Date: Fri, 2 Feb 1996 22:29:21 EST


Subject: Re: ESL/forks to the right/pudding & pie?

"Pie and pudding" doesn't rhyme with "kissed the girls and made them

cry." It would make sense to me that the reason "pudding and pie"

was frozen in that pattern was solely because of the nursery rhyme.

Moreover, we mustn't forget Haj Ross's "Me First" principle, which

overrides the phonological factors to make "Cynthia and Mike" the way

I refer to my sister and her husband, while _his_ brother would call them

"Mike and Cynthia." In other words, a special personal connection can

lead a speaker to put the heavier member first.

Or as in the Yale-Harvard game vs. the Harvard-Yale game, depending on whether

you're in New Haven or Cambridge. In fact, as Cooper & Ross point out in the

1975 version of their take on irreversible binominals (Malkiel's earlier

term), the various parameters Stephen mentions go back to Panini's work on

Sanskrit nominal patterns. As for "ladies and gentlemen" (vs. "men and

women", "Mr. and Mrs.", "husband and wife"), I'd argue that it follows from

the same prescriptive/politeness factors as in the "Ebenezer and I" vs.

(the more "natural") "me and Ebenezer".

So, we have now identified at least the following four ordered


1. Frozen pattern: pudding and pie.

2. Prescriptive rule-following: Ebenezer and I.

3. Me-first: Janet and Jess (for a relative of Janet's).

4. Lighter-first: knife and fork (Amer) vs. fork and knife (Brit).

Are there any others?

Sure, a whole bunch (see Cooper & Ross for some)--

singular before plural (Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones)

animate before inanimate, animal before vegetable, human before animal, etc.

(and, as we've seen, male before female)

generally, unmarked before marked (hot and cold, good and bad) and positive

before negative (win or lose, positive or negative, yes or no)

and one of my favorites, power source first (gin and tonic, scotch and soda,

and/or meat first, even when this overrides the shorter first (bacon and

eggs, burger and fries).

It's also worth noting that the phonological factors discussed by Cooper & Ross

are not limited to length, measured by syllables or moras; vowel quality and

consonants are also relevant. I don't have the paper on me, so I can't cite

more specifically, but it's in the CLS 11 Parasession volume on Functionalism

(and I think Haj went on publishing in that area for a few years afterward).