The phrase bish, bash, bosh is ablaut reduplication, don’t you know

Elements of EloquenceGosh, this might be said to be a bit heavy for the first post of the week. I feel sure, though, you’ll love to learn two obscure rules of good English – much as I was when I found them in a couple of tweets from journalist John Rentoul.

Rentoul says his new favourite book is The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase by Mark Forsyth. Rentoul’s tweets pleasingly include a couple of snippets from the book. Both rules of English are new to me, and maybe to some of you too.

Here’s the first snippet about ablaut reduplication, and why it’s bish, bash, bosh, and not bash, bosh, bish.

The second is on the word order rule – its always opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun.

Word order rule

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