@GramTime [email protected]: Alphabetical index of usage questions (the whole list) ****************************************************

@GramTime News@: Alphabetical index of usage questions (the whole list) ****************************************************

@GramTime [email protected]: Alphabetical index of usage questions

(the whole list)

****************************************************

A vs. an before h as in historical

Abbreviations 1 - article or no article: the EU vs. EU

Abbreviations 2 - periods or no periods: the E.U. vs. the EU

Abbreviations 3 - plurals of CD etc.

A couple years vs. a couple of years

Acquit on vs. acquit of

Abstract adjectives used as heads of noun phrases

Adverbs in -wise

Adverbs with and without -ly: dig deep vs. dig deeply

Adverbs with and without -ly 2:slow vs. slowly etc.

Advice used as a countable noun

AD 70 vs. 70 AD

Agreement 1:That don't impress me much

Agreement 2 (attraction errors): The key to the cabinets were broken

Almost and nearly

Amazed/surprised at vs. amazed/surprised by

Among vs. amongst

Angry at vs. angry with vs. angry about vs. angry over

Anyways, anywheres, everywheres, nowheres and somewheres

Apart from

A police

Apologizing in English

Arabian vs. Arabic vs. Arab

As happy as vs. so happy as in affirmative and negative clauses

Asian vs. Asiatic

Aside vs. to the side vs. to one side after verbs like brush, leave, put etc.

At the beginning/end vs. in the beginning/end

At the end of the day

At the receiving end vs. on the receiving end

At X level vs. on X level

Australian spelling

Awesome

Bandwagon - jump on the etc.

Beat about the bush vs. beat around the bush

Because of, due to, on account of, owing to and thanks to

Become amazed, surprised etc.

Behave vs. behave oneself

Be/stay home vs. be/stay at home

Book/lecture/news etc. on vs. book/lecture/news etc. about

Born - past or present tense?

Both - as well as

Can't not

Cast doubt on vs. cast doubt over/upon/about, cast/shed/throw light on vs. cast/shed/throw light upon/over

Collocations with argue, criticize and discuss

Comma before and

Comparable with vs. comparable to

Compare with vs. compare to

Comparing two things: the comparative or the superlative form?: the younger of the twins vs. the youngest of the

twins

Comparing two-syllable adjectives: gentle, shallow, happy, common, cruel, polite etc

Compromisers: fairly, pretty, quite, rather

Computer mice vs. computer mouses

Conditionals: if I had been vs. had I been

Content vs. contents

Contracted verb forms

Conversational turns 1: greetings: How do you do? etc.

Conversational turns 2: making suggestions: Why don't we...? etc.

Conversational turns 3: asking permission: Can I...? etc.

Conversational turns 4: greetings: Hello vs. Hi

Country names in the singular: article or no article? Congo vs. the Congo

Country names in the plural: article or no article? Bahamas vs. the Bahamas

Country names: referred to as it or she?

Crusade

Customs

Dare and need: auxiliaries or main verbs?

Data and media: singular or plural?

Dates

Didactic, didactics and didacticism

Die of vs. die from

Different from vs. different than vs. different to

Disappointed about vs. at vs. by vs. in vs. with

Disinterested and uninterested

Diss

Don't let's and let's don't

Doping vs. drugs

Dream about vs. dream of

Due to

Eat dinner vs. have dinner

Either, neither and none (concord)

Everybody is vs. everybody are

Every + plural noun: every Mondays

Every second vs. every other vs. every two

Evidences

Exactly the same vs. the exact same

Expert/specialist in vs. expert/specialist on vs. expert/specialist at

Expound on vs. expound upon

Female-first or male-first choices: women and men vs. men and women

Few in temporal expressions: the last/past days vs. the last/past few days

Few vs. couple of in phrases like the last few/couple of years

Fill in vs. fill out

First - second vs firstly - secondly

First name, given name, Christian name and forename

First person pronouns in academic writing (I and we)

Footballer's perfect

Foreign newspapers - article or no article: the Dagens Nyheter vs. Dagens Nyheter

Foreign plurals 1: referendums vs. referenda

Foreign plurals 2: criteria used as a singular form

Fortnight

Friendly and other -ly adjectives used as adverbs

Frown on vs. frown upon

The Full Monty

Fun vs. funny

Genitive with geographical nouns: Sweden's economy vs. the economy of Sweden

Genitive with names in -s: Charles' vs. Charles's

Geographical names - referred to by it or she?

Get hold of vs. get a hold of

Good luck with vs. good luck on

Graduate college vs. graduate from college

Handsome and beautiful

Hammock

Harmful/harmless to vs. harmful/harmless for etc.

Have in questions: Have you any money? vs. Have you got any money? vs. Do you have any money?

Have difficulty/difficulties doing sth vs. have difficulty/difficulties in doing sth

Have it /so/ good

Have someone do something vs. have someone doing something vs. have someone to do something

Have use for vs. have use of

Hewed vs. hewn

Hoved into view

How big of a... vs. How big a... etc.

I vs. me: between you and I/me, better than I/me

If not

I forget vs. I've forgotten, I'm told vs. I've been told

I'm good vs. I'm fine

Immune from vs. immune to

Impopular vs. unpopular

In comparison with vs. in comparison to

In connection to vs. in connection with

In control of vs. in control over

Indefinite pronouns and noun phrases - referring back to words like someone and a friend

Ill and well with attributive function

In X continent vs. on X continent

In the outskirts vs. on the outskirts

In the picture vs. on the picture vs. at the picture

Injury time, stoppage time, added time etc

Inside/outside vs. inside of/outside of

It's (high) time we left vs. It's (high) time we leave vs. It's (high) time to leave

It was in the paper/on the television about...

Key as an adjective: very key moments

Knock at vs. knock on

Knowledge - article or no article: a good knowledge of vs. good knowledge of

Knowledge of vs. knowledge about

Knowledges and harms - the use of uncountable nouns in the plural

Lay used intransitively

Link, connect, connection to vs. link, connect, connection with

Littler/littlest

Logical plurals I: My children have good appetite(s)

Logical plurals II: Chapter(s) one and two

Logical plurals III: Life vs. lives

Look forward to etc.: ing-form vs. simple form of the verb

Mankind vs. humankind

Men's and women's use of adjectives

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Christmas

Momentarily and presently

Most as an alternative to almost: most everything

Musical instruments - article or no article: play the piano vs. play piano

Nationality words in -ese - singular forms (a Chinese)

Nationality words: Britain vs. the British

Need something doing

Next vs. the next

Nonsense vs. a nonsense

Number of: singular vs. plural form of the verb

Off the coast vs. outside the coast

Of which all/many/two vs. all/many/two of which

Old vs. elderly

On average vs. on the average

One as a pro-form: the old vs. the old one

One hundred twenty vs. one hundred and twenty

One in three (concord)

On someone's birthday vs. at someone's birthday

On the other side

Ought to as a main verb

Out of curiosity vs. from curiosity

Out the room vs. out of the room etc.

Out the window vs. out of the window etc.

Participate in vs. participate at

Particularly (not)

Pedagogic vs. pedagogical

Percentage, the majority of etc. (concord)

Personal pronouns in the plural (informal variants) Y'all, you guys and yous(e)

Persons vs. people

Pled vs. pleaded

Plenty of

Plural invariable nouns with singular agreement (The scissors is...)

Plurals of compound nouns(mothers-in-law vs. mother-in-laws)

Police - with or without the definite article

Political ideologies etc. - small or capital letter: communism vs. Communism

Politically correct occupational terms: chairperson, spokesperson, firefighter etc.

Politics: singular or plural?

Prefer ... than (witout rather)

Preposition or no preposition with the days of the week (We'll meet Monday vs. We'll meet on Monday)

Preposition + possessive pronoun + ing-form vs. preposition + personal pronoun + ing-form: We talked about him

moving to a new apartment vs. We talked about his moving to a new apartment? etc.

Preposition + Swedish att ('to'/'that'): aware (of) the fact that etc.

Preposition + who/whom

Prepositional variation: American English vs. British English

Preterite verb forms used as past participles 1 (I have came...)

Preterite verb forms used as past participles 2 (after different forms of have)

Prize for vs. prize in

Progressive form of stative verbs: He is loving...

Protest against vs. protest about vs. protest at (or no preposition at all)

Pupils and students

Quantifiers: a lot of, lots of, plenty of, a great deal of, many

Quick(ly) and slow(ly)

Quotation marks

Rather than + ing-form vs. rather than + simple form of the verb

Read English vs. study English

Reason for sb/sth to do sth vs. reason for sb/sth doing sth

Reflexive vs. personal pronouns: She closed the door behind her(self).

Reflexive pronouns (informal variants): hisself, theirselves, theirself, themself

Regular vs. irregular verb forms of verbs like dream - dreamed/dreamt

Regular vs. irregular verb forms revisited

Repetition of is, as in

The problem is is that… .

Reputedly

Researches

Rooster vs. cock

Said X vs. X said

Satire of vs. satire on

Score into an vs. the empty net

Seasons and holidays - article or no article: in the spring or in spring

Ships - referred to by it or she?

Shoot to death vs. shoot dead

Showed as a past participle

Shut off vs. turn off

Siblings

Simple past vs. present perfect (British vs. American English)

Singular quantifiers (a great deal, a X amount, less etc.) with plural nouns

Smitten by vs. smitten with

So not (as in It's so not fair)

Specialize on vs. specialize in

Split infinitives I

Split infinitives II

Sport vs. sports

Stomachache/earache vs. a stomachache/an earache

Stridden vs. strode vs. strid (the past participle of stride)

Subjunctive vs. indicative: They demand that he wear(s)...

Subjunctive vs. indicative (past): If I were you vs. If I was you etc.

Succeed to do something vs. succeed in doing something

Such vs. what in exclamations: Such/What lovely weather!

Surname vs. last name vs. family name

Take ill vs. be taken ill

Temperature words: Fahrenheit vs. Celsius vs. Centigrade

Ten thousands of vs. tens of thousands of

Thanking responders: You're welcome, That's OK, Anytime, dude?

There's with plural subjects

The strange thing about vs. the strange thing with

They/them who/whom

Titles 1 - small or capital letter: prime minister vs. Prime Minister

Titles 2 (female): Miss, Mrs and Ms

Too long a day etc. vs. a too long day etc.

Trouser (singular form)

Try and + VERB vs. try to + VERB

Turn pale vs. go pale vs. grow pale vs. become pale

Twice vs. two times

Types/sorts/kinds of + singular or plural noun: types of book vs. types of books

Uncountable nouns in individuating constructions: a piece of furniture

Until vs. till vs. 'til

Use as a countable noun: You have only two uses left

Used to in questions and negative statements

Use to as an infinitive form

Wait on meaning 'wait for'

Watch television vs. watch the television

Which referring back to human beings

Who vs. whom

Who of

With all due respect

Without a doubt vs. without doubt

Woman and women

Woman/women doctors etc. vs. female doctors etc.

Would in if-clauses

Would like for to...

Years ago vs. years back

Years of age vs. years old/young

Sidansvarig:

Maria Estling Vannestål

Uppdaterad/kontrollerad 2009-09-28

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

05:1, January 2005

Welcome to the twenty-sixth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Book tip

4. GramTime Publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

Can we say that Småland has been almost deforested due to a historical storm? Or that it has been nearly deforested thanks to an historical storm? Or that there are nearly no trees left standing? Or should it be almost no trees? For every meaning a language user wants to communicate, there are innumerable choices to be made.

Sometimes the choices lead to differences in style, sometimes to differences in acceptability, sometimes to differences in perceived meaning. And sometimes even to communication breakdowns as bad as that which befell many countryside dwellers who, like Maria, had to survive for weeks without working phone lines and

(consequently, and even worse) Internet connection.

In this issue we solve some of the linguistic problems mentioned above but can offer no advice or suggestions regarding changing climatic conditions or lacking maintenance of telephone and power lines. These lie slightly outside our range of expertise.

In this issue's book tip, I recommend the reading of one of David Crystal's recent books, The Language

Revolution. It deals with three truly global phenomena that are likely to change our lives just as much as global

warming: the spread of English as a global language, the death of many local languages and the influence of the

Internet.

In the meantime, we wish you a very Happy Easter (or, if you prefer, Holi festival, Hola Mahalla, Purim or just a celebration of the return of light)!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. I have sometimes seen phrases like an historical introduction and an hotel where one would expect

a historical introduction and a hotel. This looks odd to me. Is it common?

This probably looks odd to many people, and a is definitely the more frequent alternative in such cases. This variation is mainly found with words of Romance and Greek origin, and especially those which are not stressed on the first syllable and where the initial <h> may be mute. It should be emphasized that words with an unpronounced <h> as in hour and honour always take an, and for words stressed on the first syllable like

husband and honey, a is obligatory.

Typical examples of variation are seen in (1) to (6).

(1) There is an historical exhibit in Oberammergau this year showing the evolution of passion plays. (NYT)

(2) Time Warner's earnings were reported on a historical basis, which means they included 59.3 percent of

Warner's profits starting in August. (NYT)

(3) It's learned, hieratic, almost classical music, made by players from an hereditary elite. (BNC)

(4) The rich were not a hereditary class, for most wealthy men were self-made. (BNC)

(5) We are not an hotel. (BNC)

(6) "This is not a hotel!" he said. (BNC)

Interestingly, my computer's grammar checker marks (3) and (5) - but not (1) - as being incorrect.

The variation between a and an was investigated in 2003 by the linguist Julia Schlüter in her paper "Phonological determinants of grammatical variation in English: Chomsky's worst possible case". Her findings (some of which are presented in Table 1) clearly indicated that there is more variation in BrE than in AmE with such words. One item that she did not include in her survey was the noun herb. Svartvik & Sager's university grammar (1996:170) notes that usage is variable before <h>, and the only hint of a dialectal difference they give is that an herb is

"only AmE". Examples of herb from AmE can be seen in (7) and (8) below.

(7) I like to give these standards a new twist, however, sometimes by adding an herb that lends an unexpected taste to an old favorite. (NYT)

(8) Prices start at $9 for a herb jar. (NYT)

We compared herb and some of the more frequent words (historical, historian, hereditary and hotel) from

Schlüter's study with material from the New York Times and the British National Corpus (BNC) in Table 1.

Table 1. The variable use of a and an before <h> in AmE and BrE (in part based on Schlüter)

Guardian Detroit Free Press

BNC

NYT

1990, 1995, 2000

a an historical

58% 42%

a an a an a an

N % N % N % N %

87% 13% 297 61 190 39 637 96 25

4

historian

62% 38%

hereditary

63% 37%

93% 7%

hotel

-

herb

98%

100%

100%

-

2% 91

68

43 32 575 98 13

2

0% 31

65

17 35 41

91

4

9

0% 792

91

81 9 1827 100 2

0

43 100 0

0

10 9 97 91

Several findings emerge from the table. To begin with, a is preferred both in AmE and BrE. AmE has almost universally adopted a for words like historical and hereditary. BrE still has a considerable degree of variation with

historical, historian and hereditary, while a hotel is clearly preferred to an hotel. Herb is an exception since AmE prefers an very strongly while BrE seems to have adopted a without exception. These findings were confirmed in a small elicitation experiment with two native speakers of BrE and one of AmE. An was deemed to be oldfashioned and formal by one speaker of BrE, while the other did not like it at all. Only the speaker of AmE liked

an herb in (7). Both speakers of BrE rated an herb as unacceptable. It is generally the case that frequency correlates closely with acceptability in investigations like this.

To conclude, at least BrE still permits an before some words that are not stressed on the first syllable and which have an optionally mute <h>. A is the more frequent alternative, and there is probably a/an historical trend towards an increased usage of a in these cases so learners can be advised to stick to a. But as always, it is good to know about variation.

ML

2. What is the difference between the adverbs almost and nearly? Are they synonyms?

This is an interesting question which raises a number of important issues. First of all, are there true synonyms in any language? Many linguists do not believe that this is the case. One of these is Dwight Bolinger, who argues that "if two ways of saying something differ in their words or their arrangement they will also differ in meaning" (1977:1). The vital point in this issue is, as the philosopher Quine puts it, that the sameness of meaning comes down to what counts as relevant difference.

Our large-scale corpora enable us to look at the sameness of (near-)synonyms from many perspectives: their frequencies, their collocations, their interchangeability, their colligations and their semantic prosodies (these terms are explained below). This is what one of our students, Fredrik Svensson, did with almost and nearly in his excellent C-essay.

The material for his study of almost and nearly consisted of The New York Times, The Independent and American speech from The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC). The first difference concerned the frequencies of the adverbs. Almost was the more frequent alternative in writing – and considerably more frequent than nearly in

AmE speech, as seen in Table 1.

Table 1. The frequency of almost and nearly in the corpora

almost nearly

Number % Number %

431 30 1016 70

Ind (Jan, 1995)

NYT (Jan, 1995)

1301 57

1211 95

LSAC

984 43

60 5

A supplementary search in the British National Corpus suggests that almost is used in 73% of the cases. Thus it can be concluded that there is a clear frequency difference between almost and nearly. An important question is

whether this difference in frequency is caused by a lack of interchangeability, i.e. that there are contexts where one of the alternatives is disallowed. There are indeed some contexts which require one of the alternatives. Quirk et al (1985:447) note that only nearly can be used after the three adverbs not, very and pretty. Hence almost is not possible in (1) – (3) below:

(1) Public respiratory distress, though evident, was not nearly as disruptive. (Ind)

(2) Ramsey denounced the book, very nearly causing a schismatic rift between his diocese and that of

Southwark. (Ind)

(3) This is the case with ivory, which is pretty nearly tooth material. (BNC)

There are also some restrictions on the use of nearly. Nearly can only be used to modify assertive pronouns and determiners (Quirk et al. 1985:450). Thus, in (4) where there is a negated determiner, only almost can be used.

(4) Under the proposal, there would be almost no Federal restrictions on how states used the Federal money (…).

(NYT)

These "knock-out" factors were not very common, however. Almost was excluded in 31 of the 560 tokens of

nearly (5.5%), while nearly was excluded in only seven out of 750 tokens of almost (0.9%). Svensson concludes that "since nearly is the less frequent word, its lack of interchangeability is not an aspect that affects the overall frequency of the two words".

The term collocation refers to which words tend to occur together, while colligation refers to which words tend to co-occur with certain word classes. As regards colligation, nearly preceded numerals (e.g. nearly ten) in about half of all instances in the newspapers. Almost was strikingly different in that adjectives (almost impossible) and adverbs (almost always) represented a quarter of all tokens each.

An important finding as regards collocations and interchangeability found by Svensson was that nearly almost

[sic] never precedes adverbs ending in -ly. There were 68 tokens of almost modifying such adverbs overall, as exemplified in (5), but only two cases of nearly, as in (6). The latter example sounds a bit clumsy with no fewer than four -lys in one short sentence.

(5) They fell behind by two goals and almost completely collapsed (…). (NYT)

(6) Speaking politely but nearly inaudibly, she was obviously ill at ease. (NYT)

There is a general tendency in languages to avoid the repetition of similar forms. Günter Rohdenburg has suggested that this explains, for instance, why few people say it is starting raining, and instead go for it is

starting to rain.

The most frequent collocates following almost in the newspapers were a (27), as (25), certainly (18) and all (17).

For nearly, the most frequent collocates were all (41), a (38), half (23) and three (22). There are thus both similarities and differences between the two. It is noteworthy that most of the remaining frequent collocates of

nearly were numerals.

The final and perhaps most interesting aspect considered by our student was semantic prosody. Semantic prosody refers to how the meanings of words are perceived. There is, for example, a difference between the nouns youngster and youth since the former is often perceived as nicer. Thus, if someone is attacked by a gang of young people, these often tend to be referred to as youths, rather than youngsters. Another clear example of semantic prosody is given by Partington (1998:66f), who argues that the verb commit is normally used with negative collocates, such as the words crime, murder or suicide, while the verb provide normally co-occurs with positive words such as care, food, help and money.

Svensson states that "it is rather obvious that nearly is strongly preferred with verbs carrying negative meanings". This is based on the fact that all the eleven verbs occurring with nearly in LSAC were negative, and that 34 of 37 verbs in Ind and 24 of 27 verbs in NYT are also clearly negative. These pretty remarkable findings are exemplified in (7) to (10).

(7) Cougars, once nearly wiped out by human exterminators, have re-established themselves naturally (…). (NYT)

(8) The Shankill bombing also nearly destroyed the bridges (…). (Ind)

(9) Britain's judiciary was nearly ruined in recent years by the old wound of Ireland (…). (Ind)

(10) I nearly froze to death (…). (LSAC)

A native speaker of AmE who was asked to include either almost or nearly in a number of sentences claimed she only rarely used nearly. Thus she preferred almost in most of the examples. However, when presented with (7) and (8) she wrote "Hmmm. It's actually easier to say nearly here…". This is a good example of native speakers not being aware of the semantic prosodies of the words they use - but that they unconsciously produce these patterns anyway.

Most of the remaining verbs with nearly in the newspapers came from the set double, triple, quadruple and halve,

(as in (11) below). This is probably connected to the propensity of nearly to co-occur with words and phrases expressing amount and number.

(11) The Union Carbide Corporation said yesterday that its earnings nearly quadrupled in the fourth quarter (…).

(NYT)

In summary, if we count frequency, colligation, collocation and semantic prosody as relevant differences between words, we must conclude that although almost and nearly are interchangeable in most contexts, the differences between these words are so great that we cannot really call them true synonyms. These two adverbs are just almost (or nearly) synonymous.

ML

3. Are there any differences between how because of, due to, on account of, owing to and thanks to are used?

In Swedish, a distinction is normally made between the phrases tack vare and på grund av, the former being associated with positive things ("positive semantic prosody", see further in Magnus's article on almost and nearly above), whereas the latter is more neutral and also used in negative environments ("negative semantic prosody"). The distinction is not always upheld, however, and tack vare is sometimes used with negative prosody as well, which is a source of irritation to some people.

