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I Just Found Out Why We Say "Tick Tock" And Not "Tock Tick" And I'll Never Be The Same

English is a strange, confusing language.

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There are some phrases in the English language that just...sound right, you know? "Tick tock" has a much better flow than "tock tick," and "chat chit" — as opposed to "chit chat" — feels downright wrong.

Well, we have an answer! According to writer Mark Forsyth, it's the latter. There's a little thing called "the rule of ablaut reduplication," he wrote in an article for the BBC, and it governs how we order words.

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"Reduplication in linguistics is when you repeat a word, sometimes with an altered consonant (lovey-dovey, fuddy-duddy, nitty-gritty), and sometimes with an altered vowel: bish-bash-bosh, ding-dang-dong," the author of The Elements of Eloquence said.

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"If there are three words then the order has to go I, A, O. If there are two words then the first is I and the second is either A or O," he added.

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Other examples Forsyth cites are mish-mash, dilly-dally, shilly-shally, tip top, flip-flop, tic tac, sing song, and ding dong.

“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun," Forsyth writes. That's why you'd never ask if anyone's afraid of the "Bad Big Wolf."

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"You can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac," Forsyth says.