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  1. #1
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    Default Cardinal number as Adjective ?

    When I say (with its equivalent part of speech according to Penn Treebank tags http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Fall_2003/ling001/penn_treebank_pos... )

    convert/VB binary/JJ 111/CD to/TO decimal/JJ system/NN

    my specific interest is on that binary/JJ 111/CD , "binary" is the
    adjective of the number "111" and it modifies the number.

    In English, almost every noun can act as adjective which is called
    adjectival noun , it's always located to the left of the noun that it
    modifies called the head, such as "water tank", "dog house", "computer
    program", those words water, dog, computer are adjectival noun
    respectively.

    so how about this,

    convert/VB 2/CD kilometers/NN to/TO meter/NN

    "2" is a cardinal number and is also a noun, "2" will modifies
    "kilometers", do we look at "2" as the adjective of kilometer ? or how
    do you look at it ? Thank you.

    PS.

    Regards,
    William Kisman

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Cardinal number as Adjective ?

    Some see them as adjectives:
    va=two - Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
    You can also look on them as determiners

  3. #3
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    Default Adjectival Noun?

    I’m afraid I’ve never understood the term “adjectival noun”, as in the examples keenlearner provides: water tank, dog house, and computer programme. I’d always viewed them nominal compounds, i.e. two nouns or a gerund plus noun joined to create a new vocabulary unit.

    To call the first noun “adjectival” seems misleading, for the role of an adjective is to “modify” its noun. Thus, ‘a green CAR’ is a car that is green – capitals indicate the primary-stressed syllable – and ‘a friendly NEIGHbour’ is a neighbour who is friendly, etc. Also, participial adjectives do a similar job, so ‘a tired WORKer’ is a worker who has become tired, and ‘an interesting BOOK’ is a book that engages your interest, and so on.

    But ‘a WATer tank’ is obviously not a tank that is water, just as ‘a SWIMming pool’ is hardly a pool that is swimming, so the relationship cannot be adjectival. Rather, there seem to be two main relationships involved in nominal compounds.

    1. Purpose-Instrument-Use: ‘a WATer tank’ is a tank built to hold water, ‘a DOG house’ is a house built to house a dog, and ‘a comPUTer programme’ is a programme designed to be run on a computer. Similarly, ‘a TORTure implement’ is an implement designed or used to apply torture, and ‘a BEDroom’ is a room set apart to hold beds for us to sleep in.

    2. Transitive Verb-Object (which may also involve the first relationship): ‘a FUND-raiser’ is an event held to raise funds, ‘a NAIL cutter’ is a device designed for us to cut our nails with, and ‘an ENGlish teacher’ is a person who teaches English.

    We can have fun with the difference in the stress (and intonation) patterns between nominal compound and adjective plus noun. Thus, ‘an ORange tree’ is not ‘an orange TREE’, ‘an ENGlish teacher’ is not necessarily ‘an English TEACHer’, and ‘a dancing GIRL’ need not be employed as ‘a DANCing girl’. There are also some instances of adjectives becoming “nominalised”, e.g. ‘a HIGH school’, ‘a DARKroom’, and ‘a BLACKbird’.

    At least two exceptions exist to the nominal-compound stress rule whereby primary stress falls on the primary-stressed syllable of the first element in the compound.

    3. Ingredients: we speak of ‘an apple PIE’, i.e. a pie that is baked using apples, of ‘a steak DINNER’, of ‘a rhubarb TART’ and of ‘a Caesar SALad’, i.e. a lettuce salad prepared à la Caesar, but cakes seem to be an exception to the exception, e.g. ‘a CHOColate cake’.

    4. Location (commonly with the definite article): we speak of ‘the city WALLS’, of ‘a town HALL’, of ‘the kitchen SINK’, and of ‘the livingroom SOFa’.

    To conclude, the rule whereby primary stress in nominal compounds normally falls on the primary-stressed syllable of the first element appears to be a feature of Germanic languages. In German, for example, ‘an ENGlish teacher’ is ‘ein ENGlischlehrer’ (and not ‘ein englischer LEHRer’), ‘a SPEED limit’ is ‘eine geSCHWINDigkeitbegrenzung’, and the Black Forest is rendered using a “nominalised” adjective, ‘der SCHWARTZwald’ (and not ‘der schwartze WALD’). Is it not time the idea of “adjectival noun” was banished from our thoughts?

  4. #4
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    Default The return of the adjectival noun

    Actually, I’ve come up with a context where a noun may indeed be “adjectival”, perhaps better called “appositional”. I once saw an ambiguous newspaper headline: “Child Murderer Held”. Before I read the article, it wasn’t clear whether it would deal with a person who’d murdered children, i.e. ‘a CHILD murderer’, or with a child who’d murdered other people, i.e. ‘a child MURDerer’. (It was about an 11-year-old who’d killed a 10-year-old.) The former interpretation follows the regular primary-stress pattern for nominal compounding, whereas the latter follows that for adjective plus noun.

