Unwritten Rules of English Grammar: ‘Tock-tick’, ‘Dong-ding’, ‘Kong-King’

Unwritten Rules of English Grammar: ‘Tock-tick’, ‘Dong-ding’, ‘Kong-King’

Thanks to something called ablaut reduplication — a rule stating that, if you repeat a word and change an internal vowel, the order you say them in has to follow I-A-O.

This is why it’s King Kong, Ding Dong, Tick Tock (which sounds right to your ear), and not Kong-King, Dong-Ding, and Tock-Tick (which doesn’t sound right at all!)

Ever wonder why it’s Little Red Riding Hood? The adjective rule helps you remember what order to put things in:  it’s obscure, but yes, it is a thing!

  1. opinion
  2. size
  3. age
  4. shape
  5. color
  6. origin
  7. material
  8. purpose
  9. Noun

ie: little green men, not green little men; and Big Bad Wolf, not Bad Big Wolf.

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And… now you know about the crazy things elements of eloquence* that I, as an editor, know, to help make your manuscript better! #knowledgeispower #research #grammar #saywhat?

*Dara Says- The “elements of eloquence” is a great book by Mark Forsyth! Get it and enjoy learning how to turn a phrase.