Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have always wondered why the motto of the City of Orlando, FL (USA) is worded as The City Beautiful instead of The Beautiful City:

Orlando's city seal

Is The City Beautiful grammatically correct? If so, do you have examples of mottos or common phrases that use the adjective after the noun?

share|improve this question
3  
The light fantastic –  mgb Jun 4 '11 at 4:09
1  
Named must your fear be before banish it you can. (Master Yoda) –  Cyril Jun 4 '11 at 18:37
    
attorney general –  GEdgar Jul 2 '11 at 18:58
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

This is anastrophe, or more broadly, hyperbaton: a change to conventional word order for the sake of emphasis, in this case poetic effect. The first article mentions the City Beautiful movement specifically. Here, interesting you might find this question.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 And if it were my question I'd award you the check mark. –  Robusto Jun 4 '11 at 14:28
add comment

"The House Beautiful" was the name of a Victorian movement (a reaction against utilitarian design). Not only is it still understood, the phrase is the title of a magazine and a current radio series.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think it is archaic;
For example, in Pilgrims Progress(circa 1678), the main character(Christian) stopped at a house called "The Palace Beautiful"

share|improve this answer
    
To me it sounds as if Beatiful is meant to be a noun here, not adjective. So The Beautiful City (obviously adjective) and The City Beautiful (probably noun) are different things, although not entirely different in meaning. –  Philoto Jun 4 '11 at 5:53
    
Not unless you think along the lines that "The City Beautiful" is a short form of "The City that is Beautiful". –  Thursagen Jun 4 '11 at 5:57
    
Yep, something like this. –  Philoto Jun 4 '11 at 5:58
    
In The Pilgrim's Progress, I think Beautiful is serving as proper noun. The palace (named) "Beautiful". The country (named) "Germany". Thus it could similarly be "Orlando", the city (nicknamed) "Beautiful". –  Ben Voigt Jun 5 '11 at 3:27
add comment

Yes, the phrase is grammatically correct. It is an example of anastrophe, as @Jon Purdy stated.

Here is an example which would negate the conjecture that using the adjective after the noun is archaic usage: The magazine whose title is House Beautiful. This was a popular print magazine and continues to exist in the present as a popular online publication.

Also consider the series of contemporary books by James Herriot (first published in 1972):

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • All Things Wise and Wonderful
  • All Creatures Great and Small

Each of these are examples of adjective following the noun. All are contemporary titles.

share|improve this answer
1  
"Contemporary titles"? They're lines from a hymn which was written in 1848. –  Peter Taylor Jun 4 '11 at 9:44
    
Yes, I realize that. However they are ALSO the titles of very mainstream books published in the 1970's, which are still popular reading material. –  Feral Oink Jun 4 '11 at 9:56
4  
Shakespeare's still popular reading material. That doesn't mean that the language he wrote in isn't archaic. The word order may be perfectly acceptable in contemporary English, but to demonstrate it you need examples which are both contemporary and not intentionally old-fashioned. –  Peter Taylor Jun 4 '11 at 10:22
add comment

Mission Impossible is from "Mission: Impossible" (that is, the word impossible is further clarifying the word mission). Admittedly, you could express "The city: beautiful" in the same way, but I suspect it's as Philoto says instead: beautiful is a noun. Or, more specifically, city beautiful is a noun phrase.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.