Despite the title of the post, it is not directly related to the American flag or Independence Day. Instead, the key word from the title is the seemingly innocuous word “and.” Consider the following:
“One E & Uh. Two E & Uh. Three E & Uh. Four E & Uh.”
“Red, white, and blue.”
“Cook and clean.”
The first is just a joke, as it amuses me when thinking of counting beats in music. For the second, the colors are almost always given in this order within the United States, but there appears to be no reason other than custom why it is given in this order. However, for the lattermost, it would be weird reversing the order, as cleaning is usually a consequence of cooking, as opposed to an antecedent.
I thought that this image was a cute representation, so I credit Bill Giyaman from where I found it:
Sometimes, combinations of words that are separated by “and” are ALMOST ALWAYS written in that order, even when the order is probably not important. I would say that this is particularly true when it comes to colors. For monochrome, have you ever read it as “white and black?” No, you’ve probably read it as “black and white.”
And for the title of the post, I always hear “Red, White, and Blue” when referring to the American Flag, instead of any of the other combinations of those three words. The “Stars and Stripes” are sometimes used, but is there any discontinuity in saying “Stripes and Stars” other than it probably sounding weird to an American’s ear?
Here are some other combinations involving “and” that seem to be order-independent, but probably sound weird if reversed, from what I can think of off the top of my head.
“Gold and silver”
“Salt and pepper”
“Assault and battery”
“Nickel and dime”
“Fruit and vegetables”
“A&M” (Agricultural and Mechanical)
“Apples and bananas” (or should I say, “oples and bononos”)
“To and fro”
“Lock and key”
“Birds and bees”
“Pots and pans”
“(Numbered street) and (named street)” (e.g. “70th and Old Cheney”)
“Arts and Entertainment”
Oh, speaking of the latter, name combos are also something else, particularly on radio shows. Here are some name combinations that have become ingrained in me in the order stated, and would sound weird in reverse:
“Bob and Tom (In The Morning)”
“(Sunny Side Up With) Kristin and Lindsay”
“(The B Morning Show With) Gina and Joe”
“(The Human Conditioner With) Bridget and Christopher”
What other similar combinations can you think of?
For all my American readers, Happy Independence Day!