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In our 1992 chapter "The stress and structure of modified noun phrases in English" (in Sag & Szabolcsi, Lexical Matters), Richard Sproat and I noted that the normal order in English puts a nominal modifier before its head, but "there are some cases where it appears to be necessary to assume that the head of the construction is on the left and the modifier is on the right". We gave the examples

vitamin C, route 1, brand X, exit 14, peach Melba, steak diane, Cafe Beethoven, Club Med

My email address and cell phone number have recently found their way onto some political contact lists. And as a result, I get dozens of messages a day from Team X, where X is some politician's name: Team Trump, Team Joe, Team Warren, Team Collins, …

This led me to wonder about the history of the Team NAME construction. I'm not sure that I've got it right, so please explain in the comments what I've missed or misunderstood.

The construction seems to have started with the name for the Canadian national hockey team, where "Team Canada" was probably a calque for the French "Équipe Canada" — similar to the French influence on many of the left-headed food names. Wikipedia says that

The nickname "Team Canada" was first used for the 1972 Summit Series and has been frequently used to refer to both the Canadian national men's and women's teams ever since.

Over the next 10 or 15 years, the construction came to be used for other nationalities and other sports, e.g. this 1/1/1987 headline from the Shreveport Journal:

And of course the sports metaphor was applied to business groups, as in this from Newsweek in 1986:

The first thing to know about the new Team Disney is that these guys like to work. Hard.

The next stage seems to have involved the Buffyverse, with groups of fictional characters working together named after their leader, like Team Spike. And then in the Twilight Saga fandom, phrases like Team Jacob came to be used for fans who prefer one competing character or another.

So the political applications are apparently a blend of the Team Canada, Team Disney, Team Spike, and Team Jacob interpretations — take your pick.





  1. Robert Coren said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:19 am

    "Team Canada" was probably a calque for the French "Équipe Canada"

    This echoes a thought I had when I read the list of other examples, that "Café Beethoven" (which is to say, "Café X" generally) probably derives from French usage.

  2. zheng-sheng zhang said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:23 am

    What about place names? Things like X north/south/west/east, where X is a place name?

    Curious at San Diego State University

    Zheng-sheng Zhang

  3. Andreas Johansson said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:32 am

    Is there any significance to the fact that Biden's is Team FIRSTNAME and the others Team LASTNAME? Trying for folksiness or something?

  4. Doug said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 11:04 am

    The popularity of "Team X" may have gotten a boost from the military use of the "team X" construction, and the 1987 publication of Harold Coyle's novel, "Team Yankee."

    Wikipedia notes, "Team Yankee ("Y" in the ICAO and NATO phonetic alphabet) is an armor-heavy company-sized unit (a "Team" in Army parlance). "

  5. Rick said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 11:25 am

    After Buffy, but before Twilight, this construction intruded on the real world with Team Anniston and Team Jolie for competing supporters of Brad Pitt's competing love interests. (2005)

  6. stephen reeves said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 11:40 am

    Also river names in North America , Thames River in Ontario ,River Thames in England etc

  7. Alexander Browne said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:00 pm

    And some lakes, small ones to the Great Lakes, such as Lake Superior. For many, like the Great Lakes, again presumably from the French name. But others don't have an original French name. In Minneapolis we have both, such as Powderhorn Lake and Lake Harriet. The latter was not from a French name.

    [(myl) See pages 159-160 of the cited 1992 chapter for a discussion of many other similar examples.]

  8. Ernie in Berkeley said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:20 pm

    I've always been amused at the name of a location in San Francisco: Fort Point. Is it a fort or a point? There is a fort there, and it's on a point of land jutting into the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge.

  9. Garrett Wollman said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 12:58 pm

    Related perhaps to the origin story is a notable cross-pondial difference: in the particular flavor of BrE that is used to talk about sporting events, the national team of country X is just bare "X" — e.g., "Canada drew Finland two all" or "England manager John Bull described the defeat as 'unfortunate'." AmE and CanE rarely do this, preferring "Team Nameofcountry" or "the Ethnonyms" or "the Ethnonym-ADJ team".

