Friday, 28 October 2011

The Mat sat on the Cat.

Saddo that I am, I woke up this morning thinking about noun order.

In the case of the title, the order matters.  The thing doing the sitting comes before the thing being sat on. It could be otherwise, but "sat" would have to change to "was sat on by" to maintain it's original sense.

Other nouns are placed in a certain order because of cultural reasons.

These include both common nouns, and proper nouns.

So it's always John, Paul, George and Ringo (John - Alpha smart arse male, Paul - a bit like john but a bit wishy-washier, George - Played Guitar and didn't sing as much, and hardly wrote any of the tunes, Ringo - Ugly fucker with a lousy voice hiding behind a drumkit)

It's always Adam and Eve. Never Eve and Adam. Also Mr and Mrs. Not Mrs and Mr. This is a man's world.

Try asking for any of these:
  • Vinegar and Salt flavoured crisps.
  • Chips and fish.
  • Squeak and Bubble
  • An Onion and Cheese pasty
It never rains dogs and cats(although if there was a massive explosion in a Japanese car factory, it might rain Datsun cogs).


You never get Lizst and Brahms (that one's the way it is because it's rhyming slang - it wouldn't work the other way around of course - see also "Apples and Pears" and "Dog and Bone") If I fell out with you, we'd never be at sevens and sixes. The Union Flag is always Red, White and Blue. Never White Blue and Red. It's always Cheap and Cheerful. We fall for things Hook, Line and Sinker.

I'm sure there are many many others, so this post may grow if I can be arsed.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

1 comment:

Pete said...

Practical English Usage by Michael Swan published by Oxford will be of interest to you.