[Corpora-List] Google searches as linguistic evidence

Fanny Meunier fanny.meunier at uclouvain.be
Thu Dec 7 13:51:03 CET 2006

Hi there,

Your question puzzled me and I googled "a
worshop" (7840000 hits) vs "an workshop" (21500 hits).

It struck me that they were quite a lot of German refs such as
Sie bitte an workshop at ... (= sthg like: please see workshop at ...)
schicken Sie bitte eine Email an workshop (= sthg
like: please send an e-mail to workshop at ...)
direkt per E-Mail an workshop at ... (= directly via e-mail to workshop at ...)

Food for thought...

All the best,

Le 13:13 7/12/2006,Diana Maynard écrit:

>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit


>No problem, it was my fault for being too hasty also.

>I agree entirely.

>Another little story....


>A non-English colleague asked me the other day

>if the correct phrase was "a workshop" or "an

>workshop". I was quite surprised at the

>question, especially as the colleague said he

>had searched for both on Google as he was not

>sure which to use, and found more occurrences of

>the former, but still many occurrences of the

>latter. He also said that to him the

>pronunciation of the latter sounded better

>(which I found odd as I actually found it quite

>difficult to pronounce, but perhaps that's a non-native speaker thing).

>I checked on Google and he was right about the occurrences.


>Are there any times when it would be OK to use

>"an" before a word beginning with "w"?

>I'd be interested to know what the BNC or other corpora show up on that.




>Ramesh Krishnamurthy wrote:

>>Hi Diana

>>Sorry about the brevity of my previous email.

>>I didn't mean to be rude, just in a hurry as usual...


>>But I was raising a genuine concern of mine. An

>>experience last year: challenged in

>>my daughter's school playground by 2 mothers

>>who had heard of my involvement with

>>writing dictionaries, I was asked to resolve

>>their dispute: "is unpunctual a word, can I

>>say unpunctual".


>>It was not listed in any of the printed 6 or 7 native-speaker (US and UK) and

>>learner's dictionaries I looked at. There were

>>15 occurrences in Bank of English (5 in British

>>Magazines, 4 in Independent, and a few

>>one-offs), so below the normal threshold for inclusion

>>in Cobuild at the time.


>>But I found 4320 hits on Google (43,100 today!

>>- so has its usage increased, or has Google's

>>trawl just got bigger?), *mostly entries in

>>online dictionaries (based on each other?)*...

>>but also 9000+ for impunctual, 5000 for non-punctual,

>>500 for nonpunctual, 400 for contrapunctual, 11

>>for apunctual, and 7 for anti-punctual...


>>When I looked closer at the hits, most of the

>>hits for impunctual were from a 1913 USA dictionary,

>>most of the hits for non(-)punctual were

>>(technical use) from linguistics texts, and

>>most hits for contrapunctual were from music texts.


>>So I told the mothers that unpunctual was a valid word form

>>(ie created according to valid derivational rules)

>>but that it wasn't very widely used.


>>PS I've just noticed a discussion on unpunctual at








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