- Wikipedia: Adjective Order
The "red, big ball"? Of course not—it's "big, red ball." There's an adjective order in English: quantity, quality, size, age, shape, color, proper adjective, and purpose. One has a "nice, little, old, white, brick house," not a "brick, old, little, white, nice house."
- City Pages: Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business
Thanks to NCLB and the new essay portion of the SATs, there's a small industry of grading essays. It's not clear to me if it's worse to work in one of these grading sweatshops or to be graded by one of them.
- CBS News: R.I. father says he’ll kill son’s murderer if man is released
John Foreman's son was killed and eaten by a man in 1975. The murderer due for release in August. Foreman intends to kill the man.
Published by Waldo Jaquith
Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Charlottesville, VA, USA. more »
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Seems like we’ve had this adjective order discussion before. ;-) But comptroller being pronounced “controller”?!? That’s still the shocking one.
26 years is all you get for killing and eating a kid??? I’d hand the father a weapon.
Oops! 36 years…math is hard.
Lynda, your math error is forgiven. And I’m with you on that…might even drive dad to the SOB’s apartment.
Also, this is the kind of potential crime tailor made for jury nullification. Would love to see a jury hear him confess, then find him not guilty.
Read the comments in the Rhode Island cannibal story. In case it wasn’t evident, he is reported to be nuttier than a fruitcake. And he lived with his father, a police officer, who refused requests to search the home where the kid was butchered and eaten. Justice was delayed 8 years and the killer was eventually sent to prison on reduced charges, not an insane asylum.
The jury knew he was out of his mind incompetent. You are left to wonder what they would have done if the prosecution had offered life in an asylum without parole.
I am all about jury nullification. It is a source of continual disappointment to me that I have only once been called for jury duty, and it was only two weeks before I moved out of Charlottesville to Blacksburg, preventing me from serving. I want a case where I can preach the gospel of jury nullification. Though I’m guessing that’s not likely. :)
I had to read the above couple of comments three times before I figured out which crime seemed to be tailor-made for jury nullification. I thought we were still talking about the cannibal and not the hypothetical murder of said cannibal, and I was thinking first, how does Publius figure? And second, why do so many people agree with him? Glad the neurons finally connected!
Has Rhode Island ever tried civil commitment for a case like this? (Committing the cannibal, I mean — not the dad)
The Providence Journal has much more on this murder. Rhode Island is considering civil commitment, and has a prior high profile case where a sex offender committed himself because when the case got tied up in court.
Interestingly the original prosecutor denies that the killer cannibalized the child. He kept a journal that detailed cannibalization, but says it was a fantasy. However he did commit a second attack on a child and that led to his capture.
FWIW, he kept a journal about the whole murder, and insisted at the time of his arrested that the whole thing was fantasy—that sure he’d written that he’d killed the kid, but that was just fiction. His fallback position is, apparently, that the story was true, except for the bit about cannibalism. Given that the prosector supports that, though, I certainly hope it’s true.
I hope it’s true, too — but it’s still probably strong grounds for civil commitment. Many serial offenders (both killers and rapists) fantasize about actions they eventually escalate to in subsequent crimes.
Re: adjective order. I had nt realized this. Were we TAUGHT this in school? We must have been but I don’t remember it. I just seem to instinctively put them in that order without thought. Weird.
I don’t think we were ever taught this—I think it’s just something that you know, one of those things that separates native speakers from non-native speakers.
If adjective order were a thing that we had to be explicitly taught, we (native speakers) would be making mistakes all the time–some people would have paid attention and would do it correctly, but probably more would not have attended and would habitually make mistakes. The fact that NO native speaker would make one of these mistakes tells you that it’s an internalized rule that we pick up just from hearing the language when we’re babies, and (I suppose) from reading. There are lots of features of language that fall into this same category. That’s why it’s really hard to teach grammar in any way that manifests itself in someone’s habitual speech/writing–if someone hasn’t internalized grammatical rules by a fairly early age, having explicit instruction in those rules isn’t going to help that much.
One of the hardest things about learning other languages is often adjective order, as well. Many languages start with the noun in question and then drill down towards the specific description because that’s what makes sense to their psycholinguistic sensibilities.
Which I can sort of understand — it’s much more important for the structure and meaning of a sentence for you to know that I’m talking about a certain ball that is both ___ and ___ than it is for you to know that I’m talking about a big, ___ ____, so why shouldn’t ball come in the primary position within the sentence? Nevertheless, “big, red ball” is how English-speakers think.
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