Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Café Lobby

Lately, Café Lobbys have been springing up in urban centres.

Pity the name doesn’t make any sense, however. A ‘café lobby’ is a kind of lobby, not a kind of café, because the head noun is the last noun, in this case lobby. (English noun phrases are therefore said to be ‘head-last’.) Make it The Lobby Café.

Similarly, an English teacher (with primary stress on the noun premodifier ENGlish) is a kind of teacher — specifically, one who teaches English. (If the teacher is of English nationality, English is an adjective, and the primary stress falls on TEAcher.)

Are grammatical transgressions such as the above on the increase … or is it just me? Anyway, this is what I get for my troubles:

Oi! No photo-taking!!


Michirure said...

LOL, and you posted the photo up!

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Haha, yes, I do risk life and limb in the pursuit of knowledge!!

Vinodh said...

Interesting point.

As a matter of interest, English does not invariably use the "adjective-noun" construction.

Examples are place names (County Durham, Lake Windermere Mount Everest), titles (Solicitor General, Poet Laureate) and sui generis idiomatic expressiosn (the light fantastic).

An interesting effect in Singlish occurs when two adjectives modify the same noun. In Singapore English, the sequence is "general adjective + specific adjective + noun" whereas standard English goes "specific adjective + general adjective + noun". An example is "red cut chillies" (Singlish) and "cut red chillies" (Standard English).

Nothing illustrates your point on the English Teacher better than the film "The English Patient". It should be spoken with the accent on "English" as that was the characteristic which distinguished the titular patient from all others.

The Grammar Terrorist said...

Thanks, Vinodh, for your interesting insights. As for 'The English Patient', I guess you meant contrastive stress?