I read recently that there is a fixed order for adjectives in English, although almost no native speakers could specify that order. Combining and reconciling a few online lists gives me this: quantity, opinion, size, physical quality, age, shape, colour, origin, material, type, purpose, and then (whew) a noun. To extend an example given by one expert . . .
You can have three lovely, little, dented, old, rectangular, green, French, silver, two-bladed whittling knives. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac.
This already sounds crazy to me: Not this delightful sentence, oh no, but the idea that I follow rules that I don’t even know exist. A likely story.
And with that segue, I’d like to share my latest writing challenge: the short short story.
The yellow ugly house on the corner irregular lot has been there as long as I remember. Likewise, its old, grumpy, lumpy resident.
It’s a calm lovely day, so I head out for a fitness short walk. As I near the wooden ramshackle structure, I see that its Scottish dour owner is outside, working in his front wraparound yard.
Out of nowhere, a southerly capricious gust lifts my French blue new beret off my head. Tossed up and over the asphalt black dirty road, it lands without so much as a “By your leave” in the green low ugly hedge that marks one boundary of my neighbour’s English incongruous formal garden.
Appalled, I stand stupidly on the concrete uneven sidewalk. Without even a glance of acknowledgement, the old crabby gardener silently stoops to disentangle this airborne rude interloper from the dark-green clipped thicket.
As he regains the vertical, evidently with some effort, he pauses ever so slightly, turning over my wool imported expensive headgear in his gnarled capable hands. Then, impassive, he flips my beret back across the paved dark ribbon that separates us.
Reflexively, I turn slightly, stretch out my right dominant arm, and catch this fabric unexpected floating Frisbee. With my peripheral keen vision, I think I glimpse an even more unexpected sight: a secret small smile floating across an unaccustomed somewhat face.
You see? Rules, schmules!