Compound Noun - high school or junior high school

sullycampuzano

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Hi,

In the word junior high school, what's the compound noun, high school, or junior high school?

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emsr2d2

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Hi.

In the [STRIKE]word[/STRIKE] phrase "junior high school", what's the compound noun - "high school" no comma here or "junior high school"?

[STRIKE]Thanks.[/STRIKE] Unnecessary. Thank us after we help you, by clicking on the Thank button.

Welcome to the forum. :hi:

Please note my corrections above.

It's not a compound noun. Both "junior" and "high" are adjectives. In "high school", "high" modifies "school". In "junior high school", "junior" modifies "high" (or possibly it modifies "high school" - a grammarian will have to clarify this).
 

5jj

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I don't agree. A high school is not a school that is high. The two words together make up a noun that is used for a school that takes children of certain ages. I think the same is true of the three words that make up junior high school.
 

emsr2d2

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OK, but is it a compound noun? "High" isn't a noun. I thought that a compound noun that's made up of an adjective and a noun is written as one word, such as "greenhouse". Needless to say, 5jj, you're the grammarian here so I entirely defer to your expertise!
 

5jj

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I thought that a compound noun that's made up of an adjective and a noun is written as one word, such as "greenhouse".
They often are, but they don't have to be. Here are three that aren't: hot dog, black box, white lie.
 

Phaedrus

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I don't agree. A high school is not a school that is high. The two words together make up a noun that is used for a school that takes children of certain ages. I think the same is true of the three words that make up junior high school.

I just checked The Oxford Reference Guide to English Morphology (Bauer, Lieber, and Plag, 2013). Although it doesn't seem to have high school, it does give primary school as an example of an AN (adjective noun) combination, which takes left stress. That holds true with high school, too; the stress is on high, not on school.

High school being another name for secondary school, it is in direct contrast to primary school, also called elementary school. Interestingly, high school (in the U.S., grades 9 through 12) is a shortened version of senior high school, which comes after junior high school (in the U.S., grades 7 and 8).

In both junior high school and senior high school, the stress is on high rather than on junior/senior or school. The educational system aside, I believe that the men's gymnastics apparatus called high bar (sometimes with the) exhibits the same morphosyntactic features as high school.
 

jutfrank

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The three words junior high school together constitute the compound noun. It's called a compound noun because the head (school) is a noun.
 

Phaedrus

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The three words junior high school together constitute the compound noun. It's called a compound noun because the head (school) is a noun.

Should we suppose junior is part of the compound rather than an adjective modifying it? Junior would appear to be optional, as modifiers generally are.

Both the junior and the senior high school were represented in the parade.

High is not optional in the same way:

?*
Both the high and the elementary school were represented in the parade.
 

jutfrank

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Should we suppose junior is part of the compound rather than an adjective modifying it?

I think so, yes. The junior bit tells us what kind of high school it is.
 

5jj

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The phrase junior high school can be modified by an adjective but not by an adverb, placing the phrase in the compound noun category, I think.
 

Phaedrus

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I think so, yes. The junior bit tells us what kind of high school it is.

And Catholic in Catholic junior high school tells us what kind of junior high school it is. But is Catholic junior high school another compound noun?

At some point, surely, we can call an adjective a modifier that is not part of the noun compound: a strict year-round Catholic junior high school.

I believe it is also possible to speak of a junior boys high school.
 

5jj

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Is it time to move this thread to the Linguistics forum, mods?
 

5jj

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And Catholic in Catholic junior high school tells us what kind of junior high school it is. But is Catholic junior high school another compound noun?
The interesting and frustrating thing for me about word classes and labels is that there are no indisputably correct answers. A mammologist may be able to tell us whether mammal A is a sheep or a goat, and a lepidopterist may be able to tell us where insect B is a butterfly or a moth, and be reasonably certain that fellow mammologists/lepidopterists will agree. Some grammarians, however, spend half their professional lives arguing about labels. In my lifetime I have seen articles expelled from the adjective class, determiners (or determinatives) come into existence and, for some grammarians, many adverbs become prepositions. I shall doubtless live to see a few more changes.

My personal view (and that's all it can be) is that such expressions as high school, grammar school, primary school, etc, are compound nouns. The first word of each pair may well have begun life as an adjective (like the 'black' in 'blackboard) but has become over time part of a single compound noun, despite the fact that that noun is written as two separate words. I feel that, in British English at least, state school, public school, and even private school are also compound nouns.

I feel the same about junior high school.