But what about English? Are there any such distinctions between the corresponding complex prepositions because

of, due to, on account of, owing to and thanks to (all of which could probably be regarded as the results of a grammaticalisation process, where a lexical expression develops into a more grammatical one)? We consulted some dictionaries and usage guides for information. Svartvik & Svartvik (in their Handbok i engelska) point out that thanks to (like tack vare) should not be used in negative circumstances, and the dictionaries also observe that the expression is used to refer to something positive, but that it can further be used ironically with negative prosody. The Longman dictionary of contemporary English claims that on account of is mainly used with negative prosody ("becase of a problem or difficulty").

We also found some remarks on the level of formality. Svartvik & Svartvik write that due to, on account of and

owing to all belong to formal language, whereas because of is the most common alternative in spoken English.

The Longman dictionary agrees that due to and owing to are more formal than because of (but say nothing about

on account of in this respect), and that they are often used on signs, as in (1). This dictionary further adds that

thanks to is informal.

(1) All flights into London Heathrown have been delayed due to/owing to thick fog.

Most of the books consulted point out that some people consider it incorrect to use due to in the same way as

because of, owing to etc., and that it should only occur after the verb be, as in (2). However, some of them also recognize that this usage has become very frequent.

(2) The accident was largely due to human error.

A look into a sixty-million word copus showed that because of was the most frequent phrase with more than

10,000 examples, followed by due to with around 2,000 examples (instances of due to preceded by the verb

be were disregarded since the other expressions rarely occur in the same type of construction) and thanks to with around 1500 examples. Owing to was much less frequent (135 examples) and on account of least frequent with

113 examples. All the expressions except thanks to occurred mainly with negative prosody, as in (3) to (6). We have defined negative prosody as cases including either negations (like not and never) within the scope of the headword, or words with negative associations (such as death, danger, injury, loss, devastation and bad) in the

clause. Note especially example (5)!

(3) I have heard it suggested that you shouldn't take your baby to bed with you because of the risk of cot death, but there is no proof of this. (British magazine)

(4) For those who feel alienated from their mother due to abandonment, abuse or trauma in childhood and are thus themselves unable to show nurturing and caring attention to others. (British book)

(5) The standard of English generally is appalling I think. Gerald sits growling at the BBC when he watches TV on

account of their usage of English and their irritating way of emphasizing the wrong syllables (...) (British brochure)

(6) JONATHAN DAVIES is a doubt for Great Britain's Australian rugby league tour owing to a groin injury which will keep him out of Widnes's four remaining League matchesthis season, writes Ray French. (British magazine)

Interestingly, we also found a number of examples of thanks to with negative prosody, as in (7), so this phenomenon is obviously not restricted to Swedish. In some of these occurrences, thanks to seems to be used to create an ironic effect, as in (8).

(7) Thanks to fussy church authorities, her daughters could not lay hands on her Autobiography, and they needed advice on mental prayer. (American book)

(8) Can you imagine we now have the capo de famiglia of our Mafia installed in our White House, thanks to you

gringos. (American book)

Examples of positive prosody (words with positive associations, such as increase, devotion, kindness, beneficient and promising), as in (9) to (12), were much rarer, except with thanks to of course, which is illustrated in (13).

(9) Naturally, it was the elephant keeper who caught her attention initially because of his kindness. (American radio)

(10) Wine stocks are much higher now than at the equivalent time in 1993 due to the large 1994 vintage

(777,000 tonnes). (Australian newspaper)

(11) The sex is initially tremendous, on account of the single fact that she is so good at stretching her legs "till

ten to two", although conversation is not brilliant, even when she gets cramp. (British newspaper)

(12) The programme has a new set of muscles owing to some promising cast changes and format revisions had some cautionary words (...) (British book)

(13) Now, in the 1970s, thanks to a brilliant novel and the growing power of cinema in our popular culture,

Depardieu became a movie star and an international symbol of his generation. (American book)

Example (14) is interesting in that it contains both negative and positive aspects. In the normal case, absence would be interpreted as a negative element, but here it is the absence of something negative (toxic or allergic

phenomena) that is being talked about, which makes the overall prosody positive.

(14) This program promises 'spectacular results on the vascularization of the face, the improvement of the grain' of the skin and the attenuation of wrinkles, thanks to the complete absence of toxic or allergic phenomena.

(American book)

Some cases could be regarded as neither negative nor positive (often from scientific or pseudo-scientific sources), as in the following examples:

(15) If you instruct the subject to open his or her eyes, the whites of the eyes can look very pink for a second or so due to the relaxation of the eye muscles. (British book)

(16) The bun-shaped Chichen-Itza observatory, which the Spanish called the caracol, or snail, on account of the

spiral staircase in its dark centre, helped them to accumulate statistical data about the planet Venus over a period of almost four centuries. (British newspaper)

We further tried to establish whether there were differences between the five expressions as regards the proportions of negative, positive and neutral prosody, which involved some problems, since the because of, due

to and thanks to constructions were so frequent. Consequently, a sample had to be used with these phrases. In the case of due to and thanks to (where there were around 2,000 and 1,500 tokens respectively), only the occurrences in two of the subcorpora (American books and British books) were used, which resulted in 162 and

154 tokens respectively. In the case of because of (where there were about 10,000 tokens) a random sample of

200 tokens were taken from the same subcorpora that were used with due to and thanks to. Since there were fewer than 200 tokens of on account of and owing to and altogether, all the material was used.

Comparing the five expressions, we find that, as mentioned above, thanks to was more often used in positive environments than the other phrases (in 84% of the cases, compared to between 12% and 20% for the other expressions). As for the other four expressions, there were no big differences between them, but negative prosody was a bit more frequent with due to (80%) and owing to (76%) than with because of (69%) and on

account of (65%). Note, however, that this classification is somewhat subjective and that there were quite a few borderline cases.

Moving to various collocations (i.e words that occur in the textual environment) of the expressions we are investigating, we can note that the constructions (a/the/-) lack of is proportionally more frequent with due to, as in (17), and owing to, as in (18), than with because of, as in (19) and on account of (only one example). The reason could be that a construction with of occurring twice is felt to be awkward. There were no cases of lack of with thanks to (quite expectedly, since the majority of cases are used with positive prosody).

(17) Sadly, progress is slow due to lack of funds. (British tabloid)

(18) The sex war may have been called off owing to lack of interest. (British broadsheet)

(19) It had closed its border last week because of a lack of international aid to help handle the influx. (American radio)

Similarly, the fact that occured about ten times more often with due to, as in (20), than with because of, as in

(21). There was only one example each of thanks to the fact that and owing to the fact that (an incomplete construction from the spoken corpus) and a few examples of on account of the fact that, but, as mentioned above, owing to and on account of were much less frequent overall than the other three expressions.

(20) These costs will be further reduced by the relative cheapness of labour in the Soviet Union due to the fact

that a sizeable proportion of welfare benefits are paid by the state out of its own budget. (American book)

(21) I was interested in talking to you specifically about this story because of the fact that India is a country where women face enormous problems (...) (American radio)

Finally, we can observe that, in informal contexts, on account of sometimes combines with a finite clause, as in

(22). There were a handful of such expressions. This usage goes against the normal principle that a preposition can only be followed by a non-finite clause including a present participle (ing-form).

(22) Bill's a congenial man, a musician, plays old-timey guitar with the Fiddle and Bow Club, but he misses most weekend practices on account of on weekends, Bill is usually burying. (American radio)

So, summing up, it seems wise to recommend that learners of English use thanks to with positive prosody, whereas any of the other four constructions can be used in more negative or neutral circumstances.

ME

3. Book tip

Crystal, David. 2004. The Language Revolution. London: Polity Press. 135 pp. GBP approx. 13.-

In three recent books David Crystal dealt with important aspects of the international development of language:

English as a Global Language (reviewed by GTN in 1998), Language Death, and Language and the Internet

(reviewed by GTN in 2003). In his new publication, David Crystal claims that these books in fact describe a linguistic revolution (which he did not grasp at the time when he wrote them), and that we must deal with the consequences in the new century. Looking at English as a global language, language death and the Internet together, the picture of a totally new linguistic future emerges, Crystal claims.

No other language has had the kind of spread that English has. 400 million speak it as their mother tongue,

another 400 million use it as a second language in countries where it has an official role, and maybe 600 million speak it reasonably well as a foreign language in more than 100 countries where it is taught as the first foreign language. Admittedly, that is only one fourth of the world's population of 6 billion, but still the language is more pervasive than any other has been before. It is dominating in politics, economics, the press, advertising, broadcasting, motion pictures, popular music, travel and safety (Seaspeak at sea, Airspeak in the air), education and communication. Crystal believes that English will continue to grow, and that in the future people will be (at least) tri-dialectal. In Anglophone countries there would be the home dialect (like Liverpudlian or Texan), the national standard dialect (like British Standard English or American Standard English) and, finally, International

Standard English (which would lack the peculiarities of the national varieties, and perhaps be influenced by the large numbers of second and foreign language users). In countries like Sweden, we would be tri-lingual in this sense by speaking, e.g., the local Växjö dialect, standard Swedish, and International Standard English (at the same time being aware of the national varieties of English). On top of this, of course, many people in Sweden, including me, believe that we must keep up our proud tradition of speaking at least one more foreign language, e.

g. French, German or Spanish, and perhaps Chinese or Arabic as well. One exciting aspect of the English scenario, in any case, is that much of the focus of English moves from the British and Americans, who no longer

"own" the language, to English speakers in the rest of the world.

At the same time as English grows, many of the world's 6,000 languages are dying out - 3,000 may disappear in the next century. But it is wrong to blame only English; many local languages are pushed out by other majority languages like Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Chinese. Crystal likens the language situation to that of biological diversity: every extinct species is a loss forever, and the same goes for languages. He calls for the raising of language awareness along the line of environmental awareness - that is the challenge for the new century. In some cases languages can be revitalized, like Welsh, and in others they should at least be documented by linguists before the last speaker dies.

The third important factor in the language revolution is the Internet. According to Crystal, Internet language is not like speech, since it lacks all the non-verbal cues of speech, like tone of voice, intonation, facial expressions etc., and it is not like writing, since there are things like hypertext links and a certain instability of texts which tend to change over time. Therefore, the Internet is a new medium, after speech and writing, and this will have consequences for all languages, not only English (the Web did start out as English-only, but by 2002 less than

50% of it was in English).

The book ends with a list of 10 recommendations in order of priority, given here in abbreviated form: (1) Show concern for endangered languages. (2) Show concern for minority languages. (3) Show concern for accents and dialects. (4) Value different varieties and styles. (5) Get more multilingual. (6) Accept change in language. (7)-

(8) Show concern for those with learning difficulties and other language problems. (9) Bring the study of language and literature closer. (10) Appreciate the value of language in human development and society. Think of languages as national treasures!

This book is less detailed than the three previous books, but adds new thoughts about the future and a strong plea for action. Whether one believes in all the predictions and the suggested measures or not, these are absolutely questions that are worth pondering. For language teachers in Sweden, it also provides some very good arguments for the value of being multilingual that we can use in the current debate about the future of foreign languages in schools and at the universities.

HL

4.

GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

–––. 2004. Syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases with all, whole, both and half. Växjö: Acta

Wexionensia (diss.).

·

–––. 2004. Värsta språket på engelska - om variation och förändring i modernt engelskt språkbruk.

Smålandsposten 29/5 2004.

·

–––. Forthcoming. A university grammar of English with a Swedish perspective. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English (diss.).

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Maria Estling Vannestål. Forthcoming. Fatigue fatigue: The spread and development of a vogue word in

British and American English.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in June 2005.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

**************

98:3, December 1998

Welcome to the third issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter from the GramTime Project at Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief:

Hans Lindquist

, PhD

Managing editor:

Maria Estling

, MA

Contributing editors:

Jan Svartvik

, Prof Em and

Magnus Levin

, MA

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project : Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Book tips

4. Christmas competition

5. GramTime publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

The festive season is over us - Christmas trees and Santas wherever one looks. At the GramTime office the computer screens have taken on a special glow, and inspired the editors to put together a little Christmas

Competition. Good luck!

But of course we're also offering the more usual fare of usage questions and answers, as well as two book notices for those of you who are looking for interesting holiday reading.

Information about the newsletter in Moderna Språk and LMS Lingua recently has resulted in a surge of new subscribers, whom we are very happy to welcome. But we're still glad if you tell your colleagues about us!

Finally, on behalf of all the editors, I'd like to wish you

A Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!

Hans Lindquist

Project director, Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It has received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary

Foundation (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in

English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British,

American, Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic

● prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants work half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and

Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

The Longman American Spoken Corpus

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992-1995

In the near future, we will add the Wellington Corpus of Spoken New Zealand English, the Wellington Corpus of

Written New Zealand English, The Los Angeles Times on CD-ROM and The Times on CD-ROM to this list.

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Are abbreviations such as USA and EU used without the definite article? Are the names of ships always used with the definite article?

These are some of the questions which interest our readers. The answer is no - with some exceptions. The EU,

the UK as well as the USA are almost always used with the definite article in running text, as the following examples illustrate:

(1) The EU yesterday said it plans to include truckers and junior doctors in its 48-hour maximum working week. (British)

(2) The USA has imported some really excellent dogs (...) (British)

Instances without the article can be found in formulaic expressions (such as Made in USA), headlines (3) and listings (4):

(3) EU agrees truce in Eta extradition. (British)

(4) Iraq severs diplomatic relations with Egypt, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia, UK and USA. (British)

In addition, geographical names preceded by a premodifying adjective were found without an article in 1 token out of 20:

(5) Most importantly, this was almost entirely the result of immigration, first from the European countries and, following the First World War, from southern USA. (British)

The names of ships are generally used with the article, as in (6). When the name includes the British abbreviation

HMS the article is not used, whereas there is a strong tendency to use the article before SS (Steam Ship). With the American abbreviation USS it seems that both alternatives are equally common, cf. (7) and (8).

(6) (...) also the German submarine 'U' boats sank a civilian ocean liner, named the Lusitania with

the loss of 1,198 lives, including many citizens of the United States of America. (British)

(7) As a result HMS Agamemnon and USS Niagara took their cable on board and began laying in early August 1857. (British)

(8) The USS Tripoli's ordeal began at 4.36 on Monday as a moored mine struck the 18,000-ton helicopter carrier (...) (American)

Svartvik & Sager claim in their university grammar that the names of small boats are not used with the definite article. This cannot be checked easily in our corpora. However, we did make a spot check for the name Gipsy

Moth - the small sailing boat used by Francis Chichester to circumnavigate the earth - using the Internet. It appears that the two alternatives are about equally common. In example (9) the article is used, and in (10) - an authentic quotation from Chichester himself - it is not:

(9) Nearby is the Gipsy Moth IV. (British)

(10) Gipsy Moth IV has no sentimental value for me at all. She is cantankerous and difficult and needs a crew of three - a man to navigate, an elephant to move the tiller and a 3'6" (1.1m) chimpanzee with arms 8' (2.4m) long to get about below and work some of the gear. (British)

ML

2. Are titles like Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister etc. always written with capital letters?

Apparently there is some variation between different titles. Prime Minister seems to be written only with capital letters. This also applies to Queen when it refers to Elizabeth II or is used before the name of the regent (e.g.

Queen Silvia). The Chancellor of the Exchequer is almost always used with capital letters, but there is a small degree of vacillation, as (1) and (2) show:

(1) (...) she did not 'tell the truth' when she was asked why the former Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned by television interviewer Brian Walden. (British)

(2) When Britain's chancellor of the exchequer introduced his new tax on mobile telephones last week, he called them 'one of the greatest scourges of modern life.' (British)

Nurse is generally written with a capital letter when it is used as a title before a name, otherwise it isn't. This is exemplified in (3) and (4) below:

(3) Reminds me of Nurse Crane when I was doing surgery, said Toby. (British)

(4) My twin sister is a nurse (...) (British)

The same tendency can be observed with titles like for instance archbishop, captain and professor. This can be seen in (5) and (6) below:

(5) The archbishop could delay and immensely complicate matters (...) (British)

(6) The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday warned of the dangers of materialism and of a new

'meanness of spirit' afflicting the country. (British)

The recommended option for these titles could be formulated in the following way: Use the titles with capital letters when they precede the name and do not use capital letters otherwise, except for Prime Minister and

Chancellor of the Exchequer which should always be used with capital letters.

ML

3. Is the last days etc. ever used without few in sentences like He's been at home for the last (few)

days?

In their Engelsk universitetsgrammatik, Svartvik & Sager state that few is normally inserted into temporal phrases with last, past, next and first lacking a numeral. We checked with the CobuildDirect Corpus and found

some instances without few in our material, as illustrated in (1) and (2):

(1) Increasingly in the past weeks, authority in Berlin had been divorced from responsibility in the field. (American)

(2) I took little walks and noticed that in the last months the pain had actually coloured the landscape in a peculiar way. (British)

The verbs in the sentences without few were in many cases in the simple past or past perfect form, which could be of significance. Compared to those cases where few occurred, however, the number of instances without few was fairly low. There seem to be differences in usage according to which word (last, past, next or first) is used. In our material, constructions without few was particularly frequent with first (27%) and very infrequent with next

(2%). Past and last lacked few in 15% and 8% of the cases respectively.

Svartvik & Sager also say that in phrases with further specification (e.g. of the year) few is optional. Our material yielded around 40% with few, as in (3) and 60% without, as in (4).

(3) My first television programme, "Town and Gown" at Anglia, had been transmitted in the last few

days of 1959. (British)

(4) Erring on the side of caution, the Americans also endowed the enemy with an esprit and battlefield savvy that would prove wanting in the last days of the war. (British)

We also looked for examples like his last days to see whether people ever insert few into such phrases. According to Engelsk universitetsgrammatik, few is not inserted into expressions where last refers to something irrevocably final. However, we found a few examples (as illustrated in (5)), even though a construction without few seems to be far more frequent.

(5) And he did not return to BEA, but at war's end inherited a large Scottish estate, married, and lived his last few years as a wealthy landowner. (British)

ME

4. How frequent is types/sorts/kinds of books compared to types/sorts/kinds of book?

After phrases like types of, sorts of and kinds of we have a choice between using a singular noun (1) or a plural noun (2) - if the word is a count noun, that is.

(1) You can use the information contained in this book as a basis for planning your own feature according to the size of your garden and your own interests in particular types of plant. (British)

(2) The warmer a place is, generally speaking, the more types of plants and animals it will support.

(American)

Svartvik & Sager have perceived a tendency indicating that singular nouns are generally preferred by professionals (such as a geologist talking about all kinds of stone), whereas lay people will more often use plural nouns (all kinds of stones). Studying such differences would involve a careful analysis of the context of each example - too time-consuming an investigation at the moment.

We did, however, carry out a small study of general frequencies in the CobuildDirect Corpus and two newspaper corpora (The New York Times and The Independent from 1990) and found that there were fairly clear differences according to which partitive noun was used. A singular noun was more frequent in combination with type than with kind and sort. Since type is a more formal word than kind and sort, this result seems to be in line with the tendency that the use of a singular noun would be more formal than the use of a plural noun. There were also fairly substantial regional differences in that the use of a singular noun was far more frequent in the British material (56-59% for types, 19-30% for kinds and 3-9% for sorts) than in the American (6-16% for types, 1-8% for kinds and 1-3% for sorts).

ME

5. (a) How frequent is I look/am looking/forward to see you compared to I look/am looking/ forward

to seeing you? (b) Can you say I look forward seeing you?

The first of these related questions has to do with the problem of distinguishing the infinitive marker to and the preposition to. This is not always a straightforward task, although with look forward to native speakers seem to be quite consistent - in CobuildDirect we found 259 instances of the -ing form and only 7 with a verb in the infinitive, as in the following example:

(1) We look forward to serve your clients here in Iceland.

It is clearly advisable to avoid the infinitive after look forward to. We also looked at some similar verbs and adjectives. Be accustomed to is similar to look forward to, the figures being 110 for -ing and 6 for the infinitive as in examples (2) and (3):

(2) We are very honoured to present Labi, who is normally accustomed to playing larger venues and concert halls.

(3) The very plates from which she is accustomed to eat are apparently not hers at all, (...)

Other items, though, behave differently. With consent to, for instance, we found only 2 -ing forms as in (4) and 5 infinitive forms as in (5):

(4) (...) (previously, prisoners had to consent to being executed) (...)

(5) Such people are common in all forms of physical medicine and will only consent to see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist who will take their physical complaints seriously as the starting point of any discussion.

One explanation of the infinitive forms here could be that consent to is on its way to being reanalyzed as a simplex verb consent used with the infinitive. Finally we looked at be used to, and almost invariably found -ing forms. The only two infinitive forms were from American radio, and one was immediately corrected (6):

(6) They are used to obey orders, to obeying instructions.

Without making an exhaustive investigation of all verbs and adjectives in this group, we might conclude that the preposition analysis is always viable and often by far the most used, while at the same time there is some vacillation among native speakers, perhaps mainly with less common items.

Question (b) was asked by a colleague at another university, where students repeatedly claim that they have heard look forward without to. He (like us) thinks this sounds a bit odd, and it turns out that there were no instances of it in CobuildDirect. His (and our) guess is that these students may have failed to hear a quickly pronounced, reduced to. If any of our readers have come across cases of this missing to, please let us know!

HL

3. Book tips

Crystal plays with language

David Crystal: Language Play. London: Penguin 1998. 249 pages. Price: GBP 7.99.

When picking up Language Play, the latest book from the amazingly productive Holyhead desk of David Crystal, I mistakenly thought this would be just an encyclopedic collection of linguistic jokes. There are indeed hundreds of ludic illustrations, all properly analyzed in linguistic terms, such as these:

Semantic jokes like -"What do you get if you cross a sheep with a kangaroo?" -"A woolly jumper"; playful definitions like "Bibliography is the study of the Old Testament"; false French translations like

"coup de grâce = lawn mower"; culture-dependent manipulations like "Oedipus was a nervous rex" and "Coito ergo sum".

This book is a must for anyone interested in a linguistic approach to such ludic pastimes as nonce words, limericks, grid games, dialect humour, crosswords, headlinese, tongue-twisters, lipograms, palindromes, anagrams etc.

