Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 11:46:20 EST


Subject: Re: knife & fork

If anyone is still hanging on to the impression that fewer-syllables-before-

more-syllables is the major principle determining order of nominals in fixed

binomials/freezes, here are a few examples where the phonological tendency is

overridden by one or more semantic factors [most from Cooper & Ross 1975]

happy or sad

fathers and sons

parent and child

singular and plural

monolingual or bilingual

heaven and hell

predator and prey

living/alive or dead

peanut butter and jelly

As for bacon and eggs, there is indeed a meat-first tendency, operative also in

my aforementioned burger and fries (hot dog and roll, etc.), which is in fact

strong enough to account for Campbell's pork and beans, one that always puzzled

me because the only "pork" anyone could find therein was that little slab of

fat. (I suppose "pork fat and beans" would have sounded less appetizing.)

Cooper and Ross also point to "surf and turf", "fish or fowl", and "fish or

game" to suggest that while meat precedes almost every-

thing else, it's outranked by fish.