J Y S Czhang <[log in to unmask]> writes:

>     What about languages that have both head-first and head-final "options"
> in their compoundings (i.e. English is notorious for this in its borrowings
> from French... also in "technobabble" and brandnames)? I guess that falls
> more under idiomatic usage than anything else...

One should also take into account the restrictions on
which parts of speech can be compounded with which, and
what's the result (semantically speaking). It might be
useful to list the compound classes. For example, English
has a class of <noun><verb>-er/-ing compounds (e.g.
"peacemaker", "groundbreaking"), plus noun-noun compounds,
are the absolutely useful adjective/noun-adjective -- as
in "red hot" or "cold contagious" (I remember blinking a
few times before getting the meaning of the latter).

Spanish (and probably French and Italian, but I stand ready
to be swiftly corrected) don't have a way to do the
adj/noun-adj thing, and many of the other classes use
a prepositional phrase or a derivational suffix. But they
have a common pattern of verb-noun compounds where the
verb is in the 3rd person singular and the noun in the
plural, even though the compound is a singular noun, as
in |sacacorchos| ("corkscrew", lit. "removes-corks"),
|guardabarros| ("keeps-(from)-mud(pl.)"), |paracaídas|
("stops-falls"), |guardapolvos|, |cortaplumas|, |paraguas|,
|parachoques|, |matamoscas|, |sacabocados|, |rompeportones|,
and a lot more. In fact, I can't think of any native
compounds of another class in Spanish. There's at least
one I remember that is head-last, but I think it's a loan:
|autoparte| ("car-part" = a mechanical piece of a car).

Now that I think of it, there are a few more possible classes
that I might as well exploit for my own language...

--Pablo Flores