I am, at the moment, not sure how I feel about Catholic junior high school or single-sex grammar school. The words in bold seem to me to be more like noun modifiers than parts of compound nouns, but I can't think of a convincing justification for this.
 

jutfrank

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And Catholic in Catholic junior high school tells us what kind of junior high school it is. But is Catholic junior high school another compound noun?

I'd say no because Catholic doesn't modify the meaning of the thing in the same way. Unlike high and junior high, the modifier Catholic does not contribute the kind of meaning that identifies how the school fits into the school system.

This is how I see it: There are high schools and then there are junior high schools. These are two semantically distinct classes of school within the school system. Importantly, this view does not count 'junior high school' as a hyponym of 'high school', which is how I think you're viewing things, Phaedrus, shown by your point that 'high school' is glossed as equivalent to 'senior high school'. In other words, according to my view, a 'junior high school' is not a kind of 'high school'—it's a kind of school whose meaning is actually contrastive to 'high school'.

Since we don't have such a distinction in UK school system, my sense may be hopelessly wrong here. However, I'm confident about one thing: this is not really anything to do with grammar but meaning. Modifiers modify the meaning of their heads in various ways.

The junior bit tells us what kind of high school it is.

I want to take this back as it contradicts what I'm trying to say.
 

probus

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As an aside, I once saw Catholic university presented as an example of an oxymoron. Having been raised as a Catholic I thought that was spot on.
 
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Phaedrus

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I'd say no because Catholic doesn't modify the meaning of the thing in the same way. Unlike high and junior high, the modifier Catholic does not contribute the kind of meaning that identifies how the school fits into the school system.

This is how I see it: There are high schools and then there are junior high schools. These are two semantically distinct classes of school within the school system.
That analysis makes a lot of sense, jutfrank.

Importantly, this view does not count 'junior high school' as a hyponym of 'high school', which is how I think you're viewing things, Phaedrus, shown by your point that 'high school' is glossed as equivalent to 'senior high school'.
The perspective I adopted was that "high" denotes "secondary," "secondary" picking out every grade after primary school. Primary school comprises kindergarten through the sixth grade, and secondary school comprises the seventh through the twelfth grade. Secondary ("high") school has two subsets, composed of grades 7-8 and 9-12, respectively, the former being junior high school and the latter senior high school. In this light, both "junior high school" and "senior high school" are species of "high school." There is no such thing as a high school that is not a senior high school or a junior high school.

In other words, according to my view, a 'junior high school' is not a kind of 'high school'—it's a kind of school whose meaning is actually contrastive to 'high school'.
I agree with that from the standpoint of everyday speech. I should say that almost no one in the U.S. uses "senior high school" in conversation. I suspect that "senior high school" is used mainly in formal institutional communications written by school-district administrators (superintendents and so forth). The rest of us just say "high school" instead, and there is never any ambiguity as to whether the speaker is referring to a school for grades 9-12 or to a school for grades 7 and 8. "High school" unambiguously refers to the former, and "junior high" to the latter. Interestingly, most of us use "junior high" without "school" at the end, but "high school" always includes the words "school." I tell people I went to Goleta Valley Junior High and then to Dos Pueblos High School. I usually don't include "School" as part of the former name and never include "Senior" as part of the latter. It was a revelation to me yesterday to recall that "senior" is technically part of "high school." :)
 

5jj

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Your posts here have been informative, Phaedrus, but I am not sure whether you, personally, think of high school and junior high school as compound nouns. I'd be interested to know.

(Don't worry - I am not going to attempt to prove you wrong; I am not even sure that my own opinion is 'correct')
 
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Tdol

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You can have a Catholic/Anglican/Muslim/Jewish/Hindu/secular, etc, junior high school. None of these belief systems modifies the age of the students. Junior does.
 

Phaedrus

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Your posts here have been informative, Phaedrus, but I am not sure whether you, personally, think of high school and junior high school as compound nouns. I'd be interested to know.

(Don't worry - I am not going to attempt to prove you wrong; I am not even sure that my own opinion is 'correct')

I am still thinking about that. I must admit that considering adjective-noun combinations "noun compounds" is new to me. Morphology is a weak point for me. I had incorrectly supposed that only constructions with attributive nouns were noun compounds.

Incidentally, 5jj, I just noticed the bolding of your "likes" and "thanks." Congratulations on being promoted to moderator! If there has been an announcement about this, I haven't been able to find it. Your new title couldn't be more well deserved.
 
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