Specializations > Typology and Descriptive Linguistics

compound nouns and noun heads


I'm looking at compounds and see a funny (but not hilarious) division.

1. boy-baby = 'infant son'
2. kiss-sickness = 'oral herpes'
3. excess.fat-people = 'the obese'

In all these cases, the second noun seems to be the head, agreed?

But what about this:
4. cake-gnome 'a traditional cake shaped like a gnome' (eaten during a specific ritual)

Here, the first noun seems to be the head.

How does one account for this difference?

More data! There's no strict requirement that there can only be one order, but that is strange.

Is there a possibility this is a borrowing?

It's the only one that I found that has this sort of formation. There's no reason to believe that it's a borrowing. How can I describe this difference in compound formation??

A footnote :)

Without more data, there's nothing to say at all, except that this is different. Worth a note certainly.


[0] Message Index

Go to full version