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On Mon, Nov 19, 2012 at 2:31 PM, Gary Shannon <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I've tried both ways, and being a native English speaker who is reasonably
> fluent in Spanish I am familiar with both orders.
>
> However, I prefer adjective (or adjective-like noun) first for what I think
> is a logical reason: Given a noun phrase with more than one adjective, the
> presence of the noun clearly marks the end of the noun phrase and you know
> you're done with it. "The big, hungry, black bear ate the berries."
>
> Whereas when the adjectives follow the noun having more than two adjectives
> becomes very clumsy, and, especially when a line break occurs within the
> noun phrase, and when you are reading aloud, you're never quite sure where
> the noun phrase ends until it's too late. "The bear, big, hungry, and black
> ate the berries." Every adjective leaves you with the uncertainty of
> whether it is the last adjective, or whether it will be followed by more
> adjectives. Clearly the next verb marks the end of the adjective chain, but
> to have the noun phrase marked by something internal to it (the noun) is
> preferable to having the marker be external to the noun phrase, requiring
> that you "overshoot" the end of the noun phrase in order to recognize the
> end of the noun phrase.
>

This reminds me of a presentation I attended on the differences between
English and Japanese negation.  Essentially, the two negation strategies
lead to different problems when dealing with the scope of negation.  For
English, you open up the scope of negation with a negative particle, and
than have to wait for prosodic and syntactic cues that tell you where the
scope ends -- similar to your example with adjectives following the noun.
 For Japanese, you are waiting for the end of the sentence to give you
polarity information.  Anyway, to make a long story short, the presenter
showed evidence that Japanese go through a lot of work to deal with the
cognitive load of waiting for polarity at the end, such that they tend to
produce shorter negative sentences and use a variety of "negative
anticipating words" (possibly not the exact words -- memory is foggy).

Basically, there could be something to be said for having the noun at the
beginning as well, though lists of nominal modifiers aren't so likely to
get that long (unless you get some heavier modifiers like relative clauses).