  10. Bob Ladd said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 2:00 pm

    @Ernie in Berkeley: Isn't there a slight stress difference between the two interpretations? If Fort Point is a fort, "Fort" would (I think) have less stress or be slightly shorter (or something) than if it's a point. I'm pretty sure Lisa Selkirk made the same observation with the phrase "Lake Hill" – if it's a hill, then "Lake" is a bit longer (again, "or something") than if it's a lake. If that grammatical/prosodic generalisation is valid, then things like "Team Canada" ought to have the same reduced stress on "Team" – though it's hard to make the comparison, because the other grammatical interpretation of "Team Canada" doesn't make any sense (Team Canada can only be a team, not a Canada).

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 2:12 pm

    Garrett — are you sure about "Canada drew Finland two all" in <Br.E> ? I ask because in my idiolect it would have to be "Canada drew against Finland two all"; similarly "X lost to Y", but "Y beat Z" (no preposition in only the last of the three cases).

  12. Doug said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 4:47 pm

    I don't think anyone here has mentioned the earlier Team X Language Log thread:

  13. AntC said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 5:11 pm

    Re numeric Cardinals (route 1, exit 14), I guess that's to distinguish from a quantity qualifier: one route, fourteen exits.

    To say first route or fourteenth exit wouldn't be telegraphic enough for giving directions.

    Most of Mark's other examples are foodies' expressions, so as others have commented, I hear French influence. Trying to sound sophisticated, innit.

  14. DaveK said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 6:02 pm

    There’s also the European custom of labeling (I guess semi-official) radio stations Radio Moscow, Radio Berlin, Radio Luxembourg, etc.
    And remember Radio Free Europe back in the Cold War?

  15. CuConnacht said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 6:19 pm

    As far as I know, it is always X Mountain but always Mount X.

  16. DaveK said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 6:23 pm

    @Zheng-sheng Zheng:
    In geographical names, at least in the US, the directional modifier comes first: North Dakota, East Los Angeles, The exception is branches of institutions. San Diego State might have a satellite called San Diego State North. When it’s used with the names of places, it’s usually refers to the culture or inhabitants of one place being prevalent in another: e.g. Hollywood East- a town with a movie industry.

  17. maidhc said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 7:46 pm

    The Canadian government often tries for terms that are the same or at least similar in both French and English, such as Revenue Canada and Environment Canada. Notice also in the Wikipedia article "The team is overseen by Hockey Canada, a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation."

    The idea behind the original Team Canada in 1972 was to put together a team of players from professional NHL teams to take on the Russian national team, who competed as amateurs although that was really fiction. So the team represented the country rather than their home cities as in the NHL.

    In addition to Fort Point, San Francisco also had Fort Alcatraz, Fort Mason, Fort Funston and others. Confusingly, Fort Point, the fort, is located on Fort Point, the point. It was also called the Fort at Fort Point. There was also Fort Point San José.

    There were also a number of camps, all called Camp X (e.g., "Camp Yerba Buena Island"). Batteries were mostly called Battery X ("Battery McClellan", "Battery Lands End"), but a few X Battery as well ("Black Point Battery"). So the naming convention seems to have been popular with the US military, back to pre-Civil War days.

    There is Lake Tahoe, Lake Shasta, but Crater Lake. Point Lobos, Cape Mendocino. And on the east coast, Cape Cod, Cape Hatteras, etc.

  18. Andrew Usher said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 8:26 pm

    Philip Taylor:
    I wouldn't expect a preposition after 'drew'. Of course America doesn't use that much in terms of sporting events, but I know it and would consider 'drew against' a little odd. With our common term, 'tie', the preposition wouldn't be used either, and unless we're talking about equal scores in an individual sport, It's more usually phrased as 'X and Y tied'. I don't know why tie/draw behaves differently from 'win' and 'lose'.

    Bod Ladd:
    Yes, of course, in 'Team X' the stress is always on the second element, not on 'Team', in agreement with your generalisation. In fact, for modifier compounds, we almost always prefer final stress, regardless of order – that's why 'Fort Point' is ambiguous. For 'Lake' and other geographical descriptors, the native English rule would seem to be putting the name first if it can be seen as an adjective, second if a noun – the usual modifier-head order. But there's been change over time, and ossification with certain words is not surprising, e.g. in the US we now always put 'River' second – but, again, still stress it simply because of its position.

    k_over_hbarc at

  19. John from Cincinnati said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 8:39 pm

    The OP question was narrowly about the specific word "team" and the perceived recency of "team NAME" distinct from "the NAME team". It did mention non-"team" cases of "HEAD MODIFIER", and commenters have run with that, providing other "HEAD MODIFIER" examples (not all of which are foodie expressions that are possibly French-influenced). With rivers, counties, royal dynastic houses we see both orderings, and the choice is typically idiomatic. So, is it really a rule "that the normal order in English puts a nominal modifier before its head"? Or is that just observer bias?

