Please read the adjacent text on the right for a short description of Panini’s Law
It is rather well known, as you kindly have shown,
That our language has reason and rhyme
I’m not being facetious (I’m glad that you teach us)
But what about “nickels and dimes”?
Perhaps you could say that that’s simply the way
That we put the important one first
That could truly be said: it’s not water and bread,
But it’s nonetheless “hunger and thirst”.
But I still must insist that there is quite a list
Of exceptions; I can’t write them all
But you’d surely agree, if a few you would see,
That this theory must “topple and fall”
For there’s “bangers and mash” and there’s “Tango and Cash”
And although that last one’s not a ‘text’,
Even shows on TV will most often agree
For we don’t watch The City and Sex
We drink “lemon and lime”, we eat “bacon and eggs”
(The plot is beginning to thicken!)
If I ask what comes first of one who is well-versed,
They won’t say, the egg or the chicken?
And on I can go, for there’s “triumph and woe”
O, there are certainly many indeed!
It’s not proper and prim, but it’s “vigour and vim”
And, of course, there is “colour and creed”.
Now, display my display, I will nonetheless say,
I agree – after all I’m no fool
For it’s all in inflection and all these exceptions
Do naught but to highlight the rule
For to try to imply that your theory’s awry,
Why that would be a terrible sin!
So I take off my hat and I leave it at that
Now it’s back to my tonic and gin…
Panini’s Law is the principle that, in a list, shorter items will generally precede longer items for rhythmical purposes. Hence, “hook, line and sinker”, “bits and pieces”, “Tom, Dick and Harry”. After being lectured on the universality of this “law”, I was inspired to send this poem to the lecturer. He enjoyed it, although I doubt that my perspective convinced him of anything.