Real-World Order of Premodifiers

Yesterday, we were looking in class at a recipe text (for Strawberry Shortcake:) when we came across an interesting extended noun group:

  • 2 mashed hard-cooked large egg yolks

I’d always tried to explain the order of adjectives grammatically, with some rules that explain why the order is the way it is. This example, however, made me think that perhaps there is not also some real-world influence on the order. You need some egg yolks so you go to the fridge and pick out 2 large ones, cook them (personally I’d say ‘hard-boiled’ – is that an Americanism?), and then mash them in a bowl. It is really physically impossible to do it in any other order. It seems then that the real-world process is the main determining factor on the ordering of adjectives here.

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