Why do we like things in a specific order? Well, sometimes anyway. I would never think of saying chips and fish, for instance, but I’m not sure about bacon and eggs vs. eggs and bacon.
The order of adjectives is an interesting matter. Big, red book is fine, but red, big book certainly isn’t. However, once one gets more than about three in a string of adjectives, my intuitions at least get a little uncertain. How about big, black, shiny, American car vs. big, shiny, black, American car?
The Little Red Book
I am now going to step out onto very thin ice and consider adjective order in languages where the adjectives regularly follow the noun. I have almost no intuitions about this, but I do have a bit of evidence for two languages. Here we go with Irish. Irish for “beautiful, young girl” is cailín deas óg, literally “girl beautiful young”, with the adjectives in the same order as in English. Another example comes from Hebrew, and is supplied by my neighbour, who is a fluent Hebrew speaker. Modern Hebrew for “big, red book” is [sefer gadol adom], literally book big red. Again the order is the same as in English.
I would welcome any comments about languages of this sort, especially if they seem to be different from English in their order hierarchy.
There is a putative hierarchy for English online at this address. I’m still pondering that to see if I can find any good counter-examples.