Friday, 4 May 2012

The hierarchy of adjectives

I don't know when I developed an interest in language or what sparked it off.  But I can't deny that every now and then something about language - specifically, the English language - grabs my attention and interest.  I do like to read English written correctly and to hear it spoken correctly.  That is not to say that I object to local accents or dialects: I mean grammatically correct.  I can also accept that English grammar is variable and can depend on the version of the language that is being used - English English, American English, Australian English and so on.  I made mention of one example yesterday - and must now admit my mistake.  I wrote that I looked out of the window when I should have said that I looked through the window to be strictly correct.  I wonder when it became accepted that one looks out of a window?  One can throw things out of a window (or out a window in the USA) but look?  No, that should really be look through.

But this is all mere twaddle compared with something that was brought to my attention yesterday: the hierarchy of adjectives.  Had you realised that adjectives have a pecking order?  No, I hadn't either.  But the rule is opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose.  Take, by way of example, the jacket of mine that the Old Bat insisted on throwing away last week.  I described it as a comfortable old green tweed jacket.  The Old Bat described it differently - as a scruffy old mud-coloured rag.  Which it is/was is, of course, entirely a matter of opinion which has no place in this scholarly dissertation.  But... (I'm starting too many sentences with that word) but... try changing the order of the adjectives.  Go on - use either description, it won't matter.  Use both if you like.  See what I mean?  it doesn't sound quite right if you put them in any other order.  Odd, isn't it?

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There is nothing particularly scenic about today's picture, which was taken on my walk up the Waterhall valley.  What caught my eye was the strength of the colours.  I have made no change to the colour saturation but how vivid are the leaves and the grass, and what a beautiful sky.

5 comments:

Stephen Hayes said...

The greens in the picture are intense. A great place to stop for a picnic or just a think.

Uncle Skip, said...

I see where Blogger has a new gadget to translate from one language to another. I wonder if they'll go so far as to develop a translation from English English to American or Australian English?

Brighton Pensioner said...

I seem to remember coming across an on-line American English/English English dictionary some long time ago. I wonder if I can find it again?

Buck said...

I was unaware of the hierarchy of adjectives... in the formal sense... until just now. I don't remember the concept being taught in any of my English classes; perhaps it's something we all intuitively know?

Lisa said...

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