Rafael Benitez is unhappy with his title. In a speech after Chelsea had beaten Middlesbrough 2-0 in the fifth round of the FA Cup, Benitez objected to being called “interim manager”. So why is “interim manager” linguistically and semantically so different from “manager”?
In structure, both are noun phrases, but the pre-modifying adjective “interim” alters our response to the head noun. This is the power of pre-modification – it affects the way we interpret the noun that follows.
The meaning of the adjective appears to undermine the authoritative connotations of “manager” in this context. For Benitez, it makes his role seem less important because it suggests that he is only transitional, temporary – a stand-in until someone else (someone better or more suitable?) can be appointed.