Difficulties in Identifying English Cutthroat Compounds
Cutthroats are agentive and instrumental exocentric verb-noun V+N compounds that name people and objects by describing their function (i.e., a cutthroat is a person who cuts throats). They are composed of a transitive verb and its direct object. Cutthroats are freely productive in Romance languages, which have a V.O. (verb-object) structure and are left-headed. English, which is V.O. and right-headed, has slight native productivity (Clark et al, 1986) that has been amplified and augmented by French borrowings (e.g., coupe-gorge and wardecorps). English has been slowly producing new cutthroats since the 1200s up through 2015, mainly in the form of nonce personal insults. Most cutthroats are obsolete slang, but about 40, including pickpocket, pinchpenny, rotgut and spitfire, are commonly known in Modern English.