But halfway through the book, starting with the discussion of language play in relation to literacy, there is a change of mood. Children are great language players and, by the time they arrive in school, they have learned a significant portion of the structural rules of the language and a considerable vocabulary (according to Crystal, approaching 10,000 words). At school, however, language play has been traditionally frowned upon: "There is still a major cultural gap between the linguistic world of early childhood and the linguistic world children encounter when they begin to learn to read."

Crystal maintains that language play can provide the key to open the prison-house of reading and writing.

Considering the large numbers of school-leavers who never learned to read and write, we should welcome such critical attitudes to the one-sided language-as-information approach and much of the traditional methodology of literacy teaching which fails to make use of the pedagogical possibilities of linking humour and discovery: homo

symbolicus, yes, but homo ludens first.

JS

A world of English(es)

Tom McArthur: The English Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998. 247 pages. Price: approximately GBP 9.-.

The role of English as a world language is being eagerly discussed in many quarters. In this book, the Scottish linguist Tom McArthur deals with a large range of topics, including the relation between standard English and social and regional dialects, pidgins and creoles, the role and status of English, politics and language, and the

Ebonics controversy (about Black American English, currently called African American Vernacular English, AAVE).

He also speculates that English may develop into a family of languages, just like the Romance languages once did out of Latin. He does all this in a very personal and energetic fashion, providing an immense amount of facts, quotations, tables, diagrams and summaries in panels.

McArthur's position as the editor of the journal English Today and of the Oxford Companion to the English

Language (1992) has him placed right at the centre of the discussion about all these questions, and he obviously has access to large files of relevant material. This is one of the strengths of the book, but also its major weakness: All the lists and quotations sometimes makes it read like an undiscriminating collection of data, rather than an organic whole. This impression is partly explained by the fact that the book is based on a number of papers and talks, which inevitably leads to a certain amount of repetition. The volume might also have been more focused if some of the historical discussion, for instance regarding Latin, had been left out or reduced. Still, with these reservations, McArthur's book provides a wealth of information and many stimulating ideas that make it well worth reading.

HL

4. Christmas competition

For this little competition - aimed at keeping your brain cells busy during the holidays - we have chosen to look at a highly topical semantic field. The first ten questions concern what words can be expected in the surroundings of ten words associated with Christmas, and the final one is a tie-breaker concerning word frequency. We used a sample of our corpora, amounting to approximately 16 million words of text from various British and American books and radio programmes.

Now, which do you believe was the most frequently occurring lexical word (function words disregarded) within a span of 3 words to the left and 3 words to the right of each of the following items:

Node

word

Alternative

A

(1)

Christmas

carol

(2) celebration Christmas

(3)

(4)

snow

turkey*

melt(ing)/ melted sandwich

Alternative

B tree birthday

Alternative

C merry family

Alternative

D card anniversary snort(ing)/ snorted fall(ing)/ fell/fallen white stuff(ing) Thanksgiving Christmas

(5)

holiday

(6)

joy

(7)

fat (noun)

(8)

shopping

Christmas tears low window

(9)

ice

cream

(10)

pudding

Christmas summer wheel saturated duty-free cold chocolate season holy sugar mall snow plum bank pride calories

Christmas skate/skating/ skated rice

* The proper noun Turkey was not included.

And then to the tie-breaking question. In our 16-million-word sample, there were 126 instances of the word

Easter. How many times do you think Christmas occurred?

You can win a copy of the brand-new volume The Major Varieties of English. Papers from MAVEN 97 (see publication list) where questions like the following are discussed:

What are the major varieties of English?

How is English developing in different parts of the world?

Are national varieties of English converging or diverging?

What model should be chosen by EFL learners?

Please send your answers (+ your name) to

[email protected]

. Don't forget the tie-breaker! The name of the winner will be presented in the next issue of GramTime News.

5. GramTime publications

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of

versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University - Humanities.

---. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och

● amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk,

1/98.

---. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

---. 1998c. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist, Hans, Staffan

Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds).

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British

● and American English. In Lindquist, Hans, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds).

---. (forthcoming) Electronic corpora as tools for translation. Gunilla Anderman & Margaret Rogers (eds).

Word, text and translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

---, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers

from MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

Svartvik, Jan & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds).

From Ælfric to the New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to

[email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the next newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in February 1999.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

**************

99:4, December 1999

Welcome to the seventh issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter from the GramTime Project at Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling , MA

Contributing editors: Jan Svartvik , Prof Em and Magnus Levin , MA

Contents

0 . Editorial

(HL)

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. Christmas competition

5 . GramTime publications

6 . Practical information

7 . The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

I had decided not to mention the new millennium in this editorial - but it seems impossible not to. And there is at least one relation to English usage: will English speakers say "two thousand and five", "two thousand five",

"twenty hundred and five" or "twenty oh five"? We will follow the development closely.

This is the last issue of GramTime News emanating from the GramTime Project, which will be closing down on

December 31. But don't despair: like so many other entrepreneurs, we will continue our business under another name from the next day! This means that we will keep GramTime News alive as a hobby project as long as we feel we are doing something worthwhile.

The major motivation for starting the newsletter two years ago was our wish to communicate with teachers and others interested in new developments in modern English. We have especially enjoyed it when the communication was two-way, and with this issue we invite you not only to send in queries as usual, but also to show off your wit in the Christmas competition! If you have any good web tips of your own we would like to hear those as well.

As I write this I have just packed my bags in preparation for a flight to San Francisco tomorrow morning. I'll spend December there, investigating what the Americans are doing to the language at the moment. More about that in our future issues!

In the meantime, we wish all our readers an enjoyable month of December and a restful Christmas holiday!

Hans Lindquist

Project director, Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It has received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants work half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Is the expression to read English replacing to study English?

In school I learnt that you cannot translate the Swedish word läsa referring to the study of a particular subject into English by means of the verb read. Only much later did I realize that read English is a possible construction, but that the usage is restricted to courses at university level. One of our readers wonders: Has read overtaken

study in this sense?

Dictionaries differ slightly in their treatment of the expression read + subject (e.g. English). The Longman

Dictionary of Contemporary English states that read English is British usage. The Cambridge International

Dictionary (CIDE) makes the same observation, and adds that this is formal language, whereas the Collins

Cobuild English Language Dictionary says nothing about regional or stylistic restrictions.

Now, what do our corpora have to say on the matter? First of all, they clearly support the claim made by two of the dictionaries consulted regarding regional variation. The American sources provided very few examples of read

+ subject. In the British material, however, read was frequent, occurring in about one third of the cases of read/

study + subject. Since most certainly some of the tokens with study concerned non-university contexts (it was sometimes impossible to tell whether they did or not), it may very well be that the construction is even more frequent relatively. Here are some examples from our corpora:

(1) He read classics and then English at Oxford University and he has a higher degree for research into organizational change.(British books)

(2) Coposu was educated at the Greek Catholic college in Blaj, and at Cluj University, where he read law. (British newspaper)

(3) Wilson had read history at Oxford. (American newspaper)

The dictionary entry in CIDE suggested that read is restricted to formal usage, but I also found quite a few tokens in rather informal contexts, such as the following example, which is from the spoken British component of

CobuildDirect:

(4) Er y a friend of mine who came up he's dead now he was erm he came up to read English at Birmingham fro with me from erm from Stratford Grammar School (...)

ME

2. Is it a nonsense to say a Chinese?

The phrase a nonsense has been commented on by Sidney Greenbaum who, after fifteen years in America, returned to Britain. The only grammatical change he noticed was that the word nonsense was being used with the indefinite article, as in (1) below, while he had only heard the noun without the article before, as seen in (2):

(1) What a nonsense it all was! (British)

(2) That's nonsense, Darren. (British)

However, it must be pointed out that the form without the article is still much more frequent than the form with the article.

In some rare cases an adjective denoting an upper extreme of a scale, such as absolute or complete, is inserted between the article and the noun. This is exemplified below:

(3) 'Besides,' Madame added, when she herself had also taken a sweet, 'it is a complete nonsense.' (British)

About a third of the tokens of a nonsense were found in the expression make a nonsense of something, which, according to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, means 'to show that a previous action or idea was useless and had no meaning', a usage which is exemplified in (4) below. This phrase is about equally common without the indefinite article, ((5) below):

(4) They omitted from their calculations two factors which were to make a nonsense of their plans. (British)

(5) It makes nonsense of the whole thing. (British)

Can it then be claimed that a nonsense is a British innovation? Judging from our corpora the phrase does not occur at all in American English, but interestingly enough the phrase seems to be as common in Australian

English as in British English. An authentic example from Australian English is seen in (6):

(6) Comparing the North Shore to South Sydney would have been a nonsense four years ago. (Australian)

If people from Australia and Britain sometimes say a nonsense, do they ever say a Chinese to refer to a person from China? Well, some cases of a Chinese can be found, although they are highly unusual – only a handful were found in 200 million words. (The derogatory word Chinaman should of course be avoided.) In (7) and (8) no specific Chinese individual is thought of and therefore no gender-specific noun, such as man or woman, is used to support the adjective:

(7) What's a Chinese to a white man? (American)

(8) As a waiter, the most polite approach to a customer who seems like a Chinese is to start by speaking the

Chinese language. You are always a Chinese no matter where you are. (American)

In contrast, as is well known, other nationality words which do not end in -ese are quite frequently used with the indefinite article even when they denote specific individuals:

(9) The Corresponding Members also included a German, an Italian and, more interestingly, an Indian (…)

(British)

When talking about a specific person of Chinese origin the nouns man and woman are used to support the adjective, as in (10) and (11) below:

(10) Fears are growing for a Chinese man missing for over three weeks. (British)

(11) 'Maybe you can help me,' mutters the gunfighter to the Chinese woman who runs an opium den, though she doesn't understand him. (American)

This usage is also very unusual. The gender-unspecified noun person was not found at all in the material. The strategy that is by far the most frequent is to use a more specific noun denoting a human being, such as

emperor, jornalist, researcher or spokesman, to support the adjective.

ML

3. Can you say who of?

One reader asked us whether there is an on-going change as to restrictions against the use of the interrogative pronoun who in combination with of? Our grammar books say that, even though who is the pronoun generally used to refer to human beings, which is used when we add a construction with of to express that we have a limited set of people to choose from, as in (1):

(1) I don't know which of them will have a heart attack first! (British)

In corpus material totalling about 60 million words of spoken and written British and American English, I found only three instances of who of, all of which where from spoken American texts and were combined with the personal pronoun us:

(2) Given the choice, who of us wouldn't prefer to go on fleeing from our history?

(3) And all of a sudden this pueblo that hadn't really had a problem before was now divisive over who of us is going to get this new thing that comes in (...)

Example (4) is particularly interesting, since it provides a combination of which and who:

(4) For some reason, it was important for them to know exactly which and who of us [are ] [Well, just] so they don't give us back to us (...)

There were a few further examples of who + of where the two words were separated by a comma, which makes the juxtaposition feel somewhat more natural:

(5) We shall never establish who, of all these great drivers, is "the best". (British)

It seems that, unless the use of who of is extremely recent usage, too new to be recorded in our corpora from the early and mid 1990s, who of is not a construction that is gaining ground in English. As Jan Svartvik points out in his book Engelska öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk (1999), one must not take one or two examples in a huge corpus as evidence that a partictular construction exists – the producer might be someone who is non-native, sloppy or drunk!

ME

4. Is it OK to say We have three cars, of which two are Volvos in stead of We have three cars, two of

which are Volvos?

Here is one more question about pronouns – relative ones this time. Every term my students find constructions with a quantifying pronoun or numeral + of which/whom – such as many of which and two of whom – extremely awkward and unfamiliar, and ask me if they cannot say of which many and of whom two instead. Grammar books, if they bring up the matter at all, generally suggest the many of which construction only, whereas they sometimes mention that it is possible, however infrequent, to use the other word order as an alternative with ofgenitives, such as the house the roof of which... the house of which the roof...

After a quick look in the corpus, we may conclude the following. In both British and American corpora postposed numerals were used in about 15% of the cases. There was neither a difference between which and whom, nor between spoken and written English. Here are some examples:

(1) (...) if an essential cluster of films were wanted, it need include only the films made of Haggard's novels and perhaps half a dozen others (of which two are from Hemingway) (British books)

(2) Benor has surveyed 131 controlled studies of spiritual healing published in the English literature, of which 56 showed statistically significant results. (American books)

(3) All the more since the 1500 delegates were officially sent by their bishops of whom 120 were also present.

(British books)

(4) On the leafy slopes of Arlington National Cemetery, Bush gathered with the families of the 390 American men and women who died during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, of whom 148 had been killed in action. (American books)

As for postposed pronouns, I found only three tokens in about 18 million words, all three of which (!) seem to have been used for stylistic reasons; the pronoun is expanded (all but five/a very few and some, at least) and the use of the regular word order would result in a rather clumsy construction.

(5) For more than an hour the Apaches battered the Iraqis with cannon fire, rockets, and 107 Hellfire missiles, of which all but five reportedly struck their targets.

(6) (...) there are two point five million vehicles erm which include er something like sixty thousand er minibuses er combis and larger minibuses erm about ninety thousand Volkswagen Beetle taxis of which all but a very few er date before nineteen-eighty-five (...) (spoken British)

(7) Similarly, insofar as modernization theorists concentrated on the nation-state (a charge of which some, at

least, are palpably innocent) they have ignored key features of modernization and development. (British books)

It seems that the word order with postposed quantifier is OK with numerals but not with pronouns. An investigation of word order regarding the of-genitive will be dealt with in a future issue of GramTime News.

ME

5. Which preposition should be used with adjectives like harmful, harmless, advantageous and

disadvantageous?

There is quite a lot of variation in this area, but overall the preposition to seems to be the most frequent choice, although for is quite common for particular adjectives. In some cases dictionaries mention that there is variation, in other cases they do not. One particular adjective which is claimed to occur with different prepositions is

damaging, which is seen in (1) and (2) with to and for, respectively:

(1) Any hold-up is potentially damaging to patients in the long run. (British)

(2) We keep constant watch on planning proposals and fight those which will prove damaging for birds. (British)

With 'negative' adjectives, such as damaging, harmful and detrimental the preposition for is rare or very rare.

With the 'positive' adjectives advantageous and beneficial the preposition is frequently for, although it is still three to four times less common than to. The different prepositions are seen below with two positive adjectives:

(3) The building professions are now questioning this rush to implement sophisticated technical systems that may not be advantageous for the occupiers. (British)

(4) Pérez de Cuéllar's report was widely regarded as having consequences advantageous to Morocco. (British)

(5) How can moderate drinking be beneficial to health? (British)

(6) This was supposed to be very good for skin problems, but one man was known to have visited it regularly to collect the water for his wife who found it beneficial for her arthritis. (British)

There does not appear to be any variation between British and American English in this area.

ML

6. Can you say I use to/don't use to go by bike to work?

When I recently talked to a group of teachers from Karlskrona about corpus linguistics and GramTime News, I got a question about the use of use. In Swedish the word for use, bruka can be used both in present and past tense, whereas the normal English way of expressing present tense is a construction with an adverbial such as usually.

Now, one of these teachers claimed to having heard people say things like I don't use to, and was a bit confused.

I promised to check with our corpora.

At first sight, it seemed that there were a small number of cases in the corpus, but, at closer examination, it turned out that most of these were typos for used to. I ended up with only one example, which was obviously produced by a non-native speaker – this is is revealed in the preceding text:

(1) But Lombardo insisted: "I have not had problems with the language. What I do know, I use to socialise with the lads and if I need extra help on the pitch, Tomas helps out."

It seems that, either this is something so new or so rare that it has not been reflected in our corpora, or the teacher's experiences of use to about present situations have been typos, "speakos" or perhaps "hearos" (these last two words I learnt from the Majority English Dibul, which was our website tip in the last issue of GramTime

News).

ME

7. Which is more frequent with abbreviations like The U.S., periods or no periods after the abbreviated letters?

The last question in this issue of GramTime News is another one from the Karlskrona teachers. An American man told me and the other participants that when he was a student in the States some 20 years ago, he would be corrected if he used abbreviations without periods between the letters, whereas nowadays this seems to be common usage. The question is: which way is more frequent?

These are the results of the corpus search. The first table shows abbreviations for political unions and organizations: The United Kingdom, The United States, The United Nations and The European Union. The second table contains abbreviations which are not proper names (although some of them include a proper name): for

example (exempli gratia), that is (id est), before Christ and in the year of the Lord (Anno Domini).

U.

K.

UK

U.S. US U.N. UN E.U. EU

British

2% 98% 21% 79% 2% 98% 0%

100%

American 2% 98% 39% 61% 23% 77% 0%

100% e.g eg i.e.

ie B.C. BC A.D. AD

British

60% 40% 61% 39% 5% 95% 7%

93%

American 97% 3% 97% 3% 79% 21% 90% 10%

From these tables we can see that there seems to be a clear difference in usage depending on whether the abbreviation refers to a political union (such as The United Nations) or not (such as for example). The form without periods dominated in the first case, even more so in the British material than in the American.

Interestingly, with the EU abbreviation, the form without periods was used in 100% of the cases. Could this fact reflect an on-going change towards the use of these abbreviations without periods, since EU is the most recent of the abbreviations?

As for the other expressions in table 2, the figures are somewhat more problematic. With the first two, e.g. and i.

e., the construction with periods dominate in both varieties, even though the difference was much more marked in the American material (97% with period) than in the British (60-61%). When it comes to the abbreviations expressing time before and after the birth of Christ, the figures in the British and the American material differed, with the construction without periods dominating in British English and the form with periods dominating in

Amerian English.

ME

3. Useful websites

A plethora of websites for anglophiles!

What about an on-line rack of newspapers, magazines, dictionaries and other goodies for people interested in

English? Such a website indeed exists. It is called The English Browser and is provided by Will Karkavelas at

Osaka University (Faculty of Language and Culture) in Japan. You will find the site at the following address: http://jupiter.lang.osaka-u.ac.jp/~krkvls/newsstand.html

In the "Newspaper rack" you can find links to the on-line editions of a large number of well-known quality papers in English from all over the world – Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK and the USA (both written without periods – see question 8 above!). You will, for instance, find The Guardian,

The India Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Washington Post. The "Magazine rack" contains Time,

Newsweek, National Geographic, Scientific American and many more titles, and in the "News networks and services" section you will get the website addresses to the BBC, the CNN, the CBS, the NPR (National Public

Radio) and other radio and TV companies.

If you go to the "Reference shelf", there is a list of on-line dictionaries, encyclopedias and grammars as well as handbooks on writing and literature, and if you are particularly interested in bilingual education, Shakespeare, corpus linguistics or gender studies you will find these and many other fields represented in the "Area studies shelf".

The English Browser is an enormous resource of Internet information, and it certainly saves you a great deal of work when it comes to finding useful websites. The only disadvantage could be that there is so much! When I first discovered the site I was slightly taken aback by the abundance of information. On the other hand, this is certainly something we will all have to learn to cope with in the new era of information technology...

ME

4. Christmas competition

Last year's Christmas competition concerned the frequencies of words in the textual environment of certain items associated with winter and Christmas. This year we will ask you to play with language, which is the subject of

David Crystal's Language play (reviewed in GTN 98:3). In his book, Crystal gives examples of humorous noncewords from a radio series called English Now:

airogance

The incomprehensible fact that an airline will keep a plane-load of passengers waiting for a handful of late arrivals.

circumtreeviation The tendency of a dog on a leash to want to walk past poles and trees on the opposite side to its owner.

hicgap

The time that elapses between when hiccups go away and when you suddenly realize it's happened.

kellogulation

What happens to your breakfast cereal when you are called away by a fifteen-minute phone call just after you have poured milk on it.

toilert toiliterature

Precautionary whistling when there's no lock on the bathroom door.

The books and magazines that people keep in their bathrooms.

As you can see, each of these words is a combination of two other words (such as air + arrogance =

airogance, Kellogs + coagulation = kellogulation). Now, your task for our competition is to create similar nonce-words, combining two ordinary words in English in a way that gives a humorous touch to the new creation.

That's something to think about when the Christmas gifts are opened and your stomachs won't accept more candy.

Please send your suggestions to [email protected]

by 15 January. Those who come up with the best noncewords will be rewarded.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

ME

5. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och

amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15-16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. Gunilla Byrman, Hans

Lindquist, Maria Estling & Magnus Levin (eds). Korpusar i forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University - Humanities.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. Gunilla Anderman & Margaret Rogers (eds). Word, text

and translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. Proceedings from ICAME 98, Belfast.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies.

·

–––. In press. Corpora and Dictionaries. The perfect learner’s dictionary. Proceedings from a symposium at

Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter.

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in February 2000.

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2. How do you put abbreviations such as "CD" in the plural?

Some Swedish grammars of English (e.g. Ljung & Ohlander 1992, Hargevik 2003 and Estling Vannestål 2007) present two different alternatives when we wish to talk about abbreviations like CD in the plural, as illustrated by

(1) and (2):

(1) Where have all the CDs gone?

(2) All the CD’s in the series have the same layout.

However, our subscriber has also found a comment from The Apostrophe Protection Society (Isn’t it amazing that such a society exists!) that the form with an apostrophe is incorrect:

(3) Apostrophes are NEVER ever used to denote plurals! Common examples of such abuse (all seen in real life!) are:

Banana’s for sale which of course should read Bananas for sale

Menu’s printed to order which should read Menus printed to order

MOT’s at this garage which should read MOTs at this garage

1000’s of bargains here! which should read 1000s of bargains here!

New CD’s just in! which should read New CDs just in!

Buy your Xmas tree's here! which should read Buy your Xmas trees here!

