>> I don't understand all this concern about one 
>> particular hyphenated compound adjective.  The 
>> question to be asked is "when did 'quality' become 
>> an adjective.  Once it became an adjective then 
>> many different modifiers could be attached to it: 
>> high, low, poor, inferior, superior, indifferent, 
>I don't think that's right.  Until it became an adjective 
>it was necessary to attach a modifier to make the phrase 
>adjectival.  Afterwards, it was not.

Well, then, all we need to do is find the proceedings of the Academy
meeting where it officially became an adjective and then we'll know.

The ceremony is a touching one.  The nouns to receive the accolade are
first paraded through the streets to the cheers of thronging grammar-
school students and their grammar teachers; then, resplendent in
the traditional Middle English Gothick 48-Point Bold, they are
carried on a velvet pillow by the Gentleman Usher of the Black
Rod to the nave of the Abbey, where the Primate of All English
gives the blessing, followed by enrollment of the honored nouns
into the rolls of the Worshipful Company of Adjectives.  After that
the Queen (or Designate) HerSelf dubs each one individually.

Then, in the culminating moment, in the presence and under the aegis
of the assembled Academy Members and attendant courtiers, the
noun then performs its first full grammatical Modification.

Ah, pageantry.  Ah, grammar.

 -John Lawler                     More grammar