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?


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.


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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