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Nounal - gosh!

Posted by Lotg on May 15, 2003

In Reply to: Nounal posted by TheFallen on May 14, 2003

: : : : : : : : "Coal-mine subsidence means the collapse of an underground coal mine resulting in damage to a surface structure."

: : : : : : : : I made "coal mine" (the noun) two words because that's the way the United Mine Workers do it. I hyphenated "coal-mine" (the adjective) using the compound modifier rule in the AP Stylebook. Am I right or wrong?

: : : : : : : It's certainly the way I would have done it - so we're either both right, or ....

: : : : : : I think we're right. I have some engineers editing my copy (heaven help me).

: : : : : Pairs of nouns like coal and mine usually have a relationship which evolves with time. As they get closer, they are joined together by a hyphen. If the relationship endures, they combine to form a single compound word.

: : : : : As there is no formal announcement of a change in status, there may well be differing opinions on the relationship of two words at a particular time, a conservative one representing the past and a more progressive one representing the future. Rather than describe your spelling as right or wrong, it may be better to describe it as conservative or progressive.

: : : : : In either case, it is better to be consistent throughout your piece. I don't understand why you define coal-mine as an adjective.

: : : : She didn't define it as an adjective. In the sample sentence, "coal mine" appears first in adjectival use, where it's properly hyphenated, and later in nounal use, where it's properly not hyphenated. Consistency doesn't mean hyphenating a compound every time (or not hyphenating it every time) regardless of how the compound functions in the structure of the sentence.

: : : Does this word (nounal) actually exist? I always thought it was "nominal"...

: : Yep.
: : Amer. Heritage Dict. gives "nounal" as an adjective under the main entry for "noun." Guess what? It also gives an adverb, "nounally."

: I'm happy to take your word for this. The online Am. Her. Dict. and my shamefully limited edition of the OED don't feature "nounal", but I did find it in an online Websters. I'm of the opinion that it may be an extremely rare though clearly permissible variant, and so idly decided to googlefight it against a few other contenders from the same school to see how unusual it is. It'd clearly be unfair to pitch "nounal" against "nominal" (almost 3 million hits), because of the latter's other meanings, but the following results may be of some mild interest:

: Nounal - 232 hits
: Nounally - 21 hits

: Pronounal - 43 hits
: Pronounally - 0 hits

: Pronominal - 26,500 hits
: Pronominally - 372 hits

: Adjectival - 38,000 hits
: Adjectivally - 2,220 hits

: Adverbial - 55,900 hits
: Adverbially - 4,040 hits

: Prepositional -59,400 hits
: Prepositionally - 304 hits

: At this stage I got bored, so didn't do verbal for obvious reasons, nor interjectional, nor conjunctional/conjunctive/conjunctival.

:: Gosh, I feel so simple. Here was I thinking that coal (in this case) was an adjective and mine was the noun. And this nounal thing... I love this website!!!!