thunder and lightning

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
Post Reply

thunder and lightning

Post by Archived Topic » Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:32 am

Why do we always say them in this order? As my wife commented, we see the lightning before we hear the thunder, so why isn't it "lightning and thunder"?.
Submitted by Simon Beck (London - England)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Topic imported and archived

thunder and lightning

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:46 am

Isn't there a natural rhythm to many of these non-reversible couplets? Or do they sound so natural merely because we're accustomed to the usual order? Jerry and Tom, Joan and Derby, span-and-spick, I and the King, ready-and-rough, toity-hoity - Dreadful. We can't allow just any Dick, Tom and Harry to establish a new order.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

thunder and lightning

Post by Archived Reply » Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:01 pm

Well, they did in "Kiss Me Kate," I believe!


Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Re: thunder and lightning

Post by Dunkeld » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:52 pm

Archived Reply wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:46 am
Isn't there a natural rhythm to many of these non-reversible couplets?
I think so!
It is the rhythm!

----------------

Btw: Nobody in Germany ever says: "Donner und Blitzen!" :mrgreen:
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

Re: thunder and lightning

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:43 pm

Dunkeld wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:52 pm
Archived Reply wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:46 am
Isn't there a natural rhythm to many of these non-reversible couplets?
I think so!
It is the rhythm!
It's not just the rhythm, because some of Edwin's inversions preserve the same rhythm as was present in the original (e.g. toity-hoity, span-and-spick).

Having said that, I don't have an alternative theory besides the suggestion that the original coinage has the advantage of greater familiarity and will therefore tend to be preserved if most people find it euphonious. Otherwise, I can't see any reason for the set phrase cited by the original poster (thunder and lightning) to be preferred over lightning and thunder, for instance.
ACCESS_POST_ACTIONS

ACCESS_END_OF_TOPIC
Post Reply