first word is a material of which the second word is made  (Type 4, Page 1)

4b: The first word is a (common) place, group or thing  (Type 4, Page 2)

4c: The first word is a time word  (Type 4, Page 3)

4d: The thing represented by the compound noun is both the first noun and the second noun, at the same time  (Type 4, Page 4)

4e: The first noun has a strongly adjectival meaning  (Type 4, Page 5)