(http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/)

So, the question is: who is right? As always, we’ll turn to our corpora, to see what native speakers of English actually use. Searching for CDs and CD’s in The British National Corpus and The Corpus of American English from Brigham Young University, we can first of all note that CD’s is indeed used by native speakers, particularly in American English; it occurred 7 times in the BNC and 149 times in the American corpus, as illustrated by the following examples:

(4) Both keep records of bankruptcies and judgements summonses filed in address order, covering the whole

country (UAPT’s nationwide register, opened in 1978, consisting of computer printed microfiche; CD’son filing cards). (British magazine)

(5) He learned to skip from track to track among 10 CD’s, cuing up music, mainly operas, to fit the mood of the passing landscape. (American newspaper)

(6) A variation would be the use of course materials on various content areas in the arts delivered on CD’s and sold through retail outlets as an alternative to video games. (American academic journal)

Furthermore, many of the examples in the American corpus were from written sources, such as newspapers and magazines. However, in the great majority of examples, no apostrophe is used. It may thus be a good idea to advise students to leave out the apostrophe from abbreviations like CDs and DVDs, since first of all, this is the far more common structure, and second, since some people seem to be negative towards the usage which includes an apostrophe. Also remember that a form with a colon (CD:s), which is frequent in Swedish, is not used in English.

MEV

Institutionen för humaniora

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GTN index

@GramTime News 07:[email protected]

**********************

July 2007

Welcome to the thirty-fifth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editor: Magnus Levin , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Book tips

4. Web tip

5. GramTime publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear women and men readers,

(Or should it be female and male readers? – read more about gender premodifiers in Maria’s article below!)

Anyway, we’re back again, to brighten and enlighten your rainy summer days. Apart from the gender business,

Maria deals with the awesome (?) semantic development of the adjective awesome, while Magnus gets embroiled in the seemingly endless variations on without doubt and beyond doubt. Magnus also investigates how wide-spread the abbreviated form a couple days etc. (without of) is in written English. It’s always hard to know how informal one should let oneself (and one’s students) be, but in this particular case Magnus gives clear advice.

There is of course also a web tip: Magnus invites you to become your own corpus linguist on a free website where you can make advanced searches in all editions of Time magazine between 1923 and 2007. We have only just started using this new and very promising service, which by the way is provided by those clever linguists in Utah, the Latter-day Saints at Brigham Young University.

Finally I’ve read, enjoyed and reviewed two recent books on the English language. It was that kind of wet midsummer.

We all hope you will have a relaxing and peaceful summer vacation. Soon most of us will be back in the classroom again…

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

The aim of the GramTime project is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British,

American, Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. The other project members are Maria

Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

If you want to read more about the project, go to:

Ø

a

http://www.vxu.se/hum/forskn/projekt/gramtime/index.xml

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Which is the more common – without doubt or without a doubt ?

This question is difficult to answer without considering the broad range of the other alternatives that are available.

In The Longman Dictionary, the phrases without/beyond doubt (‘used to emphasize an opinion’) are classified as

“formal”. It is noteworthy that only phrases without articles and premodifying adjectives are given in that dictionary, while The Collins Cobuild Dictionary, which does not include any classification of the formality of any of the phrases, mentions without doubt, without a doubt, without the slightest doubt, beyond all doubt and beyond a

doubt. Now we are beginning to get some idea of the possible variation in these phrases, but the findings for AmE and BrE given below in Table 1 for without X doubt and in Table 2 for beyond X doubt produce even more alternatives. Some variants (e.g. without a scintilla/shred/trace/ounce of doubt) were only found once and were not included in the statistics below.

Table 1. Without X doubt in AmE and BrE

NYT BNC

N

111

332

%

24

71

N

287

69

%

72

17

any a shadow of a shadow of a

16

0

7

3

0

2

24

7

5

6

2

1

any shadow of the slightest

Total

0

0

466

0

0

100

4

3

399

Ø

a

Table 2. Beyond X doubt in AmE and BrE

NYT

N

69

22

all any reasonable a reasonable all reasonable

12

284

11

31

2

any reasonable a shadow of a shadow of a any shadow of a

Total

2

451

6

1

11

0

100

1

0

3

3

63

2

7

0

%

15

5

0

100

0

2

0

21

1

4

5

3

%

60

5

0

244

0

6

0

52

3

10

13

8

BNC

N

141

11

1

1

100

Two things become immediately apparent in these results. First of all, there is a bewildering array of alternatives that are not mentioned in the dictionaries, as is often the case in phraseological studies, and secondly, AmE has a greater preference for the indefinite article than BrE, which prefers the zero article. This latter finding can be

compared with our results for have (a) stomachache in GTN 05:3 , where AmE, in contrast to the phrases discussed

here, more often has the indefinite article than BrE.

The different preferences for the two varieties are perhaps most clearly illustrated with without doubt/without a

doubt, beyond doubt/beyond a doubt and beyond reasonable doubt/beyond a reasonable doubt. BrE prefers the zero article, as in (1), (3) and (5), and AmE prefers the indefinite article, as in (2), (4) and (6).

(1) The picture shows without doubt that the royal couple are close to a marriage split, says an expert in body language. (BNC)

(2) Without a doubt, Argentines, who are mainly of European descent, are the most universally loathed group in

South America. (NYT 1995)

(3) This is established beyond doubt, as a result of years of scientific study. (BNC)

(4) In 1987, Congress proved beyond a doubt that officials in the Reagan Administration had compromised fundamental constitutional principles. (NYT 1995)

(5) Yet if narrative sources can imply that late Anglo-Saxon government was ineffective, other evidence indicates

beyond reasonable doubt that it was not. (BNC)

(6) Does that convince you beyond a reasonable doubt ? (NYT 1995)

It is noteworthy that a couple of the alternatives given in the Cobuild dictionary, namely without the slightest doubt and beyond all doubt, are extremely rare. In order to come across one single instance of the intuitively plausible

without the slightest doubt (as exemplified in (7)), you have to read or hear more than 100 million words. Different variants with the noun shadow, as in (8), are also infrequent.

(7) Without the slightest doubt, there are far fewer gestures in the world than there are individuals. (BNC)

(8) ‘I’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you learn something early enough,’ Mr. Lehrer said, ‘learn it well, and it’s insignificant enough, you will know it for life.’ (NYT 1995)

Beyond X doubt is to a large extent restricted to legal contexts, where it collocates with words like guilty and, as in

(4) above, prove. Without X doubt is a more versatile, everyday phrase, as seen in the spoken quotation in (9). That the beyond phrases are as common in NYT as the without phrases is probably due to a relatively strong emphasis on crime reporting in the media.

(9) He is without a doubt the most consummate professional I’ve ever seen, and, if he is not the greatest player of all time, certainly one of the two or three greatest. (NYT 1995)

The material indicates that although the phrases often occur in formal contexts, there is an interesting tendency for some of the phrases to be more frequent in quoted and reported speech than in text written by journalists. For instance, most of the instances of without a doubt in NYT 1995 were found in quotes. In contrast, none of the nine instances of beyond doubt in the same source were from quoted speech. This supports the suggestion that beyond X

doubt belongs to fairly formal judicial contexts, while without X doubt is more varied in its usage.

The shortest possible conclusion regarding these phrases is that for once we can tell our learners that “anything goes”. A more general conclusion is that phrases that appear at first sight to be slightly variable turn out to be highly variable. It is of course impossible for a teacher to keep track of all variants that may crop up, so instead it’s better to be prepared with a pinch of tolerance and tons of available corpus data.

ML

2. I have seen both native speakers and students writing a couple years rather than a couple of years. How common is this, and can it be recommended for learners?

In general, it is of course natural that unstressed individual sounds, syllables or even words are omitted in rapid speech. For instance, when rapidly saying he marched through history , it normally comes out as something like

“he march through histry”. Because there is usually so much redundant information and because we have heard these phrases before, as listeners we can usually quite easily understand such elisions. A case in point is that it does not normally hinder comprehension if we drop of in a couple of. This loss of of seems to be a phenomenon that is most common in American English, where it can be seen even in writing. Examples (1) and (2) come from quoted speech in The New York Times and (3) and (4) from transcribed speech in the Longman Spoken American Corpus.

(1) We haven’t had a good winter storm in a couple of years. (NYT 2000)

(2) If you’ve been here a couple years, you know enough to let him do his thing. (NYT 2000)

(3) Yeah, we’re a couple of minutes early. (LSAC)

(4) (…) it’ll be ready in a couple minutes. (LSAC)

In cases like the ones above one wonders how closely the transcription of speech reflects the authentic pronunciation when (1) to (4) were uttered. It is not unlikely that the journalists and transcribers consciously or subconsciously have adopted the transcription to the written standard by the inclusion of of in (1) and (3).

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that this colloquial way of writing has become accepted by the generally conservative NYT, albeit only in quotations. It should also be pointed out that a couple of is in itself a rather informal quantifier, which is more frequent in speech than in writing.

For this study we took 1000 random instances from NYT 1990 and 2000 and LSAC to compare AmE speech and writing, and also to see if there is a change in progress in writing. Some instances had to be discarded because they did not precede nouns. The findings are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. The use of a couple (of) X in American English

NYT 2000

NYT 1990

LSAC

a couple of X

N

812

%

93

820

773

95

81

a couple X

N

64

45

147

5

19

%

7

The results show that the spoken-like a couple X is relatively often found in transcribed speech while it is rare in newspaper text. There is a slight increase in the frequency in NYT between 1990 and 2000, but it should be stressed once again that virtually all these instances were found in quoted speech. A similar though much weaker development can be seen in material from

Time Magazine

between the 1920s and 2000s where a couple years was found six times in the 2000s but only three times overall between the 1920s and 1990s.

We can conclude that there appears to be a slight increase in the use of the colloquial of-less phrase in written

AmE. This is in line with the general colloquialization of written English that we have discussed on numerous occasions in GTN. However, because a couple X is still restricted to quoted contexts, this quantifier cannot be recommended in academic writing. In the future this may change, but we’ll probably have to wait a couple centuries for this.

ML

3. Which form is more common, women artists/doctors etc. or female artists/doctors etc.?

When we wish to incidate the female gender of someone in terms of their occupations or in expressions with certain other nouns (such as character and patient), we are faced with the choice between using the noun

woman/women, as in (1) and (2), or the adjective female, as in (3) and (4), as a premodifier:

(1) This young woman artist earned several thousand pounds a year [...] (American book)

(2) Female artist Lida Husik (rhymes with music) is often described as a trippy Laurie Anderson. (British magazine)

(3) Two women patients in Broadmoor slashed the throat of a murderess after half-strangling her with a pair of tights yesterday. (British tabloid)

(4) None of them had noticed anything that would suggest that Dr Purnell showed any untoward interest to his

female patients [...] (Australian newspaper)

Overall, woman/women + noun is more frequent than female + noun. For instance, in the Cobuild corpus (the only corpus where we can search for whole word classes, such as NOUNS), the former structure is used 3623 times and the latter 2579. This is of course a very rough estimate, since there are some cases in which woman/women is not a plausible alternative (e.g. female child) and other expressions that could not include female (e.g. woman hater).

Obviously, we need to look into the words combined with woman/women/female in more detail.

First of all, we can observe that there are differences between different nouns. The following table presents the proportions of woman/women vs. female in the most frequently occurring word combinations from Cobuild and the BNC .

Cobuild BNC

woman/women

N %

17 68%

female

N %

8 32%

woman/women

N

197

%

93%

female

N

14

%

7%

artist(s) candidate(s) character(s) director(s) doctor(s) driver(s)

22

22

23

6

53

66%

26%

76%

61%

88%

12

17

7

14

7

34%

76%

24%

39%

12%

16

5

11

31

50

64%

12%

79%

72%

93%

9

36

3

12

4

36%

88%

21%

28%

7%

employee(s) lawyer(s) passenger(s) patient(s) pilot(s) playwright(s)

6

13

13

18

15

19

26%

93%

62%

46%

100%

100%

17

1

8

74%

7%

38%

21

54%

0

0

0%

0%

23

13

10

21

-

33%

93%

50%

28%

6

100%

-

47

1

10

-

67%

7%

50%

53

72%

0 0%

-

politician(s) priest(s) prisoner(s) reader(s) student(s) teacher(s) voter(s) worker(s) writer(s)

18

10

17

11

74

18

32

18

37

72%

88%

86%

67%

67%

65%

88%

72%

80%

5 28%

10 12%

3 14%

5 33%

35

67%

10 35%

5 12%

7 28% 125

8 20% 68

52

14

25

11

41

6

82

75%

95%

76%

58%

42%

80%

93%

76%

87%

2 25%

4 5%

8

8

24%

42%

56

58%

13 20%

1 7%

39 24%

10 13%

The table shows that for each noun, the same variant (woman/women X or female X) predominated in both corpora. There is quite a lot of variation, but some expressions seem to be more "fixed" than others.

As mentioned above, woman/women is the most frequent overall, and in a large number of cases, this form occurs in between two thirds and three fourths of the cases. Some nouns are used with woman/women in more than 85% of the cases (marked by bold type in the table) in at least one of the corpora and often in both of them: artist(s),

driver(s), lawyer(s), pilot(s), playwright(s), priest(s), prisoner(s), voter(s) and writer(s).

Woman/women predominates in all combinations with nouns referring to occupations of various kinds, as in (5) and (6):

(5) I would assume that the women pilots whom you met were enthusiastic, predictably happy about the news. (American radio)

(6) A woman doctor gently broke the news that tests had shown terminal cancer of the lungs and brain. (British tabloid)

There are however some combinations, where female rather than woman/women is the more frequent alternative

(character, employee, patient and student). None of these refers to the name of an occupation:

(7) A psychiatrist finds evidence of reincarnation in the experiences of a female patient who, in nightmares, had

visions and recollections of a previous existence among the Cathars, a 13th century heretical sect of Christians in

Europe. (British book)

(8) Earlier, the paramilitary forces had used batons and teargas to disperse the demonstrators, most of whom were

female students. (British radio)

Interestingly (but perhaps not surprisingly) a quick run-through of some of the combinations mentioned above in the new corpus of

Time magazine

(with material from the 1920s to the 2000s) shows a boost in the 1940s in the frequency of woman/women doctor(s) with 15 examples. Here are a few examples:

(9) Yet in spite of their handicaps, a number of women doctors in the U. S. have made remarkable contributions to the progress of medicine. (Time 1941)

(10) The President last week signed a bill giving women doctors equal status with men in the Army Navy. (Time

1943)

After this period the frequency decreases and the expression is so far non-existent in Time magazine from the

2000s (2000-2007), probably because the phenomenon of women doctors becomes natural and is thus less interesting to write about.

In an era of political correctness, it can be discussed how often the use of premodifiers like woman/women or

female is actually necessary. In many cases, the classification into female or male is of course relevant, as in (11), where the behaviour of doctors is analysed from a gender perspective:

(11) Women doctors generally gave patients a longer, more sympathetic hearing than male, a medical academic said yesterday. (Australian newspaper)

In other cases, however, this usage is less clearly motivated:

(12) That's what they called it, the nurse, the woman doctor, the technician: the real world. (British book)

Apart from the expression male nurse, we seldom hear men referred to as men doctors or male teachers unless there is a strong reason (such as a comparison to their female counterparts) for doing so.

Summing up, we can conclude that if you are uncertain about whether to use woman/women or female it usually seems to be a good idea to go for the former alternative, since in most cases it is the alternative that most people use, especially when referring to people's occupations. Also consider in what cases it is really necessary to use a gender marker at all. I definitely prefer being referred to as just a linguist and teacher rather than as a woman

linguist or female teacher.

ME

4. I so often hear the word awesome expressing great enthusiasm nowadays. Has this usage become more frequent in recent years? Is it only used by Americans?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word awesome was first attested in 1598, in the sense of

"full of awe, profoundly reverential". The adjective developed from describing someone's emotions into the causative meaning of "inspiring awe" and "appalling, dreadful, weird" (first attestation in 1671).

In the 20th century, this originally rather formal and solemn word, often related to religion and the awe inspired by

God, developed a weakened meaning: "overwhelming, staggering, remarkable, prodigious". OED's first attestation is from 1961 and the word is marked "colloquial". The meaning with which awesome is often associated today is what OED refers to as "an enthusiastic term of commendation", i.e. expressing the same thing as 'marvellous, great, stunning, mind-boggling' etc. The first attested example of this usage is from 1980 and is marked as "slang".

Going through a number of printed and on-line dictionaries, we can conclude that most of them summarize the meanings accounted for by OED as something like the following (examples taken from the on-line Longman

Dictionary of Contemporary English :

1. expressing or inspiring awe ("an awesome responsibility")

2. remarkable, excellent great ("Their last concert was really awesome.")

Besides commenting on the fact that the more recent use of awesome belongs to informal language, many dictionaries (especially British-based ones) remark that it mainly occurs in American English.

As pointed out by a Japanese student of English in a forum on English as a Second Language, the two slightly conflicting meanings can cause problems of interpretation, perhaps especially for non-native speakers, unfamiliar with many English collocations and thus unable to decide whether awesome refers to something positive or negative:

(1) I know the word "awesome" has a slang meaning, it means "great, very good", but I am not sure whether there are exeptions (sic). e.g. The weather is awesome! [my italics]

Does it mean the weather is very good or very bad?

( http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ask-teacher/4832-whats-meaning-word-awesome.html

)

Awesome is one of those words that are widely discussed on the Internet, in private people's blogs as well as on websites on English usage and homepages related to various religious groups. We got 35,000 hits for the search string "the word awesome" (and 132 million hits for the word awesome itself!). Here are some extracts from such sources:

(2) Some usage experts react very negatively when awesome is used in this way, and prefer that awesome be used in its traditional sense of “inspiring great awe.” [my italics]

( http://www.betteratenglish.com/real-english-conversations-the-pre-google-dark-ages/ )

(3) I hate what they've done to the word awesome [...] Since everything has become totally awesome, the word

awesome has lost its ability to express anything profound. How can a (sic) something that takes your breath away

be awesome if what Josh said in class was awesome and what happened at the park was awesome and if Jen's new haircut is awesome and if parents and teachers are using awesome just to connect with their kids? Describing an

Arizona sunrise or sunset as being awesome is minimizing it. [my italics]

( http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-09-12-05.htm

)

(4) The word "awesome" [...] is what is called a "sticking plaster" word, which is something used by Americans to cover over the huge gaps in our vocabulary.

( http://www.reicher.org/academics/computers/february/22.htm

)

(5) Simply put, the word "awesome" in (sic) an attribute that really only belongs to God. ( http://preachermansblog.

blogspot.com/2006/10/what-is-awesome.html

)

Whereas the abundant use of awesome in the sense of 'excellent, great' is usually regarded as a fairly recent phenomenon (remember that OED's first attestation is from 1980), the use of the word in its earlier sense of

'remarkable' seems to have been very popular a few decades ago:

(6) Awesome is a word of the 60s and 70s used in slang to connote something exceptional (“Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing was awesome”). [my italics]

( http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1484612 )

This statement can be related to the remark in OED that awesome started being used in the sense of 'remarkable'

1961. Interestingly, searching for awesome in

Time Magazine

from the 1920s to the 2000s we find that the use of the word reached a peak in the 1960s and 1970s, thereafter decreasing steadily in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s

(although this decade of course has not come to an end yet, so statistics are unreliable). Could it be that the more recent use of awesome to mean 'great, excellent' is too informal to end up in Time? However, the distinction between the sense of 'remarkable' from the 1960s and the later one ('great', 'excellent') is not entirely obvious.

Comparing two corpora of spoken English, one British (Cobuild) and one American (Longman) we can observe that the number of tokens in the American corpus widely exceeds that in the British one: 133 tokens in 5 million words of American spoken English = 27 tokens/million words vs. 18 tokens in 9 million words of British spoken

English = 2 tokens/million words. On the other hand, as we have pointed out in previous issues of GTN, these two corpora are becoming a bit outdated (its material being from the 1990s) and are thus not very reliable for analyzing recent phenomena. So from this comparison we cannot really decide how frequent awesome is in British speech nowadays. Interestingly, it turns out that, in the Cobuild corpus as a whole, awesome was in fact more frequent per million words in some British sources (tabloids and magazines) than in the American sources, but here we must remember that the corpus does not contain any spoken American material apart from radio programmes (where the language is quite often script-based) and dialogues in fiction.

A comparison of The Independent from the 1995 and 2000 (we're waiting eagerly for the 2005 edition which is on its way from Great Britain to Växjö at the moment of writing!) indeed showed an increase in the overall frequency of awesome (from 305 occurrences in the 1995 edition to 478 in the 2000 edition). However, since we are now talking about a written medium (albeit one including a fair amount of "spoken" language in the form of interviews)

many of these examples are clearly not of the type where awesome is used to express enthusiasm, and in many cases the exact interpretation is difficult to establish.

We further analyzed the examples of awesome in the Longman corpus in more detail, since virtually all of them were clearly used to express enthusiasm. In the majority of the cases, awesome was used predicatively, as in

(7), (mainly combined with be but sometime with look and sound), rather than attributively, as in (8): 164 examples (91%) vs. 17 examples (9%) (2 tokens had other functions):

(7) But this other stuff is awesome.

(8) That's an awesome aftertaste.

In quite a few of the examples, awesome was premodified by an adverb, mainly a booster like really, as in (9), or the downtoner pretty, as in (10):

(9) The bag is really awesome.

(10) My lamp looks pretty awesome.

Other examples of premodifiers were completely, just, so and totally. The word was also sometimes combined with a swearword, as in (11) and (12):

(11) It was so fucking awesome.

(12) It's some awesome shit.

This is particularly interesting in view of the fact that the original meaning of awesome was "inspired by awe" and often referring to the awe of God (as emphasized by those claiming that the original meaning of the word should be retained).

We further compared the proportion of predicative and attributive function of awesome in the Longman corpus with this proportion in some other corpora. In The Independent, the attributive function instead predominated in both the 1995 and the 2000 corpora, but our hypothesis that the predicative function (as an indicator of awesome being used in the 'excellent, great' sense) would have increased between 1995 and 2000 proved wrong (44% predicative function in 1995 and just 33% in 2000). Fewer examples than in the Longman corpus were premodified, and the most common premodifier was truly, a more formal booster than pretty, really and so, indicating that awesome is used in its original meaning here, as in (13):

(13) It is a tribute to the strength of female desire that women committed adultery at all, given the truly awesome obstacles put in their way. (The Independent 2000)

Finally, besides the adjective awesome, there are also two abbreviated forms, awes and awse (cf. Urban

Dictionary ), the adverb awesomely (first attested in 1884, according to the OED) and the noun awesomeness (first attested in 1874, OED). On the Internet we can even find the agnostic organization " The Church of Awesomology ", which promotes the following two guidelines in living:

1. Work to become as awesome as you can be.

2. Work to make the world around you awesome. [my italics]

To conclude, even though it was difficult to establish whether the use of awesome to express enthusiasm is increasing and whether this usage is spreading in British English, it seems to be frequent in both varieties, although more frequent in American than in British English. This is also one of those areas of the English language that a lot of people have an opinion about (often a negative one, it seems). Awesome can be used for different purposes in different context, but as a non-native speaker it might be good to be aware that using it too abundantly to express enthusiasm may evoke irritation.

