Asked • 03/20/19

What are the principles that make certain lists sound euphonious?

Has this ever happened to you: You write a question, include a list or two in the discussion, and then come back to edit that list because the order doesn't sound "right"? For example, I changed "God, man, and nature" to read "man, nature, and God". Why in fact do certain constructions of lists sound more pleasant to the ear than others? Why can't it be "child, man, and woman" rather than "man, woman, and child"? All the principles I can think of, such as ordering by "natural" progression, ordering by length of word, and ordering to preserve internal rhyme, seem to have exceptions or be violated for some sayings. Does one principle have supremacy over the other? Are there any others I'm missing? And finally, how can we be sure what sounds pleasant isn't just historical inertia carried over from a first well-recognized coinage?

1 Expert Answer


Oliver W. answered • 04/11/19

5.0 (197)

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