mamcu (mamculuna) wrote in linguaphiles,

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Good article. I vaguely recall that the order runs the other way in languages that put adjectives after the noun. And then there's the ones where you can put some before and some after. Any claim about universals has to address those, too.
The author does mention the order being reversed when adjectives come after the noun even in English. The key property is being close to the noun, not first or second. So when the adjectives precede the noun, closeness means coming later, and when they follow the noun, closeness means coming first. This is perfectly compatible with the theories described in the article.

I agree that the article was good, but I was a bit annoyed to see the author link to an article about electrophysiological effects of adjective order reversal. I read the abstract, and I've read a lot of this sort of primary literature, and I took a class on exactly this sort of psycholinguistic research. The study didn't find "more cognitive effort." These electrophysiological studies never find "more cognitive effort." Rather, they find different patterns of brainwaves compared to a control. It's not harder to turn left instead of right when you come to a fork in the path. It's just different. Yet here (and elsewhere) I've found these studies summarized as "our brains work harder to process these sentences." They don't. They simply work differently.
Ah, that's interesting. What you say about the effort makes perfect sense. Strange that this article promotes the misinterpretation.