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"Phrasal Nouns" Is a "phrasal noun" in English that bizarre thing where you place nouns side-by-side and together that only mean one thing? I think that's what it's called, because I learned it here, I'm pretty sure. It strikes me as really strange. Like  "automobile repair shop." Why can't we just combine the words and write "automobilerepairshop"  like they do in German? Would English speakers all just have heart attacks or something seeing a word like that, or not be able to figure it out? It's an oddity of English. I've noticed some of these words transition from two to one, like "court house" used to be that, now it's "courthouse." And then some words have to be connected with a dash so English speakers don't get dizzy or something and then they later get accepted as one word. All I can figure is it has something to do with the lack of grammatical gender in English. You obviously couldn't have three words side-by-side, each with a different gender, and then try to say all together they mean only one thing, because what gender would the one thing have? See, it doesn't make any sense. Weird. Is there any history to any of this?
Mar 28, 2018 3:38 AM
Comments · 7

Hi SHL, you're talking about compound nouns. A phrasal noun is derived from a phrasal verb, or at least has a verb as its base, so examples of phrasal nouns would be "uptake", "overlook", "fallout" and so on.

I think compound nouns (such as "automobile repair shop") are allowable in English because the first noun(s) act as adjectives and therefore don't normally change. Word order is a pretty strong concept in English. Sometimes they hyphenate, sometimes they merge, sometimes they stay separate. Whatever works best, I suppose.

I've noticed in Russian and Slovak (and I guess in other Slavic languages) that compound nouns don't exist, and instead the first noun is converted into an adjective form.

March 28, 2018
Thanks Peachey. I compare English grammar to German grammar and, for me, German grammar is so much easier. I learned German grammar and never English grammar and the two don’t match up at all. Very different. Glad I don’t have to learn English because the grammar would be a bear! I’d be befuddled by it in 15 minutes! Thanks for the input! 
March 28, 2018
I constantly use these nouns:
table dinner cookbook
bicycle drivetrain cassette
Python code chunk
I find this nice. In Russian we can connect up to four nouns by means of genitive case.
March 28, 2018
That‘s why I always tell people on the answer board that English is a language of brevity. It hates long sentences and long words. That’s why the best writing style is to say what you want to say using as few and shortest words as possible without losing clarity or meaning. And you wonder why people call English a lazy language? 
March 28, 2018
Also, I cannot speak for Britain’s English but American English has a cultural influence of the idea of efficiency. Words are combined and shortened for efficiency. We will not become dizzy, but we will be impatient. 
March 28, 2018
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