I'm wondering why certain adjective-adjective-noun combinations often follow a consistent order.
|The big, blue house||The blue, big house|
|A mean, spiteful widow||A spiteful, mean widow|
|Red, circular mosquito bite||Circular, red mosquito bite|
The non-standard constructions either look wrong or don't read as smoothly. Is this a learned bias? I have no recollection of learning anything about adjectival order in school, so I assume that any preference is simply because we rarely hear anyone using the inverted construction.
So, to get to the crux of my question: Is this just something we pick up because that's how we learned it, or is there some sort of grammatical guideline from earlier in English's history that governs our way of speaking and writing?
Or a third option; does grammar set the tendency but allow the writer/speaker to choose at their own discretion whether the 'rule' can be broken in order to provide emphasis?
I realize that this is a pretty convoluted question; I tried my best to make it as clear as possible, and for all I know it makes no sense at all. But I've been wondering about this one for a while, and I'd appreciate any answer regarding its grammar, history, or origin. If there is a sort of grammatical hierarchy for adjectives, I'd like an explanation as to what it is (the specifics), and how it came about (the reason for its existence).
Two more examples, primarily supplementary:
|A well-built, well-groomed young fellow||A well-groomed, well-built young fellow|
|A fashionably dressed, glamorous woman||A glamorous, fashionably dressed woman|
I think that these two, perhaps, are reasonably invertible; neither of the options is particularly dissonant, and they don't really emphasize either quality over the other- Is it because both adjectives describe similar aspects of a person? Or is it something else?