ME

3. Book tips

Crystal, David. 2006. The Fight for English. How language pundits ate, shot and left. Oxford: Oxford University

Press. 239 pp. GBP 9.99.

Waters, Nicholas. 2006. Eats, roots & leaves. An open-minded guide to English. Norwich and Växjö:

International Waters. 192 pp. GBP 7.99.

In 2003, the journalist Lynne Truss published her pamphlet Eats, shoots and leaves: The zero tolerance approach

to punctuation. It was incredibly successful and contains quite a bit of useful information about punctuation (some of which I quoted recently in GTN). Another aspect of the book, however, which is expressed in the part of the title that comes after the colon, is less palatable. It has triggered David Crystal to write a whole book (henceforth

FE) about the efforts of self-proclaimed language experts to “correct” and streamline English over the last 1000 years.

In the following I will make some comments on Crystal’s study and also on a recent usage book (henceforth ERL) by the Växjö-based freelance writer and lecturer on the English language, Nicholas Waters (Waters is obviously partially triggered by Truss as well, although the closest he comes to a reference to her is the mention of zero tolerance and the pun in his title.) The authors will be well-known to many Swedish teachers who have enjoyed their racy lecturing styles, and both books are also lively, personal and full of interesting examples and facts.

Like most professional linguists, Crystal is against usage fundamentalism and for tolerance. In thirty short chapters he presents thumb-nail sketches of the historical development and eventual standardization of the English language, at the same time taking us through the history of linguistic prescriptivism. For spelling, he shows how much of it is the result of historical accidents and how standardization in this area has been reasonably successful thanks to dictionary makers and publishing houses. In grammar, he claims that there are only a dozen or so “rules” that people really disagree about and which tend to recur endlessly in the debate: split infinitives, dangling participles, ending a sentence with a preposition and a few more. Prescriptivists have proscribed certain uses, and it doesn’t help that linguists have shown again and again that (a) most of the proscribed constructions are timehonoured in the language, (b) they have been used by the best authors, and (c) good arguments can be made that

they are sometimes much clearer and more efficient than the preferred alternatives. Crystal underlines that language is about expressing meaning, and that sentences and texts must be judged on how well they fulfil their purpose.

When it comes to punctuation, Crystal makes the important observation that we use it simultaneously for two incompatible jobs: to reflect the sound of the voice and to organize grammar. In the beginning there was no punctuation. Then the scribes started to mark pauses and where the voice should go up and down, and the system got increasingly complex. Nowadays punctuation has the role to create structure in written texts without a direct relation to the spoken language. Again, Crystal argues for functionality and making sense – punctuation as an art rather than a science with 100% fixed laws.

There is a word in Swedish, folkbildare ‘people-educator’, which fits David Crystal perfectly: he is an eminent educator of the people, and there is a strong feeling for democracy in his writings. Pupils in schools should learn about language, how it works, how it changes, how there are informal and formal varieties and so on, and not be made insecure by being told that they don’t speak their own language correctly. There is no need for zero tolerance; it’s not a crime to split an infinitive. Those who love language should go out into schools and help students instead of being fault-finders. This is what Crystal does (and so does Waters).

It was interesting to read ERL straight after FE. The books must have been written at about the same time, and in many respects they are amazingly similar. In his introduction, Waters says that his book is not a style manual, but

“a cry for freedom”. He, too, objects strongly to the prescriptivists, who(m) he calls “grammar fascists” (personally

I find the term a bit over the top – I think using the word fascist about prescriptivists is too strong: after all, they don’t usually murder their opponents).

ERL covers some of the same ground as FE. For instance, it tells the story of prescriptive grammar and dictionarymaking from the 1700s and onwards, so we meet the same figureheads as in FE: Robert Lowth, Samuel Johnson,

Thomas Sheridan and Lindley Murray, but with rather less detail. And several of the same pedants’ bugbears are discussed: stranded prepositions, double negation, etcetera. Waters always argues for function and communication against artificial rules. His two functions of language are worth quoting:

1. a means of communication

2. a wonderful game to be played where words can be manipulated and mangled, speech used imaginatively and expressions created and parodied. (p. 6)

Waters is a master of both functions. ERL is full of witty quotations, mottos and puns, so it’s a fun read. In such a torrent of jokes and quips, the author must be forgiven for occasionally producing, and letting stay on the page, one pun too many (to my taste). ERL is less focused than FE; on the one hand the theme of “grammar fascism” is cleverly sustained by the use of quoted letters to the editor from disgruntled “apostropharians”, “nuancers”, “Little

Englanders” (great terms invented by Waters) and other fundamentalist, but on the other hand there is quite a bit of digression into other interesting aspects of Present-day English. Indeed, the blurb says that Waters “believes in the right to roam in English”, and he writes according to his creed.

Both books are attractive to look at and well laid out, but ERL shows some signs of being self-published: frequent problematic line-breaks with missing or added indentation and occasional typos (like Shadenfreude for

Schadenfreude – a bad word to misspell!). What is more serious, it lacks an index and references (instead the

reader is invited to write to the author to ask for the sources). FL, on the other hand, is meticulously produced, as can be expected from the Crystal book factory and OUP.

So, which book should you buy and read? I suggest both: each is excellent in its own way. Both are entertaining and well written, but in rather different personal styles. Both give sound advice on what general attitude one should have to usage. FE is more focused, more scholarly and better organized; it gives a more solid background for any discussion of usage. ERL is more opinionated, provides more examples and cracks more jokes. If you only have time for one, and perhaps already have read several books by Crystal, why not try Waters this time.

HL

4. Web tips

Using the Time Magazine on-line for tracking language change

We have in a previous issue (GTN

04:4

) provided some tips about online newspapers. This time we would like to draw your attention to a magazine that can be used as a corpus. Mark Davies at Brigham Young University has made Time Magazine 1923–2007 (which is available online) searchable as a corpus at http://corpus.byu.edu/time/

After having searched a few times through the corpus I was asked to register, which worked fine.

Apart from using this in linguistic studies, it can be used in the teaching of history and social science. It is, for instance, fascinating to read through the first mentions of the names of famous politicians. On 7 April 1923, a pretty inaccurate description of the “great leader” and monarchist Adolph Hitler and his “Bavarian Fascista Army” was published:

“Ten thousand undaunted warriors followed their great leader, Adolph Hitler , into battle. The occasion was the first military maneuvers held by the Bavarian Fascista Army, wholehearted supporters of the monarchy.”

Hitler’s henchman Goebbels receives a less flattering description on 19 September 1930 (“deformed, bitter little

Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels”). I n 1972 Saddam Hussein is described in fairly neutral terms, as “Iraqi Strongman

Saddam Hussein Takriti”, in the 80s he is often described as the Iraqi President, while he is described in less positive terms in the 90s and onwards.

Moreover, the search results show a sharp decrease in the number of times Sweden is mentioned between the

1970s, 80s and 90s. It would be interesting to see whether this is connected to any changes in the perception of

Swedish society.

Popular culture, and the perceptions of it, can also be studied using Time . The punk band the Ramones (that’s what some of your pupils listen to) are only mentioned twice in the 70s, when they were at their best, but 24 times in the 2000s (so far) when they are described as a “seminal punk band” when most of the band members died.

Only the teachers’ and pupils’ imaginations set the limit to what can be done with this excellent resource.

ML

5. GramTime publications

Click on the following link to see what has been published by the members of the GramTime project: http://www.vxu.se/hum/forskn/projekt/gramtime/publications.xml

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected] We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

with the following message: subscribe.

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2007.

Institutionen för humaniora

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7. Postadress: 351 95 Växjö

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88

Uppdaterad/kontrollerad 2007-12-20

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

01:1, January 2001

Welcome to the eleventh issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , MA, Roy Liddle, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

I hope the long holidays have been bearable in spite of the lack of GramTime News in December. Our managing editor was taken ill before Christmas, and it was immediately clear that the rest of us couldn't manage without her, so we are happy that she is back. We don't feel like presenting a Christmas issue now, however, so we move directly to our winter/spring edition.

In this issue, Magnus goes non-standard among the pronouns and also looks at what seems to be a fairly recent expression, at the end of the day, while our guest writers Roy Liddle and Staffan Klintborg deal with prepositional usage (we'll never be finished with that) and article use with country names (I have an uneasy feeling that

Staffan is planning to use up all the department's research money on linguistic field trips to exotic places). And

Maria's topic suggests that she has got her appetite back - surely a sign of returning health. She also invites us to

The English Club, which sounds interesting, but as Internet users I am afraid we will have to provide the leather armchairs ourselves.

We are now going into our fourth year. Comments, questions (and praise…) from our readers is what keeps us going, so don't hesitate to send us an e-mail about anything regarding English usage!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. I've heard the form y'all used instead of the pronoun you. Where, when and how is it used?

Well, y'all is only one of many non-standard pronouns. There are mainly two contexts where non-standard pronouns occur. The first comprises pronouns used as 'plural you' and the second area comprises reflexive pronouns. These forms are mainly found in informal speech and in dialogues in fiction.

The English pronoun you does not distinguish between singular and plural, but a number of strategies are employed to get round this problem. To begin with, there is the form y'all. According to the Longman Dictionary

of Contemporary English, the pronoun y'all is used in informal AmE and it is "a word meaning 'all of you', used mainly in the southern US states when speaking to more than one person." Y'all does not appear to occur at all in

BrE but is fairly frequent in spoken AmE. (1) comes from a spoken AmE corpus and (2) is taken from a spoken quotation in The New York Times 1995:

(1) Well it's up to y'all I guess. (spoken AmE)

(2) I had to choose between representing Tip O'Neill or y'all, and I chose to represent y'all. (NYT 95)

Example (3) below is particularly interesting because y'all is used with a genitive -s:

(3) Yep. I was probably y'all's age the first time I ever met your mother. (spoken AmE)

There were three examples of this construction in our spoken AmE material. It thus seems that y'all is developing into an independent pronoun with a genitive form, y'all's, parallel to it and its.

Another 'plural' form of you is you guys. This form is also used when talking to a group of people. This phrase is exemplified in (4) and (5):

(4) Oh my God, you guys are disgusting! (spoken AmE)

(5) You guys made it! (spoken AmE)

You guys is extremely frequent in AmE conversation with around 2000 tokens in our 5 million word corpus. The phrase is much rarer in BrE. It is interesting to note that both males and females can be referred to using you guys. (6) was found in The New York Times 1995 and involves a reference to well-built women who play what

Americans call "football":

(6) They didn't realize how much faster we are and the fact that we are so much stronger than the other girls.

Some of them go, 'Wow, you guys have muscles. You look like women.' I say, 'Well, we are.' (NYT 95)

Another 'plural' form of you is yous(e). This pronoun differs from y'all in that it can be used either as a plural or as a singular form, which means that this form suffers from the same ambiguity as you. According to the

Australian Macquarie Dictionary there is "a strong resistance" to the use of yous(e) both in speech and in writing.

The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English does not include yous(e) at all.

Yous(e) is found both in BrE speech, as in (7), and in fictional dialogue, as in (8). The form appears to be very rare in AmE. Americans instead seem to prefer using y'all and you guys.

(7) We're doing yous a favour, our lads speaks plain to you, we're doing yous a favour. (spoken BrE)

(8) "It's grand to see the two of youse together," he says, cool as you like. (BrE fictional dialogue)

No clear instance of 'singular' yous(e) was found in the material.

The second problematic area with pronouns concerns a relatively recent invention in English, namely reflexive pronouns. Manfred Görlach (in his Introduction to Early Modern English 1991:86) discusses the history of the

English reflexives. In the earlier stages of the history of English personal pronouns were used to express reflexivity. However, some obvious ambiguities, such as he killed him, led to an increasing use of self after the pronoun (him self), or to the use of a possessive + self (his self). The selection of these two alternatives was not always consistent, which is the reason why both object forms (himself) and possessives (myself) remain in

Present Day English. It is noteworthy that the Longman Dictionary does not mention any non-standard reflexives while the Macquarie Dictionary only mentions themself in a usage note.

The non-standard alternative for himself is hisself. This appears to be very rare in both AmE and BrE, and (9) is one of the few examples we found:

(9) Er, you know, he saved hisself with this. (spoken BrE)

The pronouns theirselves and theirself seem to be fairly frequent in spontaneous BrE speech, but interestingly enough they hardly occur at all in fictional dialogue. They also seem to be infrequent in spoken AmE. The examples below were found in BrE speech:

(10) Well er, course they hurt theirselves but they're, that's their, that's their look out. (spoken BrE)

(11) The shopkeepers didn't know what to do with theirself. (spoken BrE)

The last form that will be discussed here, themself, is slightly different in usage from the others. This pronoun is infrequent but sometimes occurs in writing outside fictional dialogues. The reason for this is that this apparently

'illogical' pronoun (plural them combined with singular self) is useful in those cases where there is no established pronoun to use, such as in Somebody has hurt himself/herself/themselves. Themself has the advantage of being both 'singular' and gender-neutral, which explains why it is used in (12) and (13):

(12) She said Paula asked her "how could someone hang themself?" (written BrE)

(13) A parent can grant an additional privilege (provided the parent has the additional privilege themself) or rescind a privilege previously granted to a descendant at any time. (written BrE)

This is the main area of use for themself. Interestingly, themself was also found with collective nouns, another area where there is uncertainty as to which pronoun to use (themselves or itself). In (14) themself is used in an otherwise plural context (have themselftheir):

(14) On what the Labour Party have claimed for themself as being their issue. (spoken BrE)

To conclude, non-standard pronouns should not be recommended for foreign learners but it is certainly important to know about these forms for anyone who wants to acquaint themself with variation in English.

ML

2. I keep hearing the expression at the end of the day often nowadays. Where does it come from?

The expression at the end of the day means something like 'with everything considered.' The 1995 edition of the

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English writes that it is "used to give your opinion after you have discussed all the possibilities of a situation or problem." The Oxford English Dictionary explains the phrase as "when all's said and done" and its earliest entry is from 1974. Two typical examples are seen in (1) and (2):

(1) Er but I mean basically at the end of the day, I mean you have to think about to what extent you can increase your sales. (BrE spoken)

(2) But at the end of the day, superb machine though it is, the Mercedes is still just another Mercedes. (BrE written)

At the end of the day appears to be particularly frequent in spoken BrE, but it has also been spreading to written language. It seems to be less established in other regional varieties. For example, the phrase does not appear at all in the Australian Macquarie Dictionary from 1997. Similarly, Paul Heacock & Carol-June Cassidy (in their 1998 paper 'Translating a dictionary from British to American' in Lindquist, Hans, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin &

Maria Estling (eds.) The Major Varieties of English) consider the problems of translating the Cambridge

International Dictionary of English into a new American English dictionary, the Cambridge Dictionary of American

English (CDAE). The authors discuss whether to include at the end of the day in CDAE or if it is 'too British.' The phrase had not been included in earlier AmE dictionaries, but a huge increase in the number of occurrences between 1993 and 1997 in AmE convinced the authors that the phrase has now become a part of the AmE lexicon. Heacock & Cassidy surmise that it is likely that the phrase has been picked up by Americans who are exposed to BrE films and music.

It should be noted that at the end of the day is one of those phrases that irritate many people. In particular it also seems that the phrase is used extremely frequently by British football players and managers. In fact, as early as 1995 the readers of the British football magazine When Saturday Comes (WSC 1995:100) voted at the

end of the day to be the most "overused phrase which should be punished by public flogging."

What do our corpora have to say about the authentic use of the phrase? To begin with, the number of tokens where at the end of the day means, er, 'at the end of the day' are rare in BrE. (3) below therefore represents an exceptional use in current BrE, while (4) exemplifies what has become the most frequent meaning:

(3) You can take advantage of the sauna and solarium to unwind at the end of the day (a small charge is made).

(written BrE)

(4) And at the end of the day I have always found that the training programme is open to genuine ideas -- in all the classes the aim is to build and shape the existing talent so that the actor can work effectively and truthfully when faced with any situation. (written BrE)

We also had a look in our newspaper corpora to see if we could detect any change in progress. The British newspaper The Independent (Ind) showed an increase in the use of the phrase between 1990 and 2000, as seen in the raw figures below. Many of the tokens were found in quotations from spoken language, but quite a few were also found in the texts written by journalists.

The number of tokens of at the end of the day in The Independent 1990-2000:

Ind 1990

Ind 1995

188

234

Ind 2000, January to June

134 (268 extrapolated figure for the whole year)

The expression thus seems to have been widely used in BrE as early as 1990 and is still on the increase in written language. The number of tokens where the expression has kept its literal sense is low, as noted above.

In AmE there is an entirely different picture. In The New York Times 1995 only 150 tokens were found, although this corpus contains far more words than Ind. Furthermore, in contrast to BrE, the overwhelming majority of the tokens in NYT retained the literal sense of the word. It thus seems that AmE has kept the meaning 'at the end of the day' for at the end of the day to a great extent, while BrE seems to be in the process of losing this meaning when the 'with everything considered' sense is getting established.

In our five million word spoken AmE material there were only twelve tokens of at the end of the day and only two of these had the figurative meaning, as in (5):

(5) At the end of the day, I don't like a lot of sort of thundering vocal stuff. (spoken AmE)

We can conclude from Heacock & Cassidy's data and from the present investigation that the phrase originated in

BrE and has spread to AmE.

At the end of the day the phrase seems to have a bright future because highly influential public figures in both

Britain and the United States have adopted it in their speech. For example, (6) was uttered by Britain's Prime

Minister Tony Blair and (7) by the almost-President of the United States, Al Gore:

(6) Mr Blair said: At the end of the day it has to be a commercial decision for BMW and any potential bidder. (Ind

2000)

(7) 'I believe that at the end of the day, the United States will not step back,' he said. (NYT 1995)

ML

3. Which preposition should we use with acquit? Is someone acquitted of charges or on charges? Can you be acquitted for murder?

OED: "to set free or clear from a charge or accusation; to exculpate, exonerate, declare not guilty (of, formerly

from the thing charged)"

Longman: "to give a decision that (someone) is not guilty of a crime"

We have looked at data from the CobuildDirect and BNC corpora, and there is indeed some variation and perhaps confusion as to which preposition to use depending on what it is the person in question is being acquitted on, of etc. The grammar books don't say anything about the matter but several dictionaries do give examples of the use of acquit. The OED says that one is acquitted of a charge, of murder etc. It also says the preposition formerly used was from. What is interesting is that the OED makes no mention of being acquitted on charges.

A more up to date dictionary, the Longman dictionary of English language and culture, however, gives the following examples:

(1) He was acquitted on the charge of murder, but convicted of manslaughter.

(2) The jury acquitted him of murder.

If we now look at the data from the corpora, we can see that of the 53 instances of acquitted …on … 43 refer to

charges and 10 to counts, as in examples (3) to (6) below:

(3) He was also acquitted in 1984 on cocaine trafficking charges.

(4) Salamat Masih, 14, and his uncle Rehmat Masih, 44, were acquitted last Thursday on charges of blaspheming the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

(5) Doyle and two other defendants acquitted on all counts.

(6) …Barry was convicted on one count, acquitted on another, and the jury deadlocked on 12 others…

We have found no examples of anyone being acquitted on anything other than charges and counts. Acquitted… of

…, on the other hand, is somewhat more versatile. Firstly, we have found 39 instances of someone being

acquitted of charges, and 2 of acquitted of counts, as in the following examples:

(7) The former headmaster had been acquitted by a Supreme Court jury of a further 15 charges …

(8) Five months later the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and acquitted Mr Zullo of the manslaughter charge.

(9) … acquitting them of all charges of conspiracy.

(10) He was acquitted of three other counts of culpable homicide.

If, however, the verb acquit has an object other than charge or count it appears that of is the only preposition that can be used. So a person can be acquitted of a crime (56 instances) or acquitted of committing a crime (59 instances), as in the following examples:

(11) A defendant in the […] murder case was acquitted today of murder and manslaughter.

(12) … to tell the family that the schoolboy has been acquitted of theft.

(13) In London, three British businessmen have been acquitted of illegally selling arms to Iraq.

(14) …four Los Angeles police offers acquitted of assaulting Black motorist Rodney King last year.

The story seems to be fairly straightforward so far: you can be acquitted on charges or on counts, and you can be

acquitted of charges, of counts, of crimes or of doing something. There are, nonetheless, instances of other prepositions being used with this verb. A selection of these appear below, examples (15) to (19):

(15) He was acquitted for the brutal crime last February when the case collapsed.

(16) … they had been acquitted by juries for seditious attacks on George III and his ministers.

(17) … the murder of Emmett Till, for which two white men were inexcusably acquitted

(18) … the four LAPD officers acquitted in the excessive beating of motorist Rodney King.

(19) … was acquitted in December over a reprinting of the article in the German magazine …

As a native speaker I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of people would consider these last five examples to be incorrect English. It is interesting, though, that there appear to be no remnants of the former

acquitted from construction. It is also interesting that acquitted on seems to be a recent development since the

OED makes no mention of it, yet it might be considered logical to make some distinction between a charge made by the police, and a crime committed by the criminal. To acquit means 'to declare not guilty', and people cannot be suspected of charges since it is the police who bring charges, not the (suspected) criminals. But facts are facts, and according to our data people still use acquitted of more than acquitted on when referring to charges.

When the object is a noun phrase or a verb phrase, of seems to be the only acceptable preposition.

