Quick cup of COCA – compound words

A new quick cup of coca post, whayhay. Thanks to Mike Harrison (@harrisonmike) on Twitter who was asking about finding compound adjectives.

Here we can use wildcard asterix, with part of speech.

So say we were looking for adjectives starting with well, we could use [well-*].[j*] to give the following top ten results –

WELL-KNOWN, WELL-ESTABLISHED, WELL-MEANING, WELL-DEFINED, WELL-EDUCATED, WELL-TO-DO, WELL-TRAINED, WELL-DRESSED, WELL-DOCUMENTED, WELL-INTENTIONED
(click on words to see full search results)

To find all compound adjectives we would simply replace the first part of the compound with another wildcard asterix like so:

[*-*].[j*]

which gives us the following top 10 results:

LONG-TERM, SO-CALLED, AFRICAN-AMERICAN, FULL-TIME, SHORT-TERM, WELL-KNOWN, HIGH-TECH, OLD-FASHIONED, MIDDLE-CLASS, PART-TIME
(click on words to see full search results)

Similarly if you were looking for noun, adverb or verb compounds simply add the appropriate POS tag i.e. [n*], [r*] and [v*] respectively.

Note do double-check result in concordance lines as sometimes the POS tagging is off.

As an interesting aside a search for compound adjectives historically in COHA gives us a very nice ascending curve. Wonder what the significance of that is?

COHA-compound_adj
Compound adjectives over time in COHA (click on graph)

Finally do check out the previous quick cup of coca posts if you want help with searching in COCA.

10 thoughts on “Quick cup of COCA – compound words

  1. Hi Mura,
    Silly question, but….. How do you get COCA to sort first to the right? It didn’t work when I tried.

    1. hi Geoff you can only sort in the KWIC mode, and in there you will see that it sorts 1 word to right as default.

      otherwise click on the the sorting box to do other sortings and press re-sort

      let me know how u get on

      ta
      mura

  2. Add a “whoo-hoo” to the “whayhay” for this one! I haven’t tried this type of hyphenated search before but now you’ve raised my consciousness, I may just have to give it a whirl😉

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