[Corpora-List] Google searches as linguistic evidence

Alison Duguid duguid at unisi.it
Thu Dec 7 20:00:01 CET 2006


Looks like a case of shifting or wobbly priming to me, as Michael Hoey
has pointed out education has a key role in priming and the problem
might be caused by doubt in a situation when fears about correctness are
uppermost because shifting identities are at work. The questioner is
really asking someone who is perceived to be a native speaker of a
variety (academic/correct) in which he felt he was not a native, what
would be the acceptable version.
Also look how many hits you get for 'nucular', and then look again at
the co-texts and contexts. Quantitative needs to be tempered with
qualitative research.


Geoffrey Sampson wrote:


>An amazing experience I had a few years ago was being asked in all

>seriousness by one of my part-time researchers whether "a bad egg" or

>"an bad egg" was correct. With another part of his time he worked for a

>company alongside another man who had to do some documentation and

>insisted that the correct form was "an bad egg". So far as I could make

>out, this other man (who, like my researcher, was as I understood it a

>native speaker) thought he had learned a rule that "a" v. "an" depends

>on whether the following noun begins with a vowel, and this explicit

>rule overrode in his mind what must surely have been a large weight of

>experience implying that it is not the following noun, but the

>immediately-following word, that matters. The third party was quite

>sure that only "an bad egg" would do in writing; my researcher was

>dubious, but felt he needed my professorial authority to contradict his

>colleague. This seemed to me very striking counter-evidence against the

>idea that native speakers "know" the rules of their language.

>Comparable misunderstandings of the a/an rule might perhaps explain

>sporadic cases of "an w..." written by people who would surely _say_ "a

>w..." when they were speaking spontaneously, without thinking about

>language issues.

>

>Geoffrey Sampson

>

>

>............................................................

> Prof. Geoffrey Sampson MA PhD MBCS CITP ILTM

>

> author of "The 'Language Instinct' Debate"

>

> Department of Informatics, University of Sussex

> Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, England

>

> www.grsampson.net +44 1273 678525

>............................................................

>

>

>

>

>

>








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