    [(myl) You can read the cited chapter for an extensive survey of the situation. As for the norms of modifier-noun order in English, would you care to place a wager on the relative frequency of MODIFIER NOUN vs. NOUN MODIFIER order in English text and/or speech (where MODIFIER is a single word, not e.g. a relative clause)? ]

  20. L'Homme Armé said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 9:09 pm

    Another example of putting modifiers after the head is with English football teams. Most have names that are ______ FC or ______ AFC, but some put the abbreviation first such as F.C. Elmstead and A.F.C. Bournemouth. A lot the teams putting the abbreviation first are pretty recent, but some of them predate "Team Canada".

  21. Fcb said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 9:16 pm

    Canada drew with Finland, when it is a tie.
    Canada drew [against] Finland, when it's a drawing for the next round of a competition.

  22. Andrew Usher said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 9:39 pm

    No, in the second case (drawing who to play in a future round) the preposition would be impossible. For the result, either 'with' or nothing (or possibly 'against') sound OK to me.

  23. S. Valkemirer said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 9:47 pm

    The English name Club Med comes from the French name Club Med, which is shortened from the official name of the company, Club Méditerranée SA, which has the order required by French grammar.

    The order could have been reversed in English (*Med Club), but it was not.

    In contrast, the French la tour Eiffel was translated with reversal of the elements: the Eiffel Tower.

  24. J.W. Brewer said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 9:53 pm

    For an earlyish political usage, the bibliography of a book published late in the last century says that there was a January 1995 magazine story (in a publication called National Journal) titled "Team Gingrich."

    I couldn't find (although I don't have ready access to as wide a range of corpora as would make a null result all that meaningful) anything from circa 1988 for "Team Dukakis" in English. But I did find this in German: "Bentsen soll offensichtlich das Team Dukakis ' ausbalancieren ." But for all I know "Team" in this context just means what we would indicate in English by "ticket."

  25. Thomas Rees said,

    November 2, 2020 @ 10:51 pm

    “Thomas John” at November 2, 2020 @ 9:00 pm is spam

  26. Keith said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 1:24 am

    I'm really glad to read this post. The subject has been tickling my brain for a couple of years, since I noticed how many official bodies had started using the "head left, modifier right" construction.

    I noticed it first in the name "Health Canada", and immediately wondered if it was influenced by French.

    Then I noticed it in "Museums Sheffield", which describes itself as having been founded in 1998 as "an independent charity to take over the running of the city’s non-industrial museums and galleries from Sheffield City Council".

    Then it popped up again in "Public Health England".

  27. Keith said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 1:26 am

    Oh, I just remembered another one, whose name is mentioned on the radio just about every five minutes, these days: Santé publique France.

  28. Michael Watts said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 2:05 am

    "there are some cases where it appears to be necessary to assume that the head of the construction is on the left and the modifier is on the right". We gave the examples

    vitamin C, route 1, brand X, exit 14, peach Melba, steak diane, Cafe Beethoven, Club Med

    My immediate instinct is that these things don't belong in the same list. I think these are three different constructions, and the list even goes so far as to segregate them from each other, which suggests to me that MYL and Richard Sproat probably thought something similar.

    1. vitamin C, route 1, brand X, exit 14

    These strike me as being normal grammatical English, in which a term for something is made by applying a designator to the category the thing is drawn from. Vitamin C is the third vitamin. Route 1 is the first route. Brand X is a brand the details of which we are glossing over. Exit 14 is the 14th exit. These are all choosing a particular instance from a conceptually finite list of possibilities.

    My analysis for this group differs from AntC's; I think these are regular constructions produced by a syntactic rule.

    2. peach Melba, steak Diane

    I see these as being ungrammatical English parallel to "surgeon general". I would consider myself in agreement with everyone else who is saying, in my rephrase, "this is French, not English".

    3. Cafe Beethoven, Club Med

    I don't see these as being left-headed. In my eyes, Cafe Beethoven is structurally equivalent to e.g. The Horse and Pig: it's a name for a restaurant (cafe / bar / tavern / whatever); that the name includes cafe is, grammatically, just a coincidence.

