Social Question

ChocolateReigns's avatar

Who decides the order of pairs? (details inside)

Asked by ChocolateReigns (5619points) August 17th, 2010

I was at a fair on Saturday, and as I was walking through the flea market section I saw a sign that said “Bolts and Nuts”. That got me thinking, when you think of a pair of something, why does a certain order sound right? There are quite a lot of pairs like this:
Bacon & eggs
Salt & pepper
Ketchup & mustard
Pickles & ice cream (I still haven’t figured out who would eat that!)
Burgers & fries

Who or what decides it? Just tradition?

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6 Answers

zenele's avatar

It’s always easier to remember things that rhyme, especially when learning a second language: jelly belly, money honey, the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain…

Dynamic Duos, so to speak, with their alliteration or rhyme (or both), roll easily off the tongue and slip effortlessly into the cobwebs of our minds and memories. Which is the point.

Along those lines, there are simply things that go together as the song goes; some of them just common sense (or good marketing) and some strange, but nonetheless true: pickles and ice cream are what a pregnant woman craves – perhaps because her hormones are all haywire and she simultaneously needs both sweet and salty. But shilolo or Dr_C could better tell you the reason.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the order just has to do with how it is commonly said, and it is said over and over again the same way, so it just becomes how it is. I know that is a non answer I just gave. It just catches on, the phrase gains momentum in the vernacular of the language.

CrankMonkey's avatar

I like fractured sayings like the following.

The early worm gets the bird.

Time wounds all heals.

zenele's avatar

@CrankMonkey That’s a wonderful trick to remember sayings – to add a dash of humour.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Didn’t you know? There’s a language cartel headquartered in the Himalayas that decides these things.

CMaz's avatar

Its always based on dominant structure.

Bacon is in charge of the eggs
Salt always bosses the pepper around.
Ketchup gets the attention over mustard.
Pickles & ice cream Wink… Wink..
The Burger drives, fries are shotgun.

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