Adjectival Wahala!

Recently, I saw a Nollywood  movie, titled, 'Nigerian poor Nigga' and was kind of embarrassed and felt pity for the person who titled the movie. The reason for such feeling is that the adjectives (Nigerian and poor) preceding the noun (Nigga) in the sentence are wrongly placed and it is so appalling that it is coming from our Nollywood.

Generally speaking, Adjectives mainly function as qualifiers of nouns. E.g.
 The beautiful girl.
            Adj.         N

In the example above, only one adjective is preceding and qualifying the noun but it is also possible to have four adjectives occurring in sequence or preceding a noun. E.g.
The beautiful,  tall,  fair  Nigerian girl.
             Adj.     Adj.  Adj.    Adj.         N

In English language, anytime you have two or more adjectives occurring in sequence, there is an order in which they must occur. However, most learners of the language have failed to take into cognizance such order or pattern and this is evidenced in the title of the Nollywood movie, 'Nigerian poor Nigga', hence the need for this tutorial. Many will even say, 'The tall beautiful girl' instead of 'The beautiful tall girl.' I no blame ona sha; learning is a continuous process but after today, I no wan hear am from ona mouth again oooo!

In today's tutorial, I will be showing you how to arrange two or more adjectives occurring in sequence. Whenever you have two or more adjectives coming before/preceding a noun, there is an order in which they occur. The things to look at for are:

Under quality, you have: beautiful, lovely, intelligent, arrogant, harsh, dull etc. The quality of the person or thing should come first.

2. SIZE.
Under size, you have to make a decision between three things. In other words, there are three things to look out for under size and they must be in this order:

a) Size:  tall, small, slim, long, short, big, large etc.

b) Age:  age could be young, old, new, modern, ancient etc.

c) Shape:  round, rectangular, spherical etc.

Under colour, you have: red, black, pink, white etc.

The adjective to be placed fourth is the province (that is the origin of the person or thing. Where does the person/thing come from?) Under province, there are two things to look out for:

a) Geographical:  Nigerian, Eastern, African, Western, Southern etc.

b)  Derived- where is the thing derived from? If it is from metal, then it metallic; if it is from wood, then is wooden; if it is from silk, then it is silky etc.

The above states the order in which two or more adjectives preceding/coming before a noun should occur. Anything aside this arrangement is termed ungrammatical.

Having said that, let's evaluate the phrase below to see whether the adjectives are properly placed:

The  beautiful, tall, fair, Nigerian girl.
       qua         size  col     geo.         N

It is obvious the above phrase is correct as the adjectives are properly placed.

Now let's evaluate our phrase of study Nollywood gave us:

Nigerian    poor     Nigga.
   geo.       quality.     N

From the look of things, I doubt if you still need a soothsayer to tell you what you already know.

But if you are still confused, the phrase below shows the sequence in which the adjectives should occur.

Poor        Nigerian        Nigga.
quality.       geo.                N

In the phrase above, you can see the quality of the person(poor) preceding the province of the person(Nigerian) thereby making the placement of the adjectives very correct.

English as a language has rules governing it and you will alter the grammaticality of the language if you don't adhere to these rules. Therefore, learn how to adhere to the rules governing English Language.

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.

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