hurricane money

Yet another example of a noun-noun compound that can only be correctly understood by someone who can fill in the story that connects the referents of the two nouns — what Pamela Downing in her 1977 Language article on compounding called “deictic compounds” (she offered the wonderful pumpkin bus, complete with the story) and I call “distant compounds” in my compounding files. More examples popped up in comments on Geoff Pullum’s 2008 Language Log posting on canoe wife.

Headlines are particularly fertile ground for distant compounds, since they require packing a lot of information into a few words, and compounding is good for that. So, in the January 12 New York Times, p. A12, a news brief with the head:

Mississippi: Two Accused of Stealing Hurricane Money

The brief goes on to explain that two women “are being accused of stealing more than $721,000 in Hurricane Katrina relief money.”

4 Responses to “hurricane money”

  1. Data points: distant compounds 8/2/10 « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Log, or on ADS-L) — a “distant compound” (see discussion of hurricane money here in January): to understand the relationship between the second N (the head) and the first (the modifier), you […]

  2. Data points: distant compounds 8/2/10 « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Log, or on ADS-L) — a “distant compound” (see discussion of hurricane money here in January): to understand the relationship between the second N (the head) and the first (the modifier), you […]

  3. ‘Smuggle plot tomatoes’ and other distant compounds « Sentence first Says:

    […] boy” is what Arnold Zwicky calls a distant compound. These are noun-noun compounds “that can only be correctly understood by […]

  4. Lift up your heads, O ye gates « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] ostentatious, jokey status. And therefore grates on many people’s ears. (Compare X-gate with “distant” N + N compounds, which are equally context-specific and short-lived, but don’t generally arouse such […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: