My favorite concept that I learned this year is hyperbaton. I didn’t realize it was a rule that I could not write “a blue tiny beautiful egg.” That’s hyperbaton: an odd order of words. Adjectives must be in this sequence: opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material, purpose and then the noun.
Luckily for this native English speaker, this just gets into our heads as we learn language. I was never taught this rule and yet, I know how to order the adjectives.
This startling revelation came to me from “The Elements of Eloquence” by Mark Forsyth. It is a delightful little softcover book (note the proper sequence).
In the same chapter as hyperbaton, he also reveals the secret of “ablaut reduplication.” The word is hip-hop, never hop-hip. Or flip-flop, not the reverse. “When you repeat a word with a different vowel, the order is I A O.” I had no idea that was a rule, a rule with a name. Ding-dong.