"Do you do Taco Hell?" / "bus" as non-count n.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 9 20:32:08 UTC 2006

At 8:17 AM -0500 12/9/06, David Bowie wrote:
>From:    "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>>"ride bus", "drive truck", and "ride bike" are still another type of
>>case, and i'm not sure at the moment what the right thing to say
>>about them is, though my first guess was that they're related in some
>>way to object-incorporating compounds like "bus-riding", "truck-
>>driving" (and "truck-driver"), etc.; the idea would be that "ride
>>bus" arises from interpreting "bus-riding" as the "-ing" form of a
>>verb "bus-ride" (N+V), which in turn can be seen as a compound
>>version of the syntactic V+Object combination "ride bus".  if
>>something like this is right, "bus" (etc.) are just count nouns in
>>their bare form, as is standard in N+X compounds (even when the N is
>>understood as having plural semantics, as in "bird house" 'house for
>>birds' etc.).
>With my standard disclaimer that I Am Admittedly Clueless When It Comes
>To Syntactic Analysis, i'm a ride bus/bike/truck[/and even occasionally
>car!] speaker, and i've always thought that "ride bus" was a compound
>word. For one thing (re-insert disclaimer here), i can't think of a
>sentence containing "ride X" where you could insert a word between the
>two parts of the construction.
That would also be true if it's an incorporation.  The analysis as a
compound is somewhat thrown into doubt by the stress pattern and the
headedness--"ride bus" is not a kind of bus (compare:  "That was a
long bus ride", which is a kind of ride and which is stressed on the
first element.  I think "I ride bus" is a variant on "I bus(-)ride",
where the latter is stressed on the first element and is a verb (and
resists interruption).  If "ride bus" were a true compound verb,
you'd expect the past tense to be "I ride-bussed", as in "I
stir-fried the veggies".  And it's certainly not a compound noun.  I
think it's a weird verb phrase, to introduce a technical term.


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