Complex nominal of the year

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I recently got a note from the Philadelphia chapter of the Acoustical Society of America, informing me that the November meeting will held at a location identified as the "Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division Machinery Silencing Complex".

I'm pretty sure that this is the longest English complex nominal  that I've encountered so far this year, but unfortunately I'll be out of town on the date in question, so I won't be able to see the actual referent.



  1. DCBob said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 11:54 am

    Wouldn't that sound better in the original German? Marineoberflächenkriegszentrumstadtderbrüderlichenliebeeinteilungmaschinenstummschaltungskomplex, perhaps?

  2. Suzanne Valkemirer said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

    In 1926, Steven T. Byington bemoaned the increasing use of attributive nouns at the expense of clarity ("The Attributive Noun Becomes Cancerous." American Speech, vol. 2, no. 1, October 1926, pp. 34-38).

    He would probably find no words to describe the extent of the phenomenon today.

  3. Breffni said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 12:37 pm

    He would probably find no words to describe the extent of the phenomenon today

    He could call it the twenty-first century English attributive noun pile-up metastasisation crisis.

  4. MattF said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 12:51 pm

    I suggest spending an afternoon with the DICNAVAB if you're looking for long names.

  5. Benjamin E. Orsatti said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 2:47 pm

    @DCBob: That, indeed, qualifies as "awesomeness". The translation of "Philadelphia" from Greek to German was the pièce de résistance.

    Interesting phenomenon here. I immediately thought of the 17th century writing convention, whereby writers would head their chapters, e.g.:"In Which the Details of the literary Convention 'In Which a Trope Is Described" will be Disseminated'"( Nowadays, maybe we would say instead, "Trope Description Literary Convention Detail Dissemination Chapter".

  6. Bob Ladd said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 3:30 pm

    @ Benjamin Orsatti: Maybe DCBob translated Philadelphia from Greek to German because "Philadelphia" in modern German tends to mean "(American) cream cheese".

  7. DaveL said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 6:57 pm

    Perhaps the meeting was sponsored by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division Propulsion, Power and Auxiliary Machinery Systems Department?

  8. Gregory Kusnick said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 7:28 pm

    One can't help wondering how centralized the Naval Surface Warfare Center can be if it has a Philadelphia Division.

  9. David Marjanović said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 7:56 pm

    As a native speaker of German, I can only applaud.

    And yes, Philadelphia is a brand name for some kind of ghastly milk product.

  10. ardj said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 8:02 pm

    Yes, yes, maybe it's a little unwieldy as a destination, but Professor Lieberman could surely send a runner with a tape recorder (or some more advanced equipment, what do I know ?) to make sure that none of the proceedings can actually be heard.

  11. David Morris said,

    November 2, 2018 @ 8:09 pm

    @ardj: It's only the machinery that must be silent, not the proceedings.

  12. Christian Weisgerber said,

    November 3, 2018 @ 4:45 pm

    My go-to example for a complex English nominal is Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, which pops up with some regularity on, a website reporting on combat sports.

  13. BobW said,

    November 3, 2018 @ 8:25 pm

    Cone of Silence?

  14. AKA said,

    November 5, 2018 @ 10:16 am

    Or, as the Navy would call it, NAVSURFWARCENTPHILDIVMACHSICOM.

  15. KeithB said,

    November 5, 2018 @ 6:58 pm

    I wonder if these centers are for navy folks who don't like the water. There is one in Corona, California, too.

  16. Robert Coren said,

    November 5, 2018 @ 8:32 pm

    @KeithB: Are you under the impression that there's no water in Philadelphia? I visited the Philadelphia waterfront just yesterday.

  17. KeithB said,

    November 6, 2018 @ 11:13 am

    OK, how about don't like the *ocean*? Man I should have put in a smiley.

    I was just in Columbus, GA, and along with the excellent Infantry museum has the Confederate Naval Museum. Though considering that the Confederate Navy was mainly confined to rivers, I guess it fits.

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