    [(myl) With respect to your last point, there are quite different tendencies for different types of eating and drinking establishment. "Café X" is common (though far from universal), but "Restaurant X", "Tavern X", "Diner X", "Bar X", "Bakery X", etc. are not. Thus Philadelphia has Café Lift and Café Square One as well as Luna Café and Ants Pants Café — and any of them might have chosen the opposite order. But it would be unexpected to see the left-headed order in the names of establishments like Khyber Pass Pub, Grace Tavern, Good Dog Bar, Prohibition Taproom, DelMar Lounge, etc. There's a correlated difference in whether a definite article is likely to be used: the Khyber Pass Pub or the Good Dog Bar, but probably not "*the Café Square One.

    As for the general point about the diversity of the apparently left-headed phrases, see pages 159-160 of the cited chapter.]

  29. Bob Ladd said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 2:07 am

    Andrew Usher: I think you missed my point. Yes, in all of these the main stress is on the second element. But my suggestion was (and this was the observation that Selkirk made about "Lake Hill") that "Fort Point" isn't normally ambiguous in its spoken form. Even though the main stress is certainly on Point (or Hill, in Selkirk's example), there's a subtle difference in the pronunciation of Fort depending on the meaning: it's somehow a little quicker or shorter if it's a Fort named Point than if it's a Point named Fort. The difference is difficult to describe (and difficult to fit into a simple theory of how stress works), but I think it's real.

  30. Luke said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 3:49 am

    The construction doesn't strike me as particularly odd, especially growing up in New England. Mount Monadnock, Lake Winnipesaukee…and on a tangential note I could always tell an outsider when they said NEW Haven instead of new HAven.

  31. Philip Taylor said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 4:34 am

    Regarding "draw", in my mind I can hear both "X drew against Y" and "X drew with Y", but the former implies (to me, at least) that X was playing at home whilst the latter is neutral in that respect. In the sense of "was selected at random to play against", it works for me only in the passive voice ("X was drawn [to play] against Y").

  32. Rose Eneri said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 8:37 am

    I have comments related to my local environment, Naples, Florida.

    The lone expressway, Interstate 75, numbers its exits according to the nearest mile-marker. So, Exit 101 is at mile-marker 101. The next exit, 4 miles north, is Exit 105. So, Exit 101 is not the hundred and first exit, it is located 101 miles from the start of the expressway (near Miami).

    Locally, the old highway (Route 41) is called Tamiami Trail because it runs from Tampa to Miami. We have a problem using direction apps because many local addresses use a street name of Tamiami Trail North or Tamiami Trail South. The problem arises because the app analyses "Tamiami Trail North, Naples" as "Tamiami Trail, North Naples" and looses its mind.

  33. Robert Coren said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 10:31 am

    There's a street in Gloucester (or Rockport, I'm not sure – it's near the border) named Lane Road. However, the first part of the name is not, as it might appear, a designation for a thoroughfare; the street is named in honor of the painter Fitzhugh Lane, who lived in the vicinity.

  34. Dan T. said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 11:18 am

    Contestants on the reality competition show The Voice are grouped in teams by their celebrity coach, named like "Team Kelly" and "Team Blake".

    As noted in some comments above, geographical indicators like "North" are usually prefixed rather than suffixed in the US, like "North Dakota" and "Southwest 18th Street", but there are occasional exceptions like "Park Avenue South" in Manhattan. I think the UK is more prone to suffixing compass directions in things like names of parliamentary districts and transit stops.

  35. Ernie in Berkeley said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 1:55 pm

    @Bob Ladd et al, I don't see a stress difference between "Fort" and "Point" in Fort Point. You're right that there is one in "Fort Funston", with "Funston" being stressed. On Long Island, where I grew up, Montauk Point also has equal stress on both words.

  36. Alexander Browne said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 2:35 pm

    In St Paul (MN) there is Como Lake, named after … Lake Como.

  37. Ken said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 3:07 pm

    To build on what Rose Eneri said, I think of "route 1", "exit 12", and "vitamin C" as labeling. We have a collection of similar things, and we attach a label to each to distinguish them. The labels are numbers, letters, or mixed ("exit 12B" and "vitamin B-12"). Other examples would be police cars ("Car 54, where are you") and fire stations.

