part of speech of compound nouns

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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part of speech of compound nouns

Post by Hela » Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:15 pm

Dear Alan,

Would you please tell me to what part of speech do these words belong ?

work permit ; video game ; bike trailer...

Should they be listed under the category of:

a) compound nouns = 1 part of speech (does it exist ?)

b) noun (video; work; bike)
+ noun (game; permit; trailer) =
2 similar parts of speech

c) descriptive adjectives OR nouns functioning as adjectives ? (video; work; bike...)
+ nouns (permit; game; trailer) =
2 different parts of speech ?

Many thanks.
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Re: part of speech of compound nouns

Post by Alan » Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:12 am

'Compound noun' is not in itself a traditional form class, but nevertheless a widely used and understood syntactic label.

Depending on the level to which one wishes to functionally label sentence constituents, a compound such as work permit can be analysed as realizing the combination [ADJ + NOUN], since 'work' (although canonically a noun) is here serving as a modifier to a noun (permit).

Alternatively, the labels adnominal + nominal would be preferred by some grammarians.