Does anyone know or can suggest a term for the following expressions:


Expressions like those above are special for (at least) two reasons:
1. The plural attaches to the first noun, rather than to the entire expression, hence


but not


2. The dependent PPs do not seem to be modifiable, hence the next examples are bad:


There is more that distinguishes these expressions from nouns with adjunct PPs, but this should suffice as background.

Any ideas what these expressions are called? Or do you have a suggestion?

  • I believe dependency theories talk about "head-initial" and "head-final" constructions. That's the distinction here; the head noun comes first (and gets pluralized) and is followed by some modifier that doesn't get inflected. Attorneys general, brides-to-be, ex-mothers-in-law-to-be. Normally modifiers precede the head noun: rail cars, bean soups, pony rides, snake bites.
    – jlawler
    Jul 7 '14 at 19:37
  • @jlawler Everything is either head-initial or head-final in DGs. Hence this is not much of a distinction. The compound make up is also head-initial, but clearly not of the type addressed in my question. Jul 8 '14 at 5:29

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