surgeon general

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given this sentence:

The old general feels bad.

"old" is a adjective and "general" is a noun.

Now given this sentence:

The surgeon general feels bad.

Why is "surgeon" a noun and "general" a adjective?
I would expect "surgeon" to be a adjective and "general" to be a noun.

Can anybody please explain this?
Thank you in advance.
 

Steven D

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Sep 6, 2004
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English Teacher
Unregistered said:
given this sentence:

The old general feels bad.

"old" is a adjective and "general" is a noun.

Now given this sentence:

The surgeon general feels bad.

Why is "surgeon" a noun and "general" a adjective?
I would expect "surgeon" to be a adjective and "general" to be a noun.

Can anybody please explain this?
Thank you in advance.
Placing an adjective after a noun is an extremely infrequent occurence in English. However, it can happen. It would be done to make a strong statement.

surgeon general - If we say "general surgeon" it's not necessarily apparent and clear that this surgeon is the one in charge of the U.S. public health service.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=8&q=surgeon+general


It comes to mind with "things".

They have an interest in things American it would seem.

things American - things that are American

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&c2coff=1&q=%22things+american%22

They have an interest in things European. - things that are European

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&c2coff=1&q=%22things+European%22
 
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