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Non Communicative Adjectives

 
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:17 pm    Post subject: Non Communicative Adjectives Reply with quote

A property of addition is that it is communicative. 2 + 1 = 1 + 2.

To what extent is the English conjunction "and" also communicative?

Does it make a difference that if I say that someone is "tall and dark" or "dark and tall"? Syntactically not.

However, I recently had a (typically) bad experience with the service staff at Starbucks (not to worry, my inflammatory customer service comments back to them usually result in free drink cards).

I described the services of the waitpersons as "desultory and rude". After sending my comments, I decided I should look up "desultory" to make sure I was using it correctly. [Some words are so delicious, I strain to inject them into my epistolary writings.] Gladly, it had a meaning that accurately described the green aproned youths who man the java houses.

With Google up and running, I decided to search for the phrase "desultory and rude"...mmm....only 5 hits! I know I've heard this phrase before. Wait a minute..."rude and desultory" ? 77,100 !

Wow...me and five other people with dyslexia are the only ones using the phrase "desultory and rude". Does it not work as well?

In fact, does it work at all?! I mean, if the people are uncaring, meandering, unconcerned with service...can they also be rude? Or is it I who interpret their desultory behavior as rude to me, because they should be on the ball...wanting to clean my windshield as well as serve me a breakfast pairing.

Not sure...
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the word you should have looked up is "commutative",
as in addition is commutative over integers, so A+B = B+A.

In logic, "and" is commutative, so A and B = B and A.
There are several reasons why using "and" in common speech
is not commutative, not the least of which is that "and"
often has the flavor of "and then".

For a sequence of adjectives ("tall, dark, and handsome", e.g.)
there are "rules" governing the order of adjective categories.
It would be marked as unusual if someone referred to a
"brown big dog", instead of the other order. Beyond the
category ordering rules, there are sequences that are idiomatic.
Finally, some sequences just sound better. "Clark and Lewis"
and "Martin and Rowan" just don't "sing" as well as the ordinary
order, at least to my ears.

Using a "marked" order is useful for enlivening dead cliches,
and can sometimes convey some extra meaning.

As for "rude and desultory", my first impression is that I liked
your ordering, but on further thought, I think you can think
of the "and" in this case as meaning "and even..." Using
this interpretation, the second term would be expected to
be more extreme than the first, so "inept and reckless" would
be the normally preferred order. Thus your google results.
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the word you should have looked up is "commutative",

We should fire the editor.
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figure just dock his pay, and give him another chance.
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