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Derived Compound Adjectives: gesunkenes Kulturgut?

Compound adjectives of the type user-friendly and print-ready are common in everyday speech and writing and form a productive derivational category. They are the product of inversions of phrases which have the second element of the compound originally first and the first second, separated by a preposition; thus friendly to/for (the) user(s) and ready to print are what is presupposed in the hyphenated compound adjective.

The productivity of this derivational type was demonstrated by the nonce coinage in dialogue by the British executive of a pharmaceutical company, being interviewed on the BBC World Service (“Global Business,” January, 14, 2011), of the neologisms blockbuster-capable and blockbuster-dependent in speaking about the business outlook for the production of high-selling drugs.

This kind of neologism is perhaps to be viewed as the nascent exploitation of the proto-Germanic patrimony in English. Whereas this derivational pattern has long been common in German, the structural typology undergirding both languages remained unexploited in English in this respect until the last thirty or forty years when––under the evident influence of advertising formulas striving for compactness like doctor-tested––it has become part of the productive core of contemporary word formation.


[Postscript, January 16, 2011: After writing this post I received an e-mail message from the trumpet virtuoso, composer, and conductor Jason Gamer, in which he used the (nonce) word conversation-ready –– M.S.]

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