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IRREGULARITIES. Foreign adjectives

Transposition of Adjectives.

The adjective is placed after the noun:

(1) In legal expressions in which French influence can be traced:

“Heir apparent.

“Heir general.

“Thou cam'st not of the blood-royal.” Ib. 157.

“In the seat royal.

“Sport royal.

“Or whether that the body public be a horse.

“My letters patents (Fol.) give me leave.

(2) Where a relative clause, or some conjunctional clause, is understood between the noun and adjective:

“Duncan's horses,
(Though) Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turned wild in nature.

“Filling the whole realm . . . with new opinions
(That are) Divers and dangerous.

Hence, where the noun is unemphatic, as "thing," "creature," this transposition may be expected:

“In killing creatures (that were) vile.

“He look'd upon things (that are) precious as they were
The common muck of the world.

Hence, after the name of a class, the adjective is more likely to be transposed than in the case of a proper name. Thus

“Celestial Dian, goddess argentine.

i.e. "goddess (that bearest) the silver bow." The difference between a mere epithet before the noun, and an additional statement conveyed by an adjective after the noun, is illustrated by

“If yet your gentle souls fly in the air
And be not fix'd in (a) doom (that is) perpetual.

Similarly in

“With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut.

“My presence like a robe pontifical.

"eyes" and "a robe" are unemphatic, their existence being taken for granted, and the essence of the expression is in the transposed adjective.

The "three" is emphatic, and the divorcing of some "souls and bodies" is taken as a matter of course, in

“Souls and bodies hath he divorced three.

Somewhat similar-- “Satisfaction there can be none.” Ib. 262.

This relative force is well illustrated by

Prince. I fear no uncles dead.
Glou. Nor none that live. I hope.

(3) Hence participles (since they imply a relative), and any adjectives that from their terminations resemble participles, are peculiarly liable to be thus transposed.

Similarly adjectives that end in -ble, -ite, and -t, -ive, -al, are often found after their nouns, e.g. "unspeakable," "unscaleable," "impregnable;" "absolute," "devout," "remote," "infinite" (often), "past," "inveterate;" "compulsative," "invasive," "defective;" "capital," "tyrannical," "virginal," "angelical," "unnatural."

(4) Though it may be generally said that when the noun is unemphatic, and the adjective is not a mere epithet but essential to the sense, the transposition may be expected, yet it is probable that the influence of the French idiom made this transposition especially common in the case of some words derived from French. Hence, perhaps, the transposition in

“Of antres vast and deserts idle.

And, besides "apparent" in the legal sense above, we have

“As well the fear of harm as harm apparent.

Hence, perhaps, the frequent transposition of "divine," as

“By Providence divine.

So “Ful wel sche sang the service devyne.” CHAUCER, C. T. 122.

“Men devout.

“Unto the appetite and affection common.

Latin usage may account for some expressions, as

“A sectary astronomical.

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