    Other examples of appositional nouns that have sprung to mind are ‘a boy SCOUT’ (as well as ‘a BOY scout’), ‘a girl deTECTive’, ‘a lady BUG’ (as opposed to ‘a LADYbug’), ‘a teacher trainEE’, and ‘an apprentice CARPenter’. There must be more. To go back to the original headline, it might more accurately have been “Child Child Murderer Held”, with appositional ‘child’ preceding the nominal compound ‘child murderer’.

    Secondly, present-participial adjectives derived from verb-object compounds keep primary stress on the first element according to rule, e.g. a fund-raising event, a nail-biting ending (an ending that bites its nails?), a child-murdering psychopath, a people-hating sociopath, a fun-loving nature.

    Thirdly, noun-plus-gerund compounds also follow the regular primary-stress rule, e.g. fund-raising, as in ‘Successful fund-raising requires a lot of cajoling’, but some of these compounds seem less natural than others, for gerund compounding appears to endow the activity with a kind of “established” professional, social, and/or habitual status. Thus, English teaching, nail-biting, celebrity-watching, hairdressing, bull-fighting (human fights bull) and cock-fighting (cock fights cock) are established activities. But, while hairdressers always cut people’s hair and everybody habitually clips their toenails, activities like haircutting and toenail-clipping don’t quite have the same cachet. In turn, people-hating, child-murdering, and fun-loving come over as awkward if used as gerund compounds. Interestingly, this may be because we already have the gerund phrase to do the job, e.g. ‘Having fun is his passion’ feels fine, but ‘Fun-loving is his passion’ feels awkward.

    Finally, there’s at least one exception in the noun-plus-gerund camp, foreshadowed by the example above of ‘a teacher trainEE’. The natural primary stress is ‘teacher TRAINing’, and not ‘TEACHer training’. I’ve no idea why this should be.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Adjectival Noun?

    Quote Originally Posted by iconoclast View Post
    Is it not time the idea of “adjectival noun” was banished from our thoughts?
    How would the fact that the first word of the compound normally doesn't show plurality fit into your analysis?

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    Default Re: Cardinal number as Adjective ?

    That's a good question, on which I have little insight. The intuition is that it's probably Germanic, so I looked a few up in online German and Dutch dictionaries.

    German (which I used to have an extensive knowledge of):

    NAIL clipper = NAGelzange [nail (sing) pincer]
    BULLfight(ing) = STIERkampf [bull (sing) fight]
    COCKfight(ing) = HAHNenkampf [cocks (pl) fight]
    apple TART = APFeltorte [apple (sing) tart]

    Dutch (which I once had a passing knowledge of):

    NAIL clipper = NAGelknipper ['nagel' looks singular]
    BULLfight(ing) = STIERegevecht ['stiere' sure looks plural, but the '-e' suffix might be an obligatory juncture transition]
    COCKfight(ing) = HANengevecht [definitely plural]
    apple TART = APPeltaart (?) ['appel' looks singular]

    First-element singularisation seems to operate with nail clipper and apple tart in both languages. Cockfighting is cock on cock, which might explain the use of plural in both languages, but bullfighting, which is human on a bull or on bulls (?), varies from one to the other. I'm afraid I don't know enough about Dutch to be totally sure that Dutch 'stiere' is plural. For example, German, sometimes uses a "transition" at the juncture of the two elements. Thus, when in my first post I gave the German word for speed limit, I accidentally omitted the '-s-' transition that is commonly added to words ending in '-keit' when they're compounded. The correct spelling is Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung.

    But we're not quite back to square one. First-element singularisation does occur in at least some cases in German and Dutch, so it does seem to be a Germanic word-formation thing. In English, it occurs in verb-object compounds, e.g. 'a CAR salesman' (but politically correct 'a car SALESperson', probably owing to the extra secondary stress in 'person', with salesman and -person themselves being compounds) is a person who sells cars. I've never seen or found an explanation in the literature that explains why. Indeed, English boasts one peculiarity that might seem to thoroughly muddy the issue. Nouns whose plural is still Germanic, i.e. "irregular", sometimes form compounds with the plural: one of my examples was 'people-hating', and not 'person-hating', but yet we say 'child-murderer' for the killer of a child or of children, and not 'children-murderer' (?) in the latter case. Can anyone else shed some light?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Cardinal number as Adjective ?

    We also have 'sports ground', which isn't German.

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    Default Re: Cardinal number as Adjective ?

    Conclusion: nobody has the faintest idea why singularisation occurs, period

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