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My understanding is that 赤ずきん refers to the fictional person, "[Little] Red [Riding] Hood" and 赤い頭巾 refers to the actual object, "red hood". What is the Japanese grammatical principle in operation here?

Edit: Corrected to '赤い頭巾' from '紅頭巾'

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Combining two nouns directly without a particle will introduce a new fixed concept. That's why 赤ずきん is one fixed idea (it refers to the fictional character) whereas 赤いずきん refers to a hood that is red. Similar things happen also in English:

  • blackboard — black board
  • greenhouse — green house
  • smartphone — smart phone

紅頭巾 (wihout い) is not common (why 紅 instead of 赤?), and we need context to make sense of it. It may be an odd way of writing 赤ずきん, but it may be an uncommon way of writing 赤いずきん.

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