(Warning: this blog contains colourful language.)
Words and their order play such a vital part in any language. Everyone knows that English goes subject-verb-object, and that you can only bounce a ball, but you cannot a ball bounce, unless speaking cryptically.
One day, there was a small boy. Ever the aspiring writer, he wrote a wonderful story about a dragon. Proudly, he offered it up to his mother who, taking one look at it, began to laugh.
‘A green, great dragon?’ she mocked, ‘… you cannot have a GREEN, great dragon, darling. Only a great, GREEN dragon!’
Mortified and feeling the vacuous hole grammar devour his creative freedom, the young lad refused to write for some time. Luckily, this allowed our hero to conjure up one of the greatest stories in the world, and he eventually become known to the world as John Ronald Reuel Tolkein.
We must agree with the unfortunately true statement of Tolkein’s mother, who probably, pardon my French, kicked the shit out of herself if she could have seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy’s success. You cannot have a fat, stupid person, but you can have a stupid, fat person. There are old, French-colonial houses, but not French-colonial, old houses. Why the bloody hell not?
This rule drives learners of the English language up the wall and to a comfortably centre-of-the-roof-batshit-crazy seating position. Little to most English speakers’ knowledge, we actually have a rule with regards to how adjectives/describing words must be listed. It goes: opinion -> size -> age -> shape -> colour -> origin -> material/constituent -> purpose -> THING.
Let’s talk about something that I can reach comfortably from beneath my warm, woollen blanket in front of my big, warm heater so I don’t have to expose my beanstick, Australian legs to the arctic cold. Why, here we are! Right in front of me, there is a fucking scrumptious, 750ml, 20 year old, blocky, burgundy, Spanish, oak-infused, table wine. I cannot describe the very same bottle as a Spanish, oak-infused, 20 year old, burgundy, 750ml, blocky, fucking scrumptious table wine. It just doesn’t flow as well. Really listen. The first list sounds shorter than the second. It just goes that way. Honestly, does it really matter if we switch them around? Will I be politely ushered to a padded, white cell if I switch them around? Or would that be a white, padded cell?
These days, very few people pay attention to the ‘don’t end your sentences with a preposition’ rule. Which is a good job, because it never was an English rule anyway. Some pompous prat took the Latin rule which dictated this (emphasis on DICK) and applied it to English. They would cringe at the sentence, ‘It’s ok, tonight, I’ll put you up.’ However, anyone can see how it would sound unnatural to say, ‘It’s ok, tonight, up I’ll put you.’ If not, surely they could understand how this would make someone want to tell them up the fuck to shut.
Where do you draw the line with grammar rules you’re willing to drag around like a fetid corpse in this modern day and age, and which rules are you happy to see gone, like a despised relative after a 2 week stay around Christmas? When is it a mistake and a conscious decision to say no, damn it, that’s just unnecessary? Personally, I take a very non-materialistic, Zen approach. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, just cut it off like a zombie virus infested limb, I say! A few years ago I received a lovely card from a friend that shows two girls chatting. Girl A says, ‘Where’s your party at?’ Girl B angrily replies with, ‘Don’t finish your sentence with a preposition…’ Cleverly, her friend retorts, ‘FINE. Where’s your party at, BITCH?’ Well quipped, party girl. Well quipped, indeed.