Cucumber soap

Today’s One Big Happy (from a bit earlier), in which Ruthie copes with the N + N compound cucumber soap, meant as a source compound (soap with cucumbers, or their scent, as the principal or most significant ingredient in it), while Ruthie takes it to be a use compound (soap used for (cleaning) cucumbers):


A brief recap on the semantics of N + N compounds (summarizing points from previous postings, many of them taking off from cartoons). First, there are what I’ve called Type O (for Ordinary) compounds, in which the semantic relationship between the parts is drawn from a small set of conventional relationships (source, object, use, resemblance, for example) and what I’ve called  Type X (for Extraordinary) or “distant” compounds, where you have to know a story about the original situation of use (cue: canoe wife and pumpkin bus) and for which the sematics is, in principle, completelt]y open-opened.

This posting is all about Type O examples, where the space of interpretations is, in principle finite. There is still plenty of room for very similar-looking examples to be interpreted in different ways and for some examples to be ambiguous.

Source vs. object. The most likely interpretation of underground critic has  the/an underground as the source of the criticism, while the most likely interpretation of Obama critic has Obama as the object of the criicism.  Alabama experts is certainly ambiguous, between source (‘experts from Alabama’) and object (‘experts on Alabama’).

Source vs. resemblance. The most likely interpretation of cornhusk doll has cornhusks as the material for the doll, while by far the most likely interpretation of superhero doll has a doll resembling a superhero. Cucumber doll is ambiguous between the two, between source (‘a doll make od cucumber parts’) and resemblance (‘a doll that looks like a cucumber’).

Source vs. use. Pretty much the only available interpretation of cucumber soup has cucumbers as the main ingredient of the soup (bonus: photo and outline of recipe below), while pretty much the only available interpretations of nursery soup and sick-room soup (sometimes also: ínvalid soup).

Bonus digression: Creamy Cucumber Soup (with avocado and yoghurt):


From EatingWell magazine May/June 2007:

There’s no reason to only use cucumbers raw — they are wonderful sautéed then pureed with avocado for a silken-textured soup that’s good warm or cold.

Ingredients for 4 servings, about 1 cup each, include 4 cups peeled, seeded and thinly sliced cucumbers, divided; 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, or reduced-sodium chicken broth; 1 avocado, diced; 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish; 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt.

Another contrast between source examples and use examples is covered in my 9/4/11 posting “lobstter?”, in the observation:

Compare fish sauce, which is made from fish, with duck sauce and lobster sauce, which are sauces for duck and lobster (or shrimp), respectively [roughly, source vs. use]

On to X soap, where there are certainly use (‘soap for X’) examples: face soap, body soap, etc. And then there’s the source example (‘soap with X or X scent as its most significant ingredient’) cucumber soap in #1. You can, in fact, get such cucumber soap in commercial preparations (example below), or follow instructions to make it on your own.


There seem to be no use examples of cucumber soap out there, simply because a soap specifically for use on cucumbers isn’t something there’s any call for — but of course Ruthie doesn’t know that.

Finally, X soap examples can be ambiguous between source and use, as in the case of leather soap. Imperial Leather Soap (among other soaps) has the scent of leather as its most significant ingredient (like lavender soap, etc.):


Meanwhile, Antiquax Leather Soap (among other soaps) is a soap for leather, of the sort often sold under the name saddle soap:


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