RL

4. Do people always use the definite article in country names like The Sudan and The Lebanon?

Of the 192 independent states in the world today (8 Jan, 2001) 18 regularly or irregularly take the definite article. In only 7 of these states is the article used with a name in the singular. They comprise /the/ Congo, a name presently used by two countries, /the/ Gambia, /the/ Lebanon, /the/ Sudan, /the/ Ukraine and /the/ Yemen.

The reasons why these particular states, and no others, have obtained this 'tag' are obscure. For the first two, a likely explanation is that their names derive from the Congo and Gambia rivers (a category that grammar tells us should take the article). Since the Lebanon was once a French dependency, its article might reflect French name usage. In the case of the Sudan and the Yemen, it has been pointed out that their original names contain the article in Arabic. The most interesting suggestion, however, concerns the Ukraine, the former Soviet republic.

Ukraine in Russian is a common noun, meaning 'borderland'. Insisting on using the name together with the article can be seen as a way of questioning its right to independence.

These explanations, however plausible, do not help us formulate any rules for definiteness with singular nation names, because we do not encounter *the Niger (named after another African river), *the Laos (another former

French dependency) or *the Kuwait (another Arab state). So we have to accept these uses of the article as aberrations and go over to examine their actual usage.

Whose usage are we concerned with? The common distinction between native and non-native speakers hardly applies here, since we are concerned with the use in English of non-English nation names.

The natural starting-point would then be to find out under which names the governments of these nations want their countries to be known. In a sample of five different yearbooks, encyclopedias and UN publications two of these names never appear with the article, namely Lebanon and Yemen. On the other hand, the Congo is the preferred form in four out of the five sources. A few of the publications first appeared to be inconsistent in their usage, but some of the inconsistencies could be explained by the context. For example, Congo often lacks the article when followed by the addition of the capital, Congo-Kinshasa or Congo-Brazzaville, but includes it in the full official names of the two countries, The Democratic Republic of the Congo and The Republic of the Congo, respectively. When the name of a country is preceded by a cardinal point, the article tends to be omitted, as in

South or Southern Sudan.

Official or semi-official usage, as reflected in publications like these, may not agree with actual usage. To investigate the latter, we first turned to the two big corpora, COBUILD and BNC. Leaving out headlines, tables, company names and other contexts where the shorter, article-less, variant is preferred, and also structures like

the Yemen government or the Lebanon of today, where the article is required, a few differences between the two corpora were found. The only name where the variant with the article had a higher frequency was the Congo, whereas in BNC the Gambia and also the Sudan showed higher figures than the article-less variants.

Furthermore, in COBUILD the Ukraine had a slight edge over Ukraine, but in the BNC the figures were reversed.

One explanation might be that the BNC version we used is newer than COBUILD, and might therefore better reflect the post-Soviet era.

A third approach was to turn to the Internet, the largest 'corpus' available. Since nativeness vs. nonnativeness does not really matter, we disregarded the nationality of the Web users, which is usually unknown anyhow. To cope with the huge number of examples we restricted ourselves to searching for the names within the frame 'in /

the/ nation name has/is/have/are'. This frame would include strings of words like the situation in /the/ Sudan has

deteriorated or tourists in /the/ Yemen are scarce.

The Web search confirmed our other findings as regards Yemen and Lebanon. Only 2% and 1%, respectively, of their occurrences included the article. It further showed that Ukraine appeared without the article in no less than

83 % of the examples where it was mentioned, and the figures for Sudan were only slightly lower. The most surprising figure was, however, that not only the Congo appeared with the article in a majority of the cases, but that the Gambia did so, too. This was actually the name that used the article most frequently (70 % with the article vs. 56 % for the Congo).

To sum up, if the warcry is 'Frequency Rules!', we can gladly continue saying and writing the Congo and the

Gambia, but leave out the article in the other nation names. A justified pedagogical simplification is to tell students that they never have to use the definite article with any nation name in the singular. Personally, I would travesty the old saying 'When in Rome, do as the Romans', and try to live by the motto: 'When in the Gambia, say the Gambia, but when in Ukraine, don't say the Ukraine!'

SK

5. Is it OK to say eat dinner instead of have dinner?

I remember learning at school that the verb to use before the name of a whole meal was have rather than eat, such as have dinner, whereas eat was used when the verb is intransitive (I don't feel like eating), when describing exactly what one eats (eat an apple) and in certain expressions such as eat X for dinner, eat out/in,

eat your heart out etc. The most comprehensive Swedish-English dictionary (Nordsteds stora svensk-engelska

ordbok) supports this usage to some extent in saying that whereas eat is the general word, when talking about specific meals have is usually used. On the other hand, this book also gives an example of eat in direct combination with the name of a meal: we have (eat) breakfast, lunch etc. Monolingual dictionaries of English consulted (the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, the Cambridge International Dictionary of English and the Collins Cobuild Dictionary of the English Language) give little direct guidance on this topic, but the example sentences they provide seem to support the above ideas. Still, eat dinner etc. is a construction that you often hear and read. The question is: how frequent is this usage? Are there regional or stylistic differences?

We searched for have vs. eat in combination with four meal words (breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper) in spoken and written corpora and ended up with the following statistics:

have X

spoken British spoken American British newspaper American newspaper British books American books

89% (67) 68% (189) 78% (162) 64% (174) 86% (67) 74% (75)

11% (8) 32% (91) 22% (45) 36% (99) 14% (11) 26% (26)

eat X

It seems that have is indeed the most frequent verb used in combination with names of meals, just as the dictionaries suggested, but it also seems that eat is quite common. Furthermore we seem to be faced with a case of regional variation here in that eat is more frequent in American English (26–36%) than in British English (11–

22%). Here are a couple of example sentences with eat from our corpora:

(1) Have you ever eaten dinner or just lunch there? (spoken American)

(2) (...) so I could actually sit eating breakfast till I heard the train coming. (spoken British)

(3) Children may eat dinner with their counselors. (American book)

(4) We're eating supper in my mother-in-law Helen's patio garden by the river at Vauxhall. (The Independent)

What about tea then? In Great Britain having tea does not just mean that you drink a cup of tea, but is used to refer either to a small meal of tea plus biscuits or cake or to a larger meal comparable with supper (sometimes referred to as high tea). The question is: Can you say eat tea? To my non-native ear the combination sounds a bit odd, and there were not all that many examples in our corpora, but I did find some in one of our corpora of

British English. Here are two of them:

(5) I was about to suggest that we eat tea together, and, that being so, you would not mind a fresh pot.

(6) For a very frail person, coming in to assist with eating tea once a week might be a family contribution.

ME

3. Useful websites

Combine business with pleasure!

This time we would like to recommend a site that is both useful and fun for teachers and students of English at various levels. The English Club, which can be accessed at: http://www.englishclub.net/ , contains facts and exercises on grammar and pronunciation, and the vocabulary section includes, for instance, "top 20 words" in different areas, weights and measures in English and a mini-dictionary on computer words. If you think the texts at your school are not numerous enough or good enough, you will find reading

material, such as classical texts from the Bible and Shakespeare and short stories. Games (e.g. Hangman), crosswords, quizzes, jokes etc. to cheer up your students can be found in the section called Fun!. The section on

business English shows you, among other things, how to write a CV in English. Whether you are a student who would like to practise your English or a teacher who feels like discussing teaching or life in general with other

English teachers around the world, you can find an e-mail friend here or go to the discussion forum. There is also information about language holidays and e-books, i.e. books that you buy and read on the computer screen. By subscribing to the monthly newsletter you will be kept posted about changes and news on The English

Club website.

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. In press. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities.

·

–––. 2000. All , the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG. 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl och Kerstin

Norén (eds.). Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket.

·

––– . Forthcoming. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English.

Marco Modiano (ed.). Gävle: Gävle University Press.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: Gävle

University Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. Mid-Atlantic in the context of language change, language birth and language death. In Studies in Mid-

Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: Gävle University Press.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. In press. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies 6, 1-16. Journal of Japan Association for English Corpus Studies. 1999.

·

–––. 1999c. Corpora and dictionaries. In The Perfect Learners' Dictionary. Lexicographica, Series Maior.Thomas

Herbst & Kerstin Popp (eds). .. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 1999.

·

–––. 1999d. Bidrag till Synpunkter på en svensk grammatik. Inlägg vid Svenska Akademiens grammatiksymposium 4-5 mars 1985, 69 -74. Stockholm: Norstedts.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter,

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in May 2001.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

04:3, September 2004

Welcome to the twenty-fourth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Web tips

4. GramTime Publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

Autumn has come to Småland. The cranes circle over the wetlands, planning their migration to wintering grounds in Portugal and elsewhere. We dream about following their example, but stay put at our computers.

In this September issue we deal with some areas of English grammar where the problematic is the fuzzy borderline between unacceptable and acceptable: adjectives used as heads of noun phrases (as in the

problematic) and normally uncountable nouns used in the plural (e.g. knowledges). In the right context, anything can happen, but we are advised to play it safe and stick to the standard rules.

In other areas, however, there is variation between constructions which are equally acceptable, which makes life easier. Thus we learn that I have difficulty in understanding this rule and I have difficulty understanding this rule are equally OK and that we can watch television or watch the television without worrying about whether to use the article or not. Finally, in an article based on a paper by our student Martina Artursson, Magnus tells us how to use lexical items like charming, adorable, divine, beige and mauve like real men and women.

For those of you who, like us, are interested in differences between British and American English, Maria's web tip this time directs you to a very useful website.

We wish you a pleasant autumn. Don't get depressed, remember Karlfeldt's words about "den vår de svage kallar höst" ('that spring which the weak call autumn') and Sandy Wilson's lyrics from the musical The Boyfriend (1954):

It's never too late to have a fling

For autumn is just nice as spring

And it's never too late to fall in love.

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Is it OK to use an abstract adjective as noun phrase head in specific situations, e.g. the problematic

of these two aspects?

One of our subscribers pointed to the fact that her students use adjectives as NP heads also in cases where grammar books say one should not. She wonders whether she should correct her students or whether we are facing a case of change in English syntax. This is a problematic area for many Swedes learning English, since

Swedish is freer to use adjectives as heads of noun phrases than English is. In grammar books (e.g. Engelsk

universitetsgrammatk by Svartvik & Sager), we learn that adjectives are generally only used as NP heads in two cases in English: when they have generic reference, either to a group of people, as in (1), or to an abstract phenomenon, as in (2).

(1) Fortunately, federal legislation that prohibits discrimination against the disabled has been extended to apply to AIDS victims and people infected with HIV (...) (American book)

(2) However, the subconscious may sometimes confuse fantasy with reality, and hence the false memory syndrome which has caused so much trouble recently. (British newspaper)

If we leave groups of people aside, many grammars also point out that there are cases where an adjective can be used as an NP head to refer to a more specific situation or detail, especially in some expressions, such as have/

take the usual (about food) and do the impossible. If the situation is even more specific we need to use another construction, such as inserting a general noun (e.g. part or thing), as in (3), substituting a noun for the adjective, as in (4), or rephrasing the noun phrase into a wh-clause, as in (5). All these three examples can correspond to a phrase with a Swedish adjective used as NP head ('det viktiga').

(3) It's sort of a balance of cheating, you might call it, but the important thing is that it be within bounds (...)

(American radio)

(4) "The importance of this trial is that it is the first in the world to look at its long-term use for heart failure," said Mr Wallwork. (British magazine)

(5) What is important about State of Origin is that Queenslanders feel that it allows them to get even. (Australian newspaper)

When recently reading an article about language teaching I noted the following use of an English adjective used as an NP head, which I find rather specific:

(6) My argument is that the problematic of these two aspects is identical. (Colin Evans: 'The identity and motivation of teachers and students of modern languages'. In Lars-Gunnar Anderssson & Fia Börjeson (eds.):

Språkundervisning på universitet)

Now, what do corpora say? We decided to restrict our corpus searches to a number of adjectives used for exemplification of adjectives not used as NP heads in some grammars (e.g. Svartvik & Sager's university grammar and Gleerups engelska grammatik by Ohlander & Ljung), since looking at all adjectives would be an insurmountable task. The result is the following list of words: absurd, advantageous, annoying, difficult, funny,

important, improper, sad, strange, technical (+ problematic, which Evans used in the example above). We used the 60-million-word CobuildDirect corpus, which comprises British, American and Australian texts of many different kinds (spoken and written).

There were indeed some cases of adjectives from the list above occurring as NP heads. In the majority of cases, however, the adjectives were clearly used with generic reference (i.e. referring in a general sense, not to a specific situation or detail). Thus the examples follow the patterns of noun phrases like the supernatural and the

subconcious. Here are some examples:

(7) Her partnership with the prince is strengthened by a shared passion for the countryside and a Goon-like sense of the absurd. (British newspaper)

(8) The point where he switched from B-list cult figure to serious musician is not absolutely clear possibly because he so adroitly mastered the difficult art of making accessible the difficult and the obscure. (British newspaper)

(9) Expressionism laid bare the inner turmoils, it presented the problematic, it left the viewer perplexed. (British book)

(10) It was also conservative, for parody deliberately made fun of the new and the strange. (American book)

Some of the examples, such as (11), seem to be somewhat more specific, but still more generic than the example from Evans:

(11) Its catalogue of errors range from the absurd – accusing a 92-year-old man who had been dead for four years of fathering an eight-year-old child – to the tragic.

The problematic of used specifically (as in the Evans example above) seems to constitute a special case, since a search on the Internet (at Google) yielded 13,900 hits for the problematic of... (e.g. the problematic of

environmental research, the problematic of human rights, the problematic of circularity and epistemology).

The following example is clearly specific, but on the other hand it occurred in informal spoken English, and it may even be a transcription error (difficult instead of difficulty or difficulties).

(12) Mhm and I think probablyfor MX's sake I'd like to add a bit of the difficult he's been having. (spoken British

English)

Similarly, (13) and (14) are probably just unfinished utterances, where the speaker interrupts him- or herself, starting a new sentence, or is interrupted by another speaker.

(13) I say it's the paradox you see it's the funny it's serious. (spoken British English)

(14) And the will to survive that's the important Yeah. (spoken British English)

The following examples (from a written source) is more difficult to explain. Since all written texts are scanned into the corpus, this cannot be an instance of transcription error, but it could of course be a misprint in the original text (a missing role or something similar).

(15) The real-world features of this intriguing project stress the important of maths in everyday life. (British brochure)

Finally, enjoy the following pun:

(16) You put the sad in Saddam Hussein. (British magazine)

In spite of the occurrence of a few questionable examples of abstract adjectives used as NP heads in specific situations, it seems that we can confidently go on pointing out to our student the fact that Swedish and English differ in this area. We can then recommend that they be careful about using an adjective as the head of a noun phrase in English, unless it refers to an obviously generic situation (e.g. the supernatural or the absurd), or occurs in a set phrase like have/take the usual or do the impossible.

ME

2. Does the preposition in have to be used in I have difficulty/difficulties (in) understanding?

A quick and simple answer to this question seems to be "no". The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English exemplifies the form without the preposition as the only alternative (1), whereas the example in the Cambridge

International Dictionary of English provides an example where the preposition is included (2).

(1) We have enough difficulty paying the rent as it is!

(2) People with asthma have difficulty in breathing.

The Collins Cobuild Dictionary of the English Language provides both alternatives, examples (3) and (4), and so does Norstedts Engelska prepositionsbok (by Hargevik):

(3) I was having difficulty breathing.

(4) I had no difficulty in getting in touch with him.

Judging from our corpora (in this case consisting of around 120 million words of British and American spoken and written text), the idea of both of the first two alternatives (with and without in) being equally possible is supported by authentic material, since we find even more instances of have (+0–2 words) difficulty/difficulties

doing sth, as in (5), than instances where in is included, as in (6). This was true of all the corpora we looked at, regardless of text type (conversation, newspaper text and books)

(5) But we believed that Ted had difficulty anticipating that the experience, especially an unpleasant one, would ever finish. (written AmE)

(6) I think that erm I think virtually throughout the minerals engineering operations the graduates er have never

had any difficulties in getting jobs. (spoken BrE)

We further found one instance of difficulties to and the verb in the infinitive, as in (7), a form that is attested from 1719 in the Oxford English Dictionary, in fact quoted from Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (8):

(7) She says that before this project she had difficulty to find food or to grow enough for the family. (spoken BrE)

(8) I had no great difficulty to cut it down. (Defoe)

If we look more into frequencies, we can observe a possible regional difference here, since the form without in seems to be more frequently occurring in American than in British English. In the American material we looked at, the preposition-less form was heavily dominating, whereas in the British material it was only slightly so.

As for the noun difficulty, this occurred far more often in the singular, as in (9), than in the plural, as in (10). This is also reflected in the fact that all three dictionaries consulted provided examples including difficulty rather than

difficulties.

(9) Well, some people are not demonstrative that way, in other words, they have feelings for you but they can't, they have difficulty expressing those feelings (spoken AmE)

(10) The mystics as a result have insurmountable difficulties in trying to describe their experiences at another level of consciousness.

We can thus tell our students that they can choose for themselves whether to use difficulty/difficulties doing sth and difficulty/difficulties in doing sth, but that the former is preferred in American English.

ME

3. My pupils keep using plural forms like knowledges and harms. Please tell me that I can continue to mark these forms as wrong.

As often is the case in language, there is no simple answer to questions like these. There is often gradience in grammaticality; there are some things which are completely acceptable and some things which are completely wrong - and all shades of "goodness" and "badness" in between. Knowledges and harms are somewhere in this grey area, it seems.

First of all, we note that Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum in their monumental Cambridge Grammar of the

English Language (2002) consider harms to be wrong. However, Geoffrey Leech in his review of this book in

English Language and Linguistics argues that the plural form does in fact occur in formal edited English. Other sentence types that Huddleston and Pullum consider completely grammatical, such as imperatives starting with

don't have + past participle (Don't have eaten all the pizza by the time I get back), do not occur in the 100 million word British National Corpus (BNC). So, if native-speaker grammarians have problems with the notion of grammaticality, it comes as no surprise that non-native linguists and teachers often feel unsure of what to do.

Our first step in this investigation was to look in a few standard dictionaries. The three books consulted were unanimous in listing both nouns as uncountables, thus excluding plural forms like the ones in (1) and (2):

(1) He shows that the origins of contemporary problems, possibilities, and ideologies in practices, policies, and

knowledges can be more adequately understood by taking them to their modern roots in the 1880-1914 period.

(written BrE)

(2) Ending an industry that is predicated upon and produces sex-based exploitation and widespread aggression, through a civil law that makes concrete harms actionable by survivors, has nothing in common with censorship.

(NYT 95)

In the Oxford English Dictionary, however, we find some evidence of the plural having been used in previous periods of the language. (These nouns are therefore parallel cases to evidences which we discussed in GTN

2003:4.) The editors define a number of sub-entries for the two nouns, and for a couple of them the plural is mentioned as a rare possibility. For knowledge they write: "Acquaintance with a branch of learning, a language, or the like; theoretical or practical understanding of an art, science, industry, etc.; skill in or to do something

(obs.). (Rarely in plural.)." The latest attestations of the plural knowledges date from the 19th century. In 1863,

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in the latest citation of the plural of harm about "a hundred harms".

Our searches in our 300 million word corpora of mostly written edited BrE and AmE (The Independent 1990,

1995, 2000; The New York Times 1995, CobuildDirect, the BNC) found very few instances of knowledges. There were only 26 (non-jocular) instances of knowledges in those corpora, so we might conclude that this form is basically unacceptable. It is worth mentioning, however, that knowledges very often occurred together with other plural nouns, as in practices, policies, and knowledges in (1) and the phrase skills and knowledges.

I supplemented these corpus searches with a small-scale elicitation experiment with three native speakers. All three rated knowledges as "totally unacceptable" (1 on a 5 point scale). One of the informants added some interesting comments: "But I know from my reading that knowledges is sometimes used as a count noun these days. (…) [I]n some fields (i.e. educational science and human resource [management]) it seems to be gaining ground, so then I'd be likely to let it slip by. Here's an example from an article I read just yesterday (from the journal Teaching and Teacher Education): Are diverse cultural knowledges brought into play?" This is a nice example of the notions of grammaticality and idiomaticity being interpreted differently in different genres and contexts.

This native informant (who, by the way, is an avid GTN reader) also suggested that I search for the collocation

skills and knowledges because she thought it occurred frequently. A Google search provided 2,370 hits (while the more expected skills and knowledge occurred 980,000 times) - most of them apparently on homepages about management. One particularly interesting example was (3) from an American homepage. The comment in brackets shows that the writer made a very conscious choice of the plural:

(3) Managing in today's business environment requires specialized skills and knowledges (plural intended) at each management level.

(http://www.practicalmgt.com/smmdetail.htm)

We may therefore conclude that knowledges is an old form which is very rare in English nowadays. However, it seems to be used quite frequently in some genres such as business writing.

The plural noun harms seems to be roughly as common as knowledges. In our 300 million words there were 25 instances in mostly "perfectly ordinary-seeming contexts" (Leech 2004:128). (4) is a typical example:

(4) The legislation should reflect accurately the harms to health associated with drug-taking. (The

Independent 2000)

It seems that harms is the more generally accepted and used of the two plural nouns investigated here, although they have roughly the same frequency. This is reflected by the fact that my three native speakers were uncertain about how to judge the acceptability of (4) above. One thought it was completely acceptable, one that it was completely unacceptable and one gave it a non-committal 3 out of 5. Two of the informants noted specifically that

harms is not at all as disturbing as knowledges - and then launched into lengthy discussions of how they would prefer the word order accurately reflect instead of reflect accurately in the sentence. This is further proof of how difficult it is to judge grammaticality in real life - in particular when one uses authentic examples.

This rather extensive discussion of a fairly restricted area has demonstrated above all that it is sometimes very

hard to judge what is grammatical and what is not. Through the use of reference books, corpora, the Internet and native speaker intuition, complex patterns may emerge. For pedagogical purposes, though, knowledges cannot be recommended (unless you are teaching business English) while harms is marginally acceptable. It will be interesting to see in the years to come whether knowledges is spreading to other genres as well.

