Thursday 14 March 2024

Rules are for breaking, or are they?

 Who'd have thought it? Apparently there is a rule, which has very few exceptions, about the order to be followed when listing multiple adjectives before a noun. We do it automatically, without realising that we're even doing it. It just sounds right. For example, my long red chinese silk jacket sounds fine, but my silk chinese red long jacket ... ? Well, you just never would.

Apparently, multiple adjectives are always ranked in this order: opinion, size, age, shape, colour, origin, material, purpose.

There is an exception to this rule, which is even more surprising. It's called the rule of ablaut reduplication. (Don't go. I promise this is more interesting than it sounds). This rule says that the vowels i, a, and o always follow this order, i then a then o. Don't believe me? Just think of a few examples; flip flop, i before o; shiplap, i before a; big bad dog, i before a before o, (which contradicts the rule about adjectival hierarchy because bad is an opinion and should come before big, which is a size).

Fortunately, Barnaby doesn't mind in which order you read his books, even the series which are numbered sequentially can be read in any order and still make perfect sense. You can find out about all of Barnaby's books at  

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