A green polka dot old hat?

High on grammar

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone:
The other day I attended an ESL class taught by a Chinese American teacher. Here is what she wrote on the white board: “A green poka dot (this is how she spelt polka) old hat”.
Shouldn’t the order of adjectives be as follow?
“An old green polka dot hat”
Thanks
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, it should, HoG:):thumbsup:

    ('Polka dot' isn't an adjective - which is another reason why it should come last;).)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The order of adjectives "rule" should be called "the order of adjectives suggested guidelines for occasions when you have no particular context in mind which would cause you to emphasize one attribute over another."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes, of course I know the song, Paul - my grandmother used to sing it to me frequently:p.

    ("Polka dot" is still not an adjective:D.)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Polka dot" is still not an adjective" :eek:

    An interesting theory, I assume you can quote peer reviewed references? It seems to me that if you changed "polka dot" to "striped" the adjectivalness would be immediately apparent...
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    You could change it to "polka-dotted" if you wanted: then it would be an adjective;).
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Polka dot" is still not an adjective" :eek:

    An interesting theory, I assume you can quote peer reviewed references? It seems to me that if you changed "polka dot" to "striped" the adjectivalness would be immediately apparent...
    Yes, and if you changed "striped" to "stripe" you would see the problem with "polka-dot" instead of "polka-dotted".

    (The only exception I can think of is if "yellow polka-dot bikini" means that the polka dots are yellow and "yellow polka-dotted bikini" means that the background is yellow and it has polka dots on it. Is that possible? Probably not, because "yellow-stripe" and "yellow-striped" would then have to mean two different things as well.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Paul, you might find this post by teddy in a recent discussion about "physics teacher" interesting:).
    Yes, and if you changed "striped" to "stripe" you would see the problem with "polka-dot" instead of "polka-dotted". ...
    James, I'm not sure I've understood you correctly - but I just wanted to make clear that I don't, at all, have a problem with the collocations "polka dot hat"/"polka dot bikini".

    What I do have a problem with is classifying "polka dot" in those collocations as an adjective rather than a noun:cool:.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Surely by using nouns as modifiers we are just revealing a germanic influence in our language - we create compound nouns - but unlike German, English retains spaces. We don't need to argue that a noun transforms itself into an adjective when it becomes a modifier. We just need to recognise that it has some adjectival behaviour. 'Polka dot' isn't a noun, it's two nouns. If the hat was created by Dior we could add even more nouns: it's a 5,000 euro Dior polka dot hat - or germanically - it's a 5,000euroDiorpolkadothat.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Yes, but not all nouns translate directly into use as adjectives. The fabric has stripes but it's a striped shirt, not a stripe shirt.

    As far as I can find in dictionary entries, the dash is required for the adjective here: "polka-dot, polka-dotted".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Surely by using nouns as modifiers we are just revealing a germanic influence in our language - we create compound nouns - but unlike German, English retains spaces. We don't need to argue that a noun transforms itself into an adjective when it becomes a modifier. We just need to recognise that it has some adjectival behaviour. 'Polka dot' isn't a noun, it's two nouns. If the hat was created by Dior we could add even more nouns: it's a 5,000 euro Dior polka dot hat - or germanically - it's a 5,000euroDiorpolkadothat.

    Yes. Or do I mean 'Yes Yes Yes'?

    The point at issue here is that whenever you get a noun modifying a noun - or multiple nouns modifying a noun - that noun/those nouns will come immediately before the noun they're modifying and after any adjectives:).
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I can only speak from a BE perspective, with the help of the OED
    polka dot, n.
    Etymology: < polka n. + dot n.
    Any of a number of round dots of uniform size repeated so as to form a regular pattern, usually on fabric. Freq. attrib., designating such a pattern, or an item of clothing, etc., having this.

    Derivatives
    polka-ˌdotted adj. patterned with or as with polka dots.
    I'll remind you that 'Freq attrib' means 'frequently attributive' which means 'frequently being used as a noun to modify the meaning of another noun which immediately follows it'. That's also as in 'polka' being used attributively to modify 'dot'. So in polka dot hat, 'polka' is a noun, 'dot' is a noun, 'hat' is a noun, 'polka dot' is a noun and 'polka dot hat' is a noun. And there's not an adjective in sight until it's an 'old green polka dot hat'.


    Yes. Or do I mean 'Yes Yes Yes'?
    Or 'Oh yesyesyes' ;)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Here's what Merriam-Webster has for "polka dot":

    n.
    : one of a series of dots that make a pattern especially on fabric or clothing
    : a dot in a pattern of regularly distributed dots in textile design

    — polka–dot or pol·ka–dot·ted adjective

    Here's Collier's take:

    1. (Textiles) one of a pattern of small circular regularly spaced spots on a fabric
    2. (Textiles)
    a. a fabric or pattern with such spots
    b. (as modifier): a polka-dot dress.

    And Random House:

    pol′ka dot` (ˈpoʊ kə)

    n.
    1. a dot or round spot repeated to form a pattern, esp. on a textile fabric.
    2. a pattern of such dots or something having such a pattern.
    [1880–85, Amer.]
    pol′ka-dot`, adj.


    It appears that American English uses "polka-dot" (with the hyphen) for the adjective, even in the phrase "polka-dot dress".
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    James, isn't it just a matter of terminology? The OED and Collier call it a noun used attributively or as a modifier, and M-W and Random House prefer to call a noun used as a modifier an adjective.

    Here's a possible test. I'll insert the hyphen in a nod to modernity.
    The hat is green - 'green' is an adjective.
    The hat is polka-dot - :confused:
    The hat is polka-dotted - 'polka-dotted' is an adjective.
     
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