ML

4. I have heard native speakers use watch the television where I would expect watch television. Do you recommend this?

There is indeed some variation here, as can be seen in (1) and (2):

(1) They sat and watched television. (written BrE)

(2) The Belgian watched the television, of which he could not understand a word. (written BrE)

Svartvik & Sager (1996:166) write that television is usually used without the definite article. This is different to another medium, the radio, which is always used with the article.

We searched our corpora for watch (the) television and on (the) television and found a clear preference for the form without the article. On (the) television is exemplified in (3) and (4) below:

(3) Earlier, Mr Cheney appeared on television to rebut criticism of the Bush administration's actions -- or inactions -- during the coup. (written BrE)

(4) Many scientists were astonished at home that evening to see the faces of the two chemists appearing on the

television as Dan Rather on the CBS evening news headlined the Utah work as "a remarkable breakthrough".

(written BrE)

Among the examples there were a few watch (the) television programmes/news etc. and couple of cases where

on the television meant 'on top of the television' (more about this below), but on the whole these examples were relatively few. We weeded out some of the most disturbing factors, such as switch/turn on the television, and found that overall the construction without the article occurred in about 85% of the cases and the one with the article in about 15%.

Thus we can recommend both variants. Both on television and on the television are frequent enough to be suggested for learners. It seems clear, however, that television is mainly used without the definite article in

Present-day English.

Since on the television is ambiguous between "on television" and "on top of the television", we will conclude this discussion with this quote from Monty Python's Flying Circus:

(5) I object to all this sex on the television. I mean, I keep falling off.

ML

5. Many people claim that men and women use different vocabularies to some extent. Is there any evidence of this in your corpora?

Indeed we do use different vocabularies. The linguist Robin Lakoff, who wrote about this topic in the 1970s, claimed that there are quite a few words that are more frequently used by women than by men. Where men were claimed to use a normal high-frequency adjective like great, women were claimed to use "typically female" words like adorable more often. Lakoff also suggested that women have larger vocabularies when talking about colours than men do. Thus, for instance, a man would often add dark or pale to the basic colour rather than using a specific term. The reason for letting women run the area of colours is, according to Lakoff (1972:49), that "[m]en tend to relegate to women things that are not of concern to them, or do not involve their egos. Among these are problems of fine color discrimination. We might rephrase this point by saying that since women are not expected to make decisions on important matters like what kind of job to hold, they are relegated to the non-crucial decisions as a sop. Deciding whether to name a color 'lavender' or 'mauve' is one such sop."

Lakoff's ideas have certainly encountered opposition, but corpus linguistics enables us to test, to refine or to refute any such claims made from hunches. One of our students, Martina Arthursson, decided to look more carefully at these claims in a charming term paper. She decided to look at usage in The New York Times 1995

and The Independent 1995 on CD-ROM. She chose six adjectives, adorable, aquamarine (a greenish blue colour),

beige, charming, divine ("old fashioned; very pleasant or good; wonderful"; the religious sense of the adjective was excluded) and mauve (a pale purple colour), and compared the sex of the author of the article (or quoted speaker) with a control corpus of randomly selected articles. If there were any differences in the proportions of male and female articles with these adjectives and the percentages of male and female articles in the control corpus it would suggest that women overuse (or underuse) the adjectives.

Below in (1) to (6) are typical examples from the corpora. Male or female after the reference shows the gender of the author. (The name of the man described in (4) is pure coincidence, of course.)

(1) Our real Granny - Hungarian, plump and brown as a baked apple, adorable - wore fur-lined, zip-fronted boots and liked to talk about the price of brussels. (The Independent, female)

(2) In the clear aquamarine sea windsurfers race ahead of brisk prevailing winds. (The New York Times, male)

(3) Her small boutique, tucked away in Belsize Park, is the sort of place where smart, middle-aged ladies whisk through racks of beige suits and peer at themselves in hats. (The Independent, female)

(4) As we sit in the kitchen eating and talking, Levine, an attractive and charming man, takes obvious pride in his wife: he often, unprompted, answers questions for her. (The New York Times, male)

(5) Here, Mr.Tetley's divine athletes were manifestly human, occasionally because of slightly rough partnering, but most of all through the emotional nuances the dancers brought to the ballet, which seemed, blessedly, to be danced at half speed. (The New York Times, female)

(6) Horticultural Society's garden in Wisley, Surrey, puzzled by an even more confused mauve rhododendron in full bloom. (The Independent, female)

Interestingly, women used the adjectives more often than men, and most of the differences in the two newspapers were statistically significant. The only non-significant cases were aquamarine and divine in The New

York Times and charming in The Independent. Arthursson argues that "we have to remember that these three adjectives still were significant in one of the papers so we can not suggest that they are gender-neutral words rather than female words." Although it is hard to determine exactly why certain words are used more by different groups than by others, this study provides a lot of support for the idea that some English adjectives are used more often by women than by men.

The study also looked at what the adjectives described and what collocations there were. Frequency-based information like this is often very useful to give to learners. One of the most frequent collocations was , which was almost three times more frequent than charming woman. Generally, charming was more often used about men (chairman, Englishman, etc.) than about women. A rather surprising finding was that there is a tendency for people to use about people of the same sex as themselves. Thus, (7) and (8) are typical examples where a male writer describes a man, and a female writer describes a woman as charming.

(7) The district auditor was a charming man, and the procedure was fairly user-friendly. (The Independent, male)

(8) The charming young woman with a bubbly personality turns every meal into a culinary adventure. (The New

York Times, female)

The adjective beige mostly described clothes in the newspaper corpora, as exemplified in (9), and divine was most frequently about women in The New York Times and about men in The Independent (10) is one of few examples of divine men in The New York Times.

(9) Aida Hadzic, who works for the United Nations, spent 198 German marks on a pair of beige jeans and a matching cardigan. (The Independent, female)

(10) Brad Pitt's divine. (The New York Times, female)

To conclude this discussion we may say that this study is a good example of how corpora can be used to test controversial hypotheses. Although all of the adjectives in this study were used significantly more by women than by men in at least one newspaper, there were no exclusively "female" words. The main thing for natives and learners is to understand and to be understood, but investigations like these help learners to know how and when to use what. They also provide some charming insights into sociolinguistic variation.

ML

3. Web tips

British and American English

This time we'll go linguistic for the web tips. One of our favourite topics is regional variation in the English language. Whereas grammatical differences between the two regional variants are relatively few and very rarely lead to communication breakdown, differences in vocabulary and pronunciation may be more problematic. In the

GramTime project, we have mainly focused on grammatical differences (since it is a project on English grammar), but we have now found an interesting and attractive website providing a free on-line dictionary, where you can search for a British word or expression and get the American equivalent and vice versa. It is called The American

British/BritishAmerican Dictionary and you will find it at: http://www.peak.org/~jeremy/dictionary/

Not only does the dictionary provide free search possibilities, but it also contains a number of interesting articles on, among other things, differences in British and American pronunciation, the reasons behind regional differences and the history of the English language. You will also find some other useful stuff, such as tables describing, for instance, British and American measurements, money, presidents and prime ministers, maps of the American states and dialects in America and Great Britain and links to other interesting websites (such as various types of dictionaries).

ME

4.

GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

–––. 2004. Syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases with all, whole, both and half. Växjö: Acta

Wexionensia (diss.).

·

–––. 2004. Värsta språket på engelska - om variation och förändring i modernt engelskt språkbruk.

Smålandsposten 29/5 2004.

·

–––. Forthcoming. A university grammar of English with a Swedish perspective. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English (diss.).

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Maria Estling Vannestål. Forthcoming. Fatigue fatigue: An instance of British influence on American

English.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage

questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in December 2004.

Institutionen för humaniora

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Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

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@ GramTime News @

**************

05:3, September 2005

Welcome to the twenty-eighth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editor: Magnus Levin , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Web tip

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

Weatherwise, it has been a very good autumn so far; if you are interested in adverbs of the type weatherwise you will get all the information you dared not/didn't dare to ask about in this issue. Dare is a tricky verb, and so is ought (to), but Maria sheds some light on their use. She also investigates whether curiosity has to come out of something, or if it also can come from something. Curious?

In two other articles we are given useful usage tips about the adjectives Arab Arabian Arabic and Asian

Asiatic and about the terms surname – last name – family name. As far as I can gather, Americans prefer last name and British speakers surname. Sadly, the linguistically correct combination Arabic last name/surname, however, is not really advantageous to its bearers in any of those countries at the moment.

In the final article those of you who have always had a headache about whether to say stomachache or a

stomachache will get the answer from Magnus, and then the rest is fun and sports in the web tip! (In writing you may of course prefer to use stomach ache or stomach-ache; that's fine too.)

That's all for today, usage-tip-wise.

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 and 2000

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. I've come across sentences like Weatherwise, the summer was wonderful and The weatherwise old

man looked at the clouds. Can you say something about these forms in -wise?

Yes, we can. Our answer will be based on various handbooks and linguistics articles plus searches in The New

York Times, The Independent and corpora of spoken American and British English.

In the first sentence in the question, weatherwise is an adverb. There are three main adverb types in -wise as illustrated in (1) - (3).

(1) Cut in half and then in slices crosswise, brush with oil and season, then grill for five minutes on either side.

Alternatively, cut in half lengthwise, brush with oil and season. (IND 2000)

(2) His leg took nine years to mend, and he still walks a bit crab-wise. (IND 2000)

(3) "Football-wise we've been very good and in possession we looked strong, but our problem is that we're not performing well without the ball." (IND 2000)

In (1) the adverb specifies the dimension or direction of an action, in (2) the manner in which the action is carried out, and in (3) the point of view from which the statement is made. The adverbs in (1) and (2) are manner adverbs while the adverb in (3) is a sentence adverb.

In the second sentence in the question, weatherwise is an adjective. Other examples of such adjectives in -wise are streetwise, mediawise, webwise, computerwise, sexwise, tundrawise and winewise where wise means

'knowledgeable or experienced as regards X' (street in streetwise stands metonymically for 'the ways if the big modern city'). This type of adjective formation is moderately productive, especially in journalistic prose. In this answer, however, we will concentrate on the adverb use.

The new use of adverbs in -wise as sentence adverbs developed as late as in the 1940s, apparently in the United

States. Typical examples from our 1990 written American material are: budget-wise, career-wise, diet-wise,

family-wise, health wise, market-wise, percentage-wise, style-wise. Such adverbs have been called "viewpoint adverbs" and can have several useful functions:

(a) Providing a focus for a clause

(4) She featurewise, she was the best bulldog of the litter, by far. (Am spoken)

(b) Organizing discourse beyond the clause level

The adverb can be used to tell in which order different aspects of a topic will be dealt with. In (5), two worlds are mentioned initially, and then basketball-wise introduces the first one.

(5) I fell in love with the place from the time I arrived on campus, Williams said of Duke. Coach K said something

I'll remember for a lifetime. He said when you come here you're going to get the best of two worlds. You're going to compete basketball-wise against quality people day in and day out and it's going to make you a better player.

And the exact same thing will happen with academics. (NYT 2000)

(c) Creating an economical and impersonal style

Terseness and a "flavor of authority and officialdom" have been mentioned as motivating forces behind the use of viewpoint adverbs in -wise. An example of a statement by an official spokesperson is given in (6).

(6) As to the details, that would have to come from the police as to who was doing what traffic-wise, said Melissa

Farley, a New York City Transit spokeswoman. (NYT 2000)

(d) Creating a politeness strategy (when added finally, after a question)

(7) S1: So Jude you didn't do anything today huh?

S2: Uh

S1: I mean errands wise (LSAC)

The affix -wise is most commonly added to a noun in the singular, but plurals occur: reputations-wise, drinks-

wise, relationships-wise, spuds-wise. There are also cases where the suffix is added to a noun compound, as in

bottom-line-wise, name-recognition-wise, love-life-wise; a coordinated noun phrase as in sex-and-violence-wise; or to a more or less established noun phrase consisting of adjective + noun, as in current-affairs-wise and great-

line-wise. As these are somewhat clumsy and stylistically marked they are presumably used mainly to create a special effect.

There were a few instances in the data of so-called affix generalization, with -wise being added to adjectives where one would have expected the already existing form in -(al)ly to block the addition of -wise, or, possibly in some of the cases, the use of a denominal form like strategy-wise:

NYT 1995 strategic-wise

NYT 2000 academic-wise, cerebral-wise

IND 1995 social-wise

IND 2000 international-wise

We even found one instance in the spoken data where -wise was added to an adverb, cf. (8):

(8) That's pretty good. I just, what it boils down to, I liked the movie cinematically-wise, because I'm a fan. If you're not a fan, it was boring. (LSAC)

Viewpoint adverbs in -wise are more common in speech than in written language. They are also frequently used in some genres of newspaper reporting and in particular in the Sports, Arts and entertainment and Living and social life sections. In the American examples, sports coaches, players, artists and, less often, businessmen, politicians, official spokespersons and the man/woman in the street are quoted when they comment on games, transfer deals, injuries, music, current affairs or their own personal situation. In the British data, on the other hand, a smaller proportion (approximately half) of the examples occurred in represented speech, and it is more common that viewpoint adverbs in -wise occur in reviews of books, films, plays, exhibitions etc. or in commentaries and columns on diverse aspects of modern living and various social phenomena.

There is a consensus that the viewpoint adverbs in -wise developed in American English and that they have remained an American specialty. It is therefore of interest to study the frequency distribution figures in comparable American and British texts. Table 1 gives the figures for these adverbs in The New York Times and

The Independent for the years 1990, 1995 and 2000 and in three spoken corpora.

Table 1. Estimated frequency of viewpoint adverbs in -wise normalized per 1 million words in spoken and written

American and British corpora.

Approximate size Tokens Tokens/1 M words

60 M 77 1.3

New York Times 1990

53 M 77 1.5

New York Times 1995

67 M 132 2.0

New York Times 2000

35 M 29 0.8

The Independent 1990

35 M 101 2.9

The Independent 1995

35 M 153 3.4

The Independent 2000

5 M 38 7.6

The Longman Spoken American Corpus ca 1995

BNC, Context-governed component ca 1990

BNC, Demographic component ca 1990

6 M

4 M

37

27

6.2

6.8

As Table 1 clearly shows, something happened in the newspapers between 1990 and 1995. In 1990, the instances of viewpoint adverbs in -wise were few and far between in the British newspaper, but already in 1995 there were more tokens in the British newspaper than in the American, in spite of the fact that the figures for The

New York Times rose as well. In 2000, the development continued, with increases both in the American and the

British newspaper and with the British newspaper still in the lead. In other words, British English seems to have caught up with and overtaken American English in this area in the short period under study.

The spoken corpora do not make diachronic comparison possible, but the figures clearly show that viewpoint adverbs in -wise are several times more frequent in the spoken language. At least two different types of social prestige may lie behind the rise of -wise. First, we have users who want to sound authoritative and important

(officials, coaches, minor league businessmen) and, second, discerning writers and speakers who use -wise skilfully and judiciously, sometimes seriously, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, with a wink to informed readers or listeners.

In the spoken language, one supporting factor may be the wish to avoid the alternatives, many of which are longer, clumsier and more formal: Adj + -ly (speaking) (theoretically speaking), as regards N, with respect to N,

as far as N is concerned.

Viewpoint adverbs in -wise are generally considered to be informal, and commentators from the 1960s and up to the 1990s call the use a "gimmick", "fad" or "trendy jargon". They have indeed become a favourite target for language mavens, and a quick search on the World Wide Web shows that the use of these adverbs is discouraged in very strong words on a number of more or less academic sites giving advice on writing and usage. However, some serious commentators admit that they can be "eminently useful" and that "careerwise is much quicker than

'in relation to my career' and moneywise more direct than 'as far as money is concerned'". There is obviously a place for viewpoint adverbs in -wise in the English language, and although they seem to have an informal ring, this may change if they become more common and spread to new genres as part of the ongoing general colloquialization of the language. It may of course also happen that they remain typical of a particular style. In any case, the growing use of the -wise adverbs indicates that the advice of popular usage mavens on this point goes largely unheeded. It will be interesting to follow the development of these adverbs in the future, especially to see if they spread to new registers like academic writing, where they still seem to be rather rare. The main thing for second language learners, as indeed for native speakers, is not to overuse these adverbs. For instance, not a single one has been used in this article.

HL

2. Should I say that I dared not or didn't dare and that I need not or didn't need to?

Following up on a usage question that we discussed in GTN 99:3

, concerning which construction (main verb or auxiliary verb) is more frequent with used to in negative and interrogative clauses, we will now extend the study to include two other marginal modals: dare and need. In that GTN issue, we concluded that used to was rather rare in negative and interrogative sentences in both constructions types, but especially as an auxiliary. Let us look at the two other verbs, one at a time, starting with dare.

It turns out that in the 60-million-word Cobuild corpus, dare predominates as an auxiliary verb, both in negative statements and questions, as indicated by the following table:

Table 1. Dare in auxiliary function and main verb function auxiliary main verb total negative statement

193 75% 64 25% 257

117 98.5% 3 3.5% 120 question

The figures in the auxiliary column include both dare and dared and the main verb column includes do/does/did

not dare and don't/doesn't/didn't dare. Let us now separate negative statements and questions and look at some examples behind the figures. First, in negative statements, the auxiliary form, as in (1), and (2) was about three times as frequent as the main verb form, illustrated by (3) and (4):

(1) The Chechens, too, dare not risk a loss of face or credibility. (British newspaper)

(2) The little girls dared not speak to him. (American book)

(3) I didn't dare to drive the car. (British book)

(4) For four years he doesn't dare look inside. (British radio)

In their university grammar, Svartvik & Sager write that when dare is used as a main verb, it is followed by a to infinitive, as in example (3) above. However, like example (4) above, most of the cases in the corpus did NOT contain the infinitive marker to.

Observe that the contracted form daren't can be used about both the present and the past, as examples (5) and

(6) indicate:

(5) I know I daren't lose again. (British tabloid)

(6) He knew that he daren't miss a single opportunity – even though it meant almost no sleep – to bring the talks to a successful conclusion. (British tabloid)

In questions, the auxiliary form was totally predominant (used in 98.5% of the cases), as in (7), whereas the main verb use, as in (8), only occurred three times. In most of the examples, the subject was the personal pronoun I:

(7) Dare I suggest that if it was common knowledge, the Australian people might attempt to put into power a government that would create its own finances (...) (Australian newspaper)

(8) Do I dare order you a drink? (American book)

When dare was used as an auxiliary, the subject was almost always a personal pronoun. There was only one single example of a subject consisting of a more complex noun phrase:

(9) Dare my wife and I hope for Lloyd Webber instead of A A Gill in Style? (British newspaper)

In quite a few of the instances, dare I say... was inserted as a kind of comment in the middle of a sentence, as in

(10) and (11):

(10) (...) you're persistent and occasionally, dare I say it, fortune smiles on you. (British newspaper)

(11) For the lovers of the unusual – dare I say grotesque – there is the double "Waterlily", a multipetalled mophead of narrow, deep mauve petals. (British magazine)

More than half of the questions in the auxiliary group consisted of the fixed phrase How dare...:

(12) How dare you call me the prince of sleaze? (American radio)

We found no instances including other question words, so it seems that, besides the How dare... phrase, dare is mainly used in yes/no questions. Neither were there any examples of the past tense forms dared or did ... dare used in questions. There was also a clear regional difference, in that dare used as an auxiliary mainly occurred in

British texts, whereas the main-verb use was equally frequent in both varieties.

Moving now to need, we can first note that this verb was far more frequent than the marginal modal dare. There was also a clear difference between negative statements and auxiliaries, as we can see in the following table:

Table 1. Need in auxiliary function and main verb function

Auxiliary need Main verb need Total

negative statement

700 57% 534 43% 1234

17 5% 296 95% 313 question

In negative statements, need was just a little more frequent as an auxiliary, as in (13) and (14), than as a main verb, as in (15) and (16):

(13) Machines take no account of human needs, and you need not be working on a factory assembly line to feel as though you are. (British books)

(14) But she need not have worried. (British tabloid)

(15) He was not in the opening scenes and did not need to be on hand. (American book)

(16) Again, he doesn't need to get to California for his campaign, but those Senate candidates could use him.

(American radio)

As illustrated by the examples, auxiliary need can refer both to present and past time. The same regional difference that was spotted in the study of dare recurred in the need material, i.e. the auxiliary use of need was more frequent in British English than in American English.

In questions (which occurred much more rarely than negative statements), the proportions of auxiliary/main verb was dfiferent from that of negative statements: auxiliary need, as in (17), only occurred in 5% of the cases and main-verb use of need , as in (18), was totally predominating (95%).

(17) Need you wonder why? (British book)

(18) Well does it need to be booked in or what? (spoken British English)

In questions with auxiliary need, the verb mainly occurred with personal pronoun subjects, especially I, just as was the case with dare. Here is the only exception, but the subject is still a pronoun, the generally referring pronoun one:

(19) Need one say more? (British tabloid)

Similarly, there were no cases of the past tense form needed, and need in auxiliary function was only used in yes/

no questions.

To conclude, it seems that, apart from need in questions, dare and need are more frequently used as auxiliaries than as main verbs. In both cases, the auxiliary form is more frequent in British English than in American English, and both verbs can be used to refer both to the present and the past. In the next usage question we will look into another marginal modal verb: ought to.

ME

3. Is ought to ever used as a main verb (I didn't ought to/Do you ought to...? etc) by native speakers of English?

In grammar books, ought to is not generally described as a marginal modal, that is, a verb that can function both as an auxiliary and as a main verb (like dare and need discussed in the previous usage question). Still, this is something that our reader has come across in native speaker English. So what do our corpora tell us?

First of all, in line with descriptions in the literature, ought to as a main verb was much rarer than dare and need in the main-verb function. We found only a few occurrences of ought to used as a main verb, as in (1) and (2), all of them in spoken language or dialogues in fiction, compared to hundreds of examples of ought to used as an auxiliary, as in (3) and (4):

(1) They walked in silence for a while, then Sidney said,"I suppose I didn't ought to ask, but it's important to me.

