Certain nouns can often be used as noun adjuncts in place of a corresponding adjective, with no change in literal meaning, where:
- The noun is not pejorative when used nominatively by itself.
- Nor is the corresponding adjective pejorative.
- But the noun used attributively is pejorative.
Is this a common pattern in English (besides the 2 examples below), and if so, what's the reason behind it? Also, is the phenomenon specific to proper nouns?
Here are some examples of such usages that should be typical according to what I'm claiming:
Generally not pejorative when used nominatively (though that may depend on the company you keep...):
Corresponding adjective is not pejorative:
Democrat (the US political party)
Not pejorative, used nominatively:
President Barack Obama is a Democrat.
Not pejorative, corresponding adjective:
Pejorative, used attributively: