The Non-Maniacal Order of Adjectives

Here’s a bit of fun for language fans. Maybe you’ve already seen this, but it was only recently that I discovered this gem. English speakers do something naturally with adjectives, according to author Mark Forsyth:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote his first story aged seven. It was about a “green great dragon.” He showed it to his mother who told him that you absolutely couldn’t have a green great dragon, and that it had to be a great green one instead. Tolkien was so disheartened that he never wrote another story for years.


The reason for Tolkien’s mistake, since you ask, is that 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. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out. And as size comes before colour, green great dragons can’t exist.

If you have your doubts, come up with a descriptive sentence of your own and place the adjectives outside of Forsyth’s listed order. It’s a fascinating exercise!

From The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase, by Mark Forsyth (2013).

Weaving Childhood Memories into My Stories: Hair Pressing Time

School Picture Day is the annual Fall occurrence of best wear and toothy smiles in schools across the country. My school’s Picture Day happens next week, and the event is stirring up fond memories of my mother preparing her children for that day.

Other than Easter Sunday, the Lowe Kids never looked better during our elementary school grades than we did on Picture Day. Mom would make sure we were wearing our neatest and nicest. And on the evening before the day, she would “press” the girls’ hair with the hot comb and use foam curlers to set the curls overnight. When we left for school, Mom had her little girls ready to stand before the camera, with a send-off of “Don’t let that cameraman touch your hair!”

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All The Same, All That Matters

I am working to turn this poem I wrote into a song:

Inside

there is

no offending color

All the same

All that matters

It’s the beating of the heart

the working of the brain

the moving of the blood

All the same, all the same

It’s the Spirit of God

it’s the soul that remains

tell your brother that you love him

give your sister her place

Good night

And a very good Day

when the Lord comes down

and He carries it away

He’ll bring His color

and nothing else will remain

All the same

All that matters

Ephesians 2:14-16


Fiction: Filling in the Blanks

The badness and sadness of this world can be overwhelming. As a writer, my aim is to create uplifting stories of goodness and hope and make them available to those who visit my website.

With that in mind, I want to bring you in on a story I’m writing. The working title is OK, Boomer, and it is one of the Story of the Month stories that I am writing to fill in the earlier months I missed. My “new and improved” website was launched earlier this month, and I’d like to have a story for January, February, and March, too.

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2020: I Can See Clearly Now

Happy New Year!

Flashback.

December 31, 1999, 11:55 p.m., stiff chair, home office:

Picture me in front of my Gateway computer, watching the digital clock tick off the minutes. I was alone and anxious. At midnight, the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem would either occur or not. If the experts were correct, my computer, their computers, the entire world’s computer systems would fail.

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“Your Blog Helps Me” — A Precious Message From a Reader

From July 2018:

“Hi, Darla —

Just wanted to say hi and say I’ve missed reading your blog. Or rather to ask if you have not been writing it. I rarely comment, but I love your writing and subject matters. I especially loved the post about your hero, your brother. It moved me (I keep it to re-read occasionally). I had an awful childhood, lousy youth, life-threatening automobile accident at 21 that changed my life, tried to commit suicide, and then was saved. Had a wonderful 36 years with my wonderful husband and suddenly lost him to multiple myeloma and horrible doctor care. Then I crashed and 16 years later I’m trying not to waste what little time I have left. Your blog helps me. Anyway, hope you are doing well and enjoying life.

All the best,
[Reader’s Name]”

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