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Thanks to all who responded to my question (Linguist 13.2209).
Many people have pointed out other occurrences: Team USA, Tate Britain
and Tate Modern, BankAmerica, a hand-written sign in a Brussels
clothing shop advertising 'shoe foot' (football shoes?). I also
reproduce an email from Andrew Wilcox below, in case it's of interest.
University College London, UK
A precursor / early example of corporate noun phrase reversal in
English- car names? If the marque is the head of the noun phrase, the
model is?the post-placed?modfier. Typically, both can stand as?NP
heads (a Jaguar, my Escort) but I have an intuition that people more
frequently refer to cars by marque than by model - a very quick corpus
check at least does not contradict the intuition. Counting 120
concordance lines for "drives/drive/drove a", I got:
model (e.g. a Cavalier) 4 instances
marque (e.g. a Ford) 12 instances
marque + model (e.g. BMW 320i) 10 instances
So it could be that marque is more prominent in cognition, and is the
NP head where marque and model are both specified. One might also
argue that the model must be the?modifier as there is no such thing
as, say, a?Mercedes Elantra or a Ford?Astra.
As for "why?" - internationalisation seems a good place to start. Did
the word order in car?names?in English?begin with imports of French
vehicles?in the 1890s? (I don't know, it's just an idea.) Modern Greek
is ADJ-NOUN, but pizzerias in Greece are Pizza + name, e.g. Pizza
Roma, Pizza Udine, following Romance/Italian order.
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