  38. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 7:02 pm

    "Team Lotus were almost off the ground with pride, having two Lotus 49 cars with Cosworth 3-litre V8 engines," from July1967, as seen in this article from Motorsport. Google Books appears to be broken but is hinting at examples a few years earlier. Like other commenters, I suspect Continental European influence. There's no other Team X in the article, but Scuderia Ferrari is mentioned.

  39. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 3, 2020 @ 7:42 pm

    "Everywhere Team Lotus goes, it goes as a favorite." Popular Science, May 1965.

  40. Rodger C said,

    November 4, 2020 @ 7:52 am

    My previous college named a street after a former president, K. C. East. The Postal Service, evidently observing that K. C. East Drive wasn't particularly to the east of anything, renamed it KC Lane, causing some indignation. I note that it's now on maps with its original name.

  41. Robert Coren said,

    November 4, 2020 @ 10:21 am

    @Rodger C: I live on West Street. (Actually, I live at the corner of West Street and West Place.) I'm pretty sure it's named after somebody named West. I'm not aware of an East Street, North Street, or South Street in this city.¹

    ¹Although there is a North Street in one neighboring city, and a South Street in another one, and, purely by coincidence, those cities are more or less north and south, respectively, of the one where I live.

  42. BobW said,

    November 4, 2020 @ 10:10 pm

    When I lived in Indianapolis I was amused by there being both a North East St and an East North St.

  43. Rebecca said,

    November 4, 2020 @ 10:58 pm

    Regarding definite articles: There’s plenty of room at the Hotel California

    [(myl) Good point! A complex morphosyntactic map in this neighborhood…]

  44. Barbara Wills said,

    November 5, 2020 @ 1:53 pm

    @Rodger C: In the 1980s I lived in West Hollywood (CA) on a street called North West Knoll Drive. The street runs north-south and has neighboring streets North Westbourne and North Westmount. Whoever originally decided the street name should be two separate words (instead of one word, like the others) obviously had an inflated opinion of the intelligence of the US Postal Service, since to this day it is still designated by the USPS, and on maps, as "NW Knoll Dr." It simultaneously infuriates me and breaks my heart.

  45. Dara Connolly said,

    November 5, 2020 @ 6:27 pm

    Counties in Ireland are referred to as "County X" (County Longford, County Antrim, etc.) and not "X County". In England, County Durham follows the same pattern.

    Similarly for "River X" – "The River Liffey", not "Liffey River".

  46. Andrew Usher said,

    November 6, 2020 @ 8:38 pm

    Yes, as I said there are idiosyncrasies like that but the original pattern they descend from must have been the one I enunciated. The order doesn't affect use of the definite article (or not), nor the fact that more stress is placed on the second element.

    'County Durham' is an exception because English counties aren't generally called using the word 'county' at all – whether or not they have the ending -shire. I'm not sure why Americans say 'X County' but I suspect it comes from written usage.

  47. Michael Watts said,

    November 7, 2020 @ 5:54 am

    there are quite different tendencies for different types of eating and drinking establishment. "Café X" is common (though far from universal), but "Restaurant X", "Tavern X", "Diner X", "Bar X", "Bakery X", etc. are not.

    True enough, but I don't see how this demonstrates that "Café X" is a left-headed noun phrase. We have to say that Kentucky Fried Chicken / Taco Bell / Dairy Queen are all headless; none of those words identifies the type of noun we're talking about. Why do we think that other names aren't headless? In the phrase "Michael Watts", is "Michael" the head, or is "Watts"?

    I don't really think that names aren't headless, actually — what I think is that, on a syntactic level, names are single words, so that the head of "Michael Watts" is "Michael Watts". But I certainly don't think it's "Michael" or "Watts"; and similarly if we insist that "Taco Bell" is two words, neither can be the head.

  48. Michael Watts said,

    November 7, 2020 @ 5:56 am

    I don't really think that names aren't headless, actually

    Should say "I don't really think that names are headless".

  49. Andrew Usher said,

    November 7, 2020 @ 9:22 pm

    I think you'd have some trouble with the view that full names are single words. Both components can be used as synonyms for the whole, and what about middle or other additional names? Which form then would be the 'head'?

    If you consider the historical developement of European surnames, the given name is the head with the surname the modifier specifying which one. But that doesn't really represent modern practice well.

