LINGUIST List 13.2621

Mon Oct 14 2002

Sum: Corporate Noun-Phrase Reversal

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  • Dan Stowell, Re: "Corporate Noun-Phrase Reversal"

    Message 1: Re: "Corporate Noun-Phrase Reversal"

    Date: Wed, 09 Oct 2002 15:56:13 +0000
    From: Dan Stowell <>
    Subject: Re: "Corporate Noun-Phrase Reversal"

    Dear LinguistList,

    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.

    Best, Dan Stowell 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.

    Andrew Wilcox Angelochori GR57109 Thessaloniki