Both languages do it: a sequence of nothing but nouns for the sake of brevity or to make a snappy title or newspaper headline. Like the one above. The order in English is generally not the same as the Dutch equivalent though.
A tricky one for non-natives to get the feel for, I suspect. And it’s one of the most widely-occurring and frequent mistakes in my entire list. A biggie. Tricky because you don’t create a noun stack by dropping all the small words from “the order of a stack of nouns”. So how do you get it right?
- The main subject, the noun that hasn’t been made to serve as a sort of pseudo-possessive or pseudo-adjective, goes at the end. (Unlike the Dutch, where it tends to come first: Volgorde stapels naamwoorden.)
- You can see that in the above example if we swap the possessives and adjectives in: nominal stacks’ order or nouns’ stacking order (both ugly and clunky, but you get the picture).
- Plurals (other than the main subject) disappear. There are lots of nouns, but it’s not a nouns stack order.
- the correct English order is often more like what you would get if you invented a single big compound word in Dutch, such as naamwoordstapelvolgorde
- Some real-world examples:
- advice caries prevention => caries prevention advice, or expand it to “advice about”
- manager sales department => sales department manager
- term pricing agreement => pricing agreement term, or expand it to “term of the pricing agreement”
- Command Military Healthcare => Military Healthcare Command
- Or, as a wonderful real-life example of how the order of a monstrous Dutch compound word is like an English noun stack, try gegevensbeschermingseffectbeoordeling…
As a general style point, it’s worth saying that you probably should avoid noun stacks except where space is at a premium (titles, headers). An expanded version in running text will often be more understandable: the order of stacks of nouns.
Prevalence: endemic. And it stands out because you have to reread the sentence to work out what was meant.
Frequency: very high. Job titles are a particular favourite.
Native: no. And they are quite widely used in newspaper headlines, section headings and technical writing, despite being frowned on by some purists.