The English Language.

Padmum who holds a Master’s Degree in English and has taught English to college students has sent this absolutely stunning information.

The Rule of Ablaut Reduplication.

Why `tock-tick’ does not sound right to your ears.

Ever wondered why we say :

tick-tock, not tock-tick,
or ding-dong,
not dong ding;
King Kong,
not Kong King…?

Turns out it is one of the unwritten rules of English that native speakers know without knowing.

The rule, explains a BBC article, is:

“If there are three words then the order has to go…
I, A, O.

If there are two words then the first is I and the second is either A or O.”

Mish-mash,
Chit-chat,
Dilly-dally,
hilly-shally ,
Tip-top,
Hip-hop,
Flip-flop,
Tic-tac,
Sing-song,
Ding-dong,
King Kong,
Ping-pong.“

There’s another unwritten rule at work in the name Little Red Riding Hood, says the article.

“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order:

Opinion – Size – Age -Shape – Colour -Origin – Material -Purpose – Noun.

So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife.

But if you mess with that word order in the slightest… you’ll sound like a maniac.“

That explains why we say “little green men“ not “green little men,“

But “Big Bad Wolf “ sounds like a gross violation of the “opinion (bad)-size (big) noun (wolf)“ order.

It won’t, though, if you recall the first rule about the I-A-O order…!!
Got it..?

That rule seems inviolable:

“All four of a horse’s feet make exactly the same sound.

But we always, always say clip-clop, never clop-clip!

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