    On the other hand the head of 'Taco Bell' is certainly 'Bell' as the referent is, metaphorically, a bell and not possibly a taco.

  50. Michael Watts said,

    November 8, 2020 @ 5:20 am

    Both components can be used as synonyms for the whole, and what about middle or other additional names? Which form then would be the 'head'?

    I don't think this is difficult? The head is the name, whatever form of it appears. If you refer to "Michael", the head of that phrase is the single word "Michael". If you refer to "Michael Watts", for reasons of formality or disambiguation, the head of that phrase is the single word "Michael Watts". If you were to refer to "the inestimable Michael Watts", the head of that phrase would be "Michael Watts". In "Marvin A. Mooney, will you please go now", the head of the vocative phrase is "Marvin A. Mooney".

    On the other hand the head of 'Taco Bell' is certainly 'Bell' as the referent is, metaphorically, a bell and not possibly a taco.

    I do not believe this, just as I do not believe that the name Kentucky Fried Chicken refers to chicken. Both refer to restaurants.

  51. Michael Watts said,

    November 8, 2020 @ 5:25 am

    Putting things another way:

    As far as I see it, what parts of a name are separable or abbreviable, what names a person or thing may have, and what names or forms of names are appropriate or inappropriate in certain contexts, are all important facts about a culture. But they are not facts about a grammar, even the grammar of the language spoken by that culture. Grammatically, names are opaque blobs, and our term for such objects is "words".

  52. Gregory Kusnick said,

    November 8, 2020 @ 12:24 pm

    "Kentucky fried chicken" doesn't seem especially opaque; it refers to a comestible (chicken) of a particular flavor or style (Kentucky fried), and by metonymy to the establishment that serves it.

    Taco Bell is in fact named for its founder, Glen Bell, and thus arguably follows the pattern of "peach Melba" and "steak Diane".

  53. Andrew Usher said,

    November 8, 2020 @ 8:12 pm

    Well, neither of us knew that about Taco Bell; I simply used the fact that their logo is now a bell to conclude that we should think of the name as one. But certainly, still, it's not a taco: I don't believe 'Taco Bell' ever was understood as a style of taco in the way that 'Kentucky Fried Chicken' could be understood as a style of chicken.

    Michael Watts's point that many names, including personal names in their usual form, ought to be considered grammatical atoms seems reasonable, but it certainly doesn't apply to all names, even all names of a given class, as this opposition between 'Kentucky Fried Chicken' (clearly a phrase) and 'Taco Bell' (unclear) illustrates.

    However, considering them one word is going too far, because they are not treated as such in pronunciation; with relatively few exceptions, names are spoken like a phrase containing the same structure as is written.

  54. Michael Watts said,

    November 9, 2020 @ 7:21 am

    Michael Watts's point that many names, including personal names in their usual form, ought to be considered grammatical atoms seems reasonable, but it certainly doesn't apply to all names, even all names of a given class, as this opposition between 'Kentucky Fried Chicken' (clearly a phrase) and 'Taco Bell' (unclear) illustrates.

    I think it does apply to all names. The syntactic operations you can perform on a name are precisely those you can perform on a grammatical atom. I would say that "Kentucky Fried Chicken" is derived from a phrase, but is, in its use as a name, no longer that phrase.

    Similarly, "Michael" is derived from the full Hebrew sentence "who is like God?", but in its use now is only a name, grammatically opaque, and in its use then was also only a name, grammatically opaque even though the derivation was transparent, as it isn't currently for Michael and is currently for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    However, considering them one word is going too far, because they are not treated as such in pronunciation

    "Word" is a standard term used in a few different senses at different levels of analysis. It refers generally to something which is atomic in a relevant sense. Thus, "throw away" is a lexical word in that it requires a dictionary entry separate from those for "throw" and "away"; by other metrics, it can reasonably be considered two words.

    Of particular interest to your argument above is the phenomenon of clitics, which are obviously words in a lexical and grammatical sense, but which are not words in a phonological sense; unlike most lexical words, clitics do not have their own pronunciation, but act, for phonological purposes, as part of a nearby word. The phrase "an elephant" is grammatically two words and phonologically one word. Is it then a mistake to say that "a(n)" is a word? Is it a mistake to say that it isn't?

    This is why my original comment stated that "on a syntactic level, names are single words".

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