Data points: plurals in compounds 7/16/12

A brief follow-up to my posting of 12/5/10 on plurals in compounds (schools chief / superintendent / administrator, comments spam, jobs market), inspired by a posting to ADS-L by Jon Lighter this morning:

A Romney spokesman says in CNN that in three-and-a half years in office, the President “hasn’t even moved the needle” on “jobs creation.”

In my day, that would have been “*job* creation.”

My earlier posting noted a collection of cases where compounds with Npl first element alternated with compounds with a bare-stem N (interpreted semantically as plural) as first element; alongside the examples cited above are: school chief / superintendent / administratorcomment spamjob market. And so it is with jobs creationjobs creators, and jobs growth.

In fact, the jobs market case in my earlier posting was from Lighter, who took it to be “hypercorrect pluralization of attributives”. I wouldn’t automatically label such things as hypercorrections, but instead treat them as motivated by a desire for more semantic transparency in the form of compounds. In any case, alternations between Npl and bare-stem N are very common in certain precincts in the world of compounds. A few examples, from an enormous number:

[JOBS CREATION] Gov. Brown punts on jobs creation
The governor neglected to include jobs creation on the list, despite the Golden State’s 11 percent unemployment rate, the nation’s third highest. (link)

[JOB CREATION] An economy that works: Job creation and America’s future (link)

[JOBS GROWTH] Where Will 2012 Jobs Growth Come From? (link)

[JOB GROWTH] Viewpoints: Brown’s tax hike would impede job growth (link)

Most strikingly, there are a fair number of cites with Npl and bare-stem N in the same passage, like:

[Wikipedia] Job creation program
[JOB CREATION throughout, except:] In 2011 President Barack Obama, in an opening bid for re-election discussed using innovation economics as the basis for his jobs creation program.

[USA Today] Romney ad attacks Obama’s jobs-creation record
A “super PAC” associated with Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign launched a $3.1 million ad buy in Iowa on Thursday, starting with an ad attacking President Obama’s job-creation record and touting Romney’s.

[MittRomney.com] Romney Will Be A Friend To Jobs Creators
The Hispanic community has been especially hurt by President Obama’s failed economic policies and hostility to job creators.

[NPR] Who Are The Job Creators?
As President Obama pushes Congress to pass his jobs bill, Republicans argue the administration’s policies hurt “job creators.” The phrase “job creators” comes up often these days in political rhetoric. So we wanted to understand who exactly the jobs creators are.

Bare-stem N predominates in some cases, Npl in others, and I have no handle on how these things have changed over time.

4 Responses to “Data points: plurals in compounds 7/16/12”

  1. Jon Lighter Says:

    When I mentioned to my students in 2002 that “jobs market” had become the preferred cable-news form of “job market,” they seemed not to believe me.

    I wonder what today’s reaction would be.

  2. job(s) market « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] I posted last week about plurals as the first elements of N + N compounds, Jon Lighter added the comment: When I […]

  3. Helma Says:

    This phenomenon is pretty much unheard of in Dutch, and accordingly I analyzed painstaking as pain + staking when I first encountered it. Either I ignored the finite forms ‘take pains’ or just failed to put two and two together.
    (I *almost* wrote, “the finite forms must have been less frequent” 🙂 )

  4. underfeet « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Heard on some radio show on KQED as I was drifting off to sleep last night, the adverb underfeet (instead of underfoot). The original example is lost to me, but others are easy to find. The semantic motivation for this variant is clear — we have two feet for things to be under — so I thought the variant was likely to be a recent reshaping of the P + N compound to fit the meaning (roughly parallel to plurals in the first N of N + N compounds, in things like movies update, campuses information, and games hardware — some discussion here).  […]

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