(British book)

(2) I don't know what you think, I just wondered did we ought to order anything from Friends of the Earth catalogue like those sort of things to sell. (spoken British English)

(3) Fisher objected that an Archbishop of York ought not to encourage illegality by being present at the requiem

(...) (British book)

(4) Ought I to wear it for the ceremony? (British book)

This time, the corpus material showed no regional difference, but main-verb use of ought was equally infrequent in British and American English. Similarly, it was rare in both negative statements and questions.

Observe that auxiliary ought was sometimes used without the infinitive marker to:

(5) I think that's that was important and we ought come back to that. (spoken British English)

(6) And if she was, perhaps he ought not be trying to murder her? (British book)

In the case of the spoken material, the omission of to may of course be due to transcription errors, but this form also occurred a few times in written dialogues taken from fiction, as illustrated in example (6).

ME

4. Is it OK to say from curiosity?

In dictionaries, we are told that the preposition preceding curiosity should be out of. Since we say that we can do something from fear, from jealosy and from spite, however, it is easy to draw the conclusion that we also do something from curiosity. Judging from our corpora, however, from curiosity is not often used by native speakers of English; at least we found only two instances in several hundred millions of words, as opposed to quite a few occurrences of out of curiosity. Here are these examples, both from the British National Corpus:

(1) "Where's Dada?", Nicandra asked, not from curiosity, more for something to say. (British book)

(2) Most youngsters probably start simply from curiosity, or because their friends are doing it. (British book)

There were also a few cases where from curiosity occurs when there is something in the preceding text which prompts the use of from rather than out of:

(3) For over thirty years, along with my fellow teachers, I have been going to educational conferences, and training sessions, and workshops, to hear countless leaders in education talk, as you do, about the dignity of the child, and the importance of individual differences, and of fostering positive self-concepts, and building on the interests of the child, and letting the child learn from curiosity rather than fear. (British book)

(4) They are as follows: a) experimental use, stemming from curiosity about the drug; b) socio-recreational use, resulting from peer-group pressure (...) (British book)

(5) It isn't at all nice of me, thought Lydia, and they won't be pleased, but they'll come from curiosity and snobbery, since although they don't approve of me they think I'm rather posh. (British book)

There were no instances whatsoever of from curiosity in the Cobuild corpus, the spoken American Longman corpus, The Independent 2000 or The New York Times 2000. Strangely enough, although out of curiosity abounds in all these corpora, it only occurred once in the 100-million-word British National Corpus, from which the examples of from curiosity given above were taken.

ME

5. Which adjective should I use: Arab, Arabian or Arabic and Asian or Asiatic?

All these three adjectives occurred rather frequently in our Cobuild corpus. We started out by getting rid of all occurrences of Saudi Arabian and The United Arab Emirates, and started looking for patterns in how the words are used in authentic texts. It soon became clear that Arabian tends to be the preferred word in geographical contexts, as in (1) to (3), the last two of which are names rather than common nouns:

(1) Other members of the Screen Actors' Guild appeared on floats depicting a South Sea island, a Chinese palace, and an Arabian desert complete with dashing sheikhs and a veiled harem. (American book)

(2) The Yemeni government has so far declined to take the same policy line as other states in the Arabian

Peninsula in reaction to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. (British radio)

(3) Authorities in Yemen are supplying water and some food to refugees from Somalia, who made a harrowing journey on a packed ship across the Arabian Sea. (American radio)

This is also the adjective used in the well-know fairy tale Arabian Nights, and to refer to horses:

(4) The theme was Arabian Nights and the glittering black and white marquee surrounded by dozens of flaming torches was soon filled with celebrity friends dancing to the sounds of an eight-piece Moroccan band. (British tabloid)

(5) Pease built a bungalow for his use on the plains, and a new Arabian horse was provided for his use, one not yet infected by tsetse. (British book)

Besides being the name of a language, as in (6), Arabic is mainly used to talk about phenomena related to language and culture, as illustrated by examples (7) to (10).

(6) The couple sent both boys to classes to find out about their religion and culture and to learn Arabic. (British tabloid)

(7) He learned all the prayers and they were so impressed by his Arabic accent that he was often asked to read them aloud. (British tabloid)

(8) In Arabic culture pistachio nuts are said to kindle lust. (Australian newspaper)

(9) The twenty-something Londoner of Nigerian and Ghanaian parentage starte training at a school for traditional

Arabic dances in 1986, the same year that she became a Buddhist, and three years later she was dancing professionally. (British magazine)

(10) In "Writer in a Nutshell" this week, Robin Ostle, a specialist in modern Arabic literature at the University of

Oxford, talks to us abot the Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz. (British radio)

Arabic is also the adjective used to talk about numerals, in contrast to Roman numerals:

(11) So-called Arabic numerals originated in fact among the Hindus of India, though the misnomer reveals the source through which this numbering system reached Western civilization. (American book)

Arab is clearly the word to go for when you wish to talk about politics. Here are some examples:

(12) It's significant, too, that as Saudi-Iranian relations have been restored, formal links between Iran and Egypt, another major partner in the Arab alliance, are being upgraded. (American radio)

(13) The emergency meeting was called at the request of the PLO to consider what it described as the threat the suspension of the dialogue posed to the Arab and Palestinian peoples. (British radio)

(14) On Sept. 5, Arab terrorists entered the Olympic village, killed two Israeli coaches, and took nine Israeli athletes hostage. (American book)

(15) Countries which declared they wanted an Arab solution to the Kuwaiti crisis had disregarded that obligation.

(British radio)

One particularly common collocation including Arab was the Arab world:

(16) The university in the Arab world has no link with the job market whatsoever she says. (British magazine)

We did find exceptions to the trends just described (such as Arab occasionnally being used about culture), but as a whole, there were fairly clear differences betwen the three adjectives. Finally, in other contexts than the ones used above, Arabian seems to be the preferred alternative:

(17) There was a joy and freedom about the Arabian football that contrasted disturbingly with England's manner and mood. (British tabloid)

(18) Social/support group meets regularly in London. All Arabian lesbians welcome. (British magazine)

Turning now to Asian and Asiatic, the corpus shows an enormous difference in frequency betwen the two adjectives. Asian occurred almost 2,500 times, whereas Asiatic was used in 57 instances. The majority of these

57 tokens consisted of a name (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society) and a fixed expression (the Asiatic Mode of

Production) and most of the others referred to animals living in Asia, especially lions:

(19) He is one of just 350 Asiatic lions left in the world. (British tabloid)

(20) Others were talking about fossils, or wild Asiatic donkeys. (British newspaper)

However, when it comes to elephants, Asian was used in all the instances:

(21) Explorer John Blashford-Snell has discovered the world's biggest Asian elephant. (British tabloid)

There was also a small "odds and ends" group of Asiatic tokens, as illustrated by the following examples:

(22) He wrote that such barbarism was to be expected, since "the Russians are, as is well known, a primitive,

semi-Asiatic people whose national traditions and present totalitarian government combine to place a low estimate on human life. (American book)

(23) Hobsbawm and Anderson would probably agree with Habib's critique of the thesis of Asiatic immutability.

(British book)

Summing up, we can recommend our readers to use Arabic about language and culture, Arab about politics and

Arabian when talking about geography and most other phenomena. Furthermore, it seems safest to go for Asian rather than Asiatic except when we talk about lions living in Asia.

ME

6. Which is the most common term surname, last name or family name?

In the last issue of GTN (2005:2) we discussed the differences between first name, given name, Christian name and forename, and now the time has come for surname, last name and family name. Judging from the Longman

dictionary of contemporary English, there seem to be some differences between the words. Last name is given as

"especially AmE", while no regional information is given on surname and family name, which presumably indicates that these are more regionally neutral. Interestingly, surname and family name are not given the same explanation in the dictionary - a surname is "the name that you share with your parents, or often with your husband if you are a married woman, and which in English comes at the end of your full name; last name" while a family name is "the name someone shares with all the members of their family; surname, last name".

The three alternatives are exemplified below in (1) to (3).

(1) Posh is a most unusual first name, as indeed Spice is a most unusual surname. (Ind 2000)

(2) What is your last name again? (LSAC)

(3) In addition, scores of towns are named after the family names of their founders. (NYT 1990)

We investigated the singular and plural forms of the terms in The New York Times and The Independent 1990 and

2000, as illustrated in Table 1. An additional search in the Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC) produced

214 instances of last name, while family name was only found twice, and surname was not found at all, which clearly indicates a preference for last name in spoken AmE. In spoken BrE from the British National Corpus

(BNC), however, there was a clear preference for surname (65 tokens), while last name (eight) and family name

(three) were much rarer.

Table 1. The use of surname(s), last name(s) and family name(s) in NYT 1990 and 2000 and Ind 1990 and 2000

NYT 1990 NYT 2000 Ind 1990 Ind 2000

N % N % N % N %

45

20

148 32 103 75 209

76

surname(s)

126

57

248

54

6

4

20

7

last name(s)

family name(s)

50

23

60

14

28

21

47

17

221

100

456 100 137 100 276 100

Totals

The results suggest that last name is indeed the preferred alternative in AmE, although much less clearly so in writing than in speech. It is possible that the parallelism between first name and last name is a factor that supports this usage. In BrE, on the other hand, surname is the most frequent. Last name was strikingly rare in

The Independent, which means that AmE influence in this area seems to be rather weak. As regards possible change in progress, there is an interesting increase in AmE of surname, and slight decreases in both newspapers for family name. More material and a larger time depth is required to ascertain if there really are changes in progress.

To conclude, we may recommend learners to use either their last name or their surname when introducing themselves to native speakers.

ML

7. Should I say I have earache/stomachache or I have a(n) earache/stomachache?

According to the literature, both alternatives exist. Quirk et al (1985:279) suggest that headache is "always a count noun", i.e. it is used with the indefinite article. However, they go on, "[o]ther nouns formed from ache are treated as noncount when they denote a condition: Nuts give me toothache. When they denote a single attack or pain, they are usually count in AmE and noncount in BrE: On and off she suffers from a stomachache <esp

AmE> / (the) stomachache <esp BrE>". (Stomachache is more often written as two words - stomach ache - in

BrE than in AmE).

The variation is illustrated below in (1) to (4):

(1) The morning when I made the call to my mother's job, I said only that I had a stomachache. (NYT 95)

(2) Jillian has an earache. (NYT 95)

(3) I still had stomachache. (www.hss.fullerton.edu/womens/tech/_disc9/00000250.htm)

(4) She told me she had earache and we didn't talk (…) (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wbagnold.htm)

We investigated this variation in our corpora. Unfortunately, these phrases were rather rare, but we still managed to find clear tendencies in the material. The New York Times 1995 produced eleven tokens – all with the indefinite article – while in the British National Corpus there were six cases of a stomach ache/earache and eleven stomach

ache/earache. Additional sample searches on Google in the .uk and .edu (mostly AmE) domains provided support for these findings. In the .uk domain there were 300 tokens with the indefinite article and 173 without, while in the .edu domain there were 134 tokens with a and only eleven without (and those tokens without the definite article could mostly be argued to be in the sense of a condition rather than an attack).

We may therefore conclude that stomachache and earache normally take the indefinite article in AmE, and that this is also the preferred alternative in BrE (although there is a lot of variation in this variety). The supposedly

American variant turned out to be the more common one in Britain as well, and therefore we can recommend our readership to have a stomachache rather than just stomachache.

ML

3.

Web tip

Time for sports!

It's not that we plan to force you to start playing rugby or anything, but we have found an interesting web site for anyone who wants to learn more about various sports: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sportacademy/default.stm

This site is a perfect place to go to find out about the equipment and rules of football (i.e. soccer, since this is a

British site...), cricket, golf, rugby, basketball or what have you! You can also pick up terminology. Did you, for instance, know the meaning of anchor leg (athletics), bogey (golf), feint (football), tiebreak (tennis), rebound

(basketball) and grubber kick (rugby)? If not, you will find the answers in the "jargon guide" of each sport section. Other things you can do is reading about successful players. As a Swedish citizen, I'm of course extra proud to read the following sentence about Björn Borg:

"The Swede they called 'ice man' was perhaps the finest men's tennis player ever."

Since the website is in English it could definitely be used for classroom activities, such as writing about or learning vocabulary in one's favourite field of sports. And should you get tired of working as an English teacher

(or whatever you do for a living), it is never too late to go to the skills section and learn how to become a professional player in the sport you are interested in.

ME

4.

GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

–––. 2004. Syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases with all, whole, both and half. Växjö: Acta

Wexionensia (diss.).

·

–––. 2004. Värsta språket på engelska - om variation och förändring i modernt engelskt språkbruk.

Smålandsposten 29/5 2004.

·

–––. Forthcoming. A university grammar of English with a Swedish perspective. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English (diss.).

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Maria Estling Vannestål. 2005. Fatigue fatigue: The spread and development of a vogue word in British and American English. In The power of words. Studies in honour of Moira Linnarud. Solveig Granath, June

Miliander & Elisabeth Wennö (eds.). Karlstad: Karlstad University.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.hum.vxu.se/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in December 2005.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2006-03-24

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

**************

99:3, September 1999

Welcome to the sixth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter from the GramTime Project at Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling , MA

Contributing editors: Jan Svartvik , Prof Em and Magnus Levin , MA

Contents

0. Editorial

(HL)

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. Book tip

5. GramTime publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

Like most of you, we're back to a new term in the same old building, with the same old colleagues, teaching the same old grammar … Thank God we're getting fresh students every year! And thank God, too, that the English language changes slightly all the time! That makes teaching more challenging and keeps us busy in our research efforts.

Our term start has also been brightened by a trip to the old cathedral town of Lincoln, where the local university

organized MAVEN 2, a follow-up conference to The Major Varieties of English (MAVEN 97) which was held in Växjö in 1997. Magnus, Maria and myself presented papers on grammatical differences between varieties of English, but the most burning theme of the conference was a discussion of "linguistic imperialism", i.e. the idea that the spread of English around the globe is detrimental to local cultures and that this spread is perpetrated by conspiring bodies like the British Council and the United States Information Service. There is probably a grain of truth in the conspiration/exploitation theory, but I believe the issue is far too complicated to be given one simple explanation (cf. books by Crystal, McArthur and Svartvik reviewed in GTN 98:1, 98:3 and 99:2).

We're getting a lot of positive feedback from readers, but we are still disappointed with two things: The number of subscribers grows too slowly - have you told your colleagues about us? And GTN is not as interactive as we had hoped it to be - aren't there any more riddles about English grammar that need to be solved?

Anyway, we hope you will enjoy this instalment of GTN, with absolutely riveting stuff on the progressive, used to, adverbs without -ly and that obsession of the managing editor, the out the-construction.

Hans Lindquist

Project director, Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It has received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants work half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman American Spoken Corpus

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken and Written New Zealand English

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

In the near future, we will add The Los Angeles Times on CD-ROM and The Times on CD-ROM to this lis t.

2. Usage questions and answers

1. How frequent is the progressive form with stative verbs like love, understand and remain? Are there differences between speech and writing, between British and American English or between particular words?

In their English grammar: theory and use (1998: 181), Hasselgård, Johansson and Lysvåg contrast stative versus dynamic verbs, saying that dynamic verbs refer to voluntary action that can be controlled by the subject of the clause, whereas stative verbs describe conditions and properties over which human beings have no control. They also exemplify stative verbs in three different categories: (1) verbs of perception, such as see, hear, smell, (2) verbs denoting cognition or emotional states, such as know, understand, think, believe, hate, love and (3) verbs denoting physical or abstract relationships, such as be, remain, resemble, contain, want, own. All these words normally occur in the simple form rather than in the progressive. However, in their university grammar, Svartvik

& Sager state that there are a great many exceptions, where the use of the progressive form changes the meaning of the verb, as in (1) – (6). The simple form is here used to express a state whereas the progressive form indicates an event.

(1) I can't hear you very well. ('perceive something with one's ears')

(2) I hope to be hearing from you soon. ('receive news from somebody')

(3) I imagine that $250 is a fair price. ('suppose something')

(4) You are imagining things. ('have a false idea about something')

(5) She expects you to come. ('think something will happen because it seems likely or has been planned')

(6) She is expecting (a baby). ('be pregnant')

One of our readers wrote that he has come across (especially in speech) the use of a stative verb in the progressive form also when the verb is used to express state rather than event, and he asked us whether our corpora can describe this usage. We looked at some of the verbs (know, understand, believe, hate, love, like,

remain, seem, resemble, contain and own) in spoken and written British and American English material and found examples of progressive forms of most of these words. Note that none of the words mentioned are of the type where the progressive form clearly changes the meaning of the word (such as see, hear, imagine, expect, think).

Here are some examples from our material.

(7) He had to be knowing about this. (The New York Times)

(8) Now you're in a nature reserve you know you need to be understanding a bit of ecology here you know

here's a bit of interpretation for it. (spoken British English)

(9) Hunter was believing that he had his help, that he would be a friend. (American novel)

(10) But these kids are loving it because they haven't been exposed they haven't been conditioned and stuff.

(spoken British English)

(11) But Mr Hurd is remaining silent. (The Independent)

Our reader is probably right in his assumptions that usage varies across dialects, styles and individual items.

First of all, the progressive form was more frequent in the American material than in the British. This was true of both spoken language and newspaper text (The Independent versus The New York Times). The progressive form

was also as expected more frequent in spoken than in written langauge.

It is very difficult to state whether some stative words lend themselves to the progressive form more readily than others without going through all examples where the verbs were used in their ordinary simple form (which proved too time-consuming at the moment). The corpus material we used consisted of some 100 million words, and we found 130 instances of be (in any form) plus one of the stative verbs mentioned above in the progressive (i.e. just under 2 instances per million words on average). One of these verbs, resemble, did not occur at all in the progressive form, but the reason for this could simply be that the verb resemble is less frequent than the other verbs – it certainly was in the material. The number of occurrences for each of the other verbs was to be found on a scale from 3 (contain) to 26 (love), compared to thousands of examples per verb in the simple form. In the light of this corpus information, it seems quite safe to conclude that the use of stative verbs in the progressive form is an existing but not very frequent feature of the English language.

Finally, we found an interesting sentence with seem, where the progressive form has obviously been transferred from the verbal complement, where it would have been a natural device for expressing gradual change:

(12) The weather is seeming to worsen. (spoken British English) (cf. The weather seems to be worsening.)

ME

2. When are adverbs used with the -ly ending and when without, as in real good/really good and dig

deep/dig deeply?

I knew you'd ask. This question is so complex that a whole book could be written about it. In fact, a whole book has been written about it (Ly or zero suffix? a study in variation of dual-form adverbs in present-day English by

Lise Opdahl), but here we'll only discuss some examples of these constructions.

Svartvik & Sager provide a long list of examples with some indications of degree of formality and regional variation in their university grammar, like 'informal' and 'in particular AmE'. Some of these claims will be compared with our corpora.

It must be kept in mind that many of the adverbs have different meanings when they are used with or without the -ly ending. For instance, there is to work hard ('to use a lot of energy, effort or attention') and I hardly know

him ('almost not') and to be running short of something ('something is being used up and there will soon not be enough left') and Mr Hogan will be back shortly ('soon').

To begin with we will look at the modification of adjectives. Both forms with the suffix and suffix-less forms are used to modify adjectives, as seen in (1) and (2):

(1) Had a really good time out there. (BrE)

(2) So you had a real good time. (AmE)

Both in spoken BrE and spoken AmE the -ly form predominates, being about four times more common in AmE and in BrE about ten times more common than the suffix-less form. The material therefore gives some support to

Svartvik & Sager's claim that real good is "very colloquial, in particular AmE". The short form seems to have a strong foothold in BrE as well. Real good also occurs frequently in written language, but these instances are mainly attributable to quotations from spoken language and dialogue in fictional texts.

The modification of verbs is a very complex area and only a limited number of instances can be discussed here.

The first adverb under discussion is loud(ly), exemplified in (3) and (4) below:

(3) Shout it out loud. (AmE)

(4) 'Hurry,' he called out loudly. (BrE)

In this case the suffix-less form is by far the most frequent. A search for out loud yielded more than 450 tokens, whereas out loudly only resulted in twelve hits. In addition, the spoken AmE material only contained 30 instances of the suffix-less version and none with the suffix. Interestingly, certain verbs seem to prefer certain adverbs.

Loud was used with most types of verbs (read, say, laugh), but no instances of call out loud were found. In contrast, more than half the tokens of out loudly involved the verb call. There is a tendency to use loud when the adverb means 'aloud', the opposite of 'to oneself'', and loudly when it means 'in a high voice'. There were, however, several instances of scream out loud, where quite obviously the meaning is 'in a high voice' rather than

'aloud' (how do you scream to yourself?).

Several instances of variation taken up by Svartvik & Sager are very rare, but our material showed that some of the adverbs do not behave exactly as predicted. For instance, only to sleep light is given in the book, but this was not found at all in the corpora. Instead we found five instances of to sleep lightly, exemplified in (5). In contrast, the expression to travel light ('without taking many bags'), the only form in the grammar, is also the only one in our material, as seen in (6):

(5) I also lie diagonally, go to bed early and sleep lightly. (BrE)

(6) Don't take too much gear, travel light, just pen and clipboard. (BrE)

Another issue is the adverb cheap(ly). The grammar only gives to buy, sell, get cheap on the one hand, and to

live cheaply on the other. In fact, live was only found with the -ly form, whereas buy, sell and get were used with both forms. Below in (7) - (10) the possibilities are presented:

(7) And although Gramps had left her enough money for just this purpose she'd been hoping to live cheaply so

that she could stay in Ireland for at least a month, see as much of the country as she could.(BrE)

(8) Flora envied them because all the things she craved in life they could buy cheaply in the NAAFI. (BrE)

(9) Those animals not ransomed were usually sold cheaply to cultivators or butchers who knew full well the

origins of the animal. (BrE)

(10) To sell cheap and to buy dear. (BrE)

The construction to dig deep(ly) illustrates an interesting point. It has been claimed that the suffix-less form is most frequent at the end of sentences. The four instances found of to dig deeply were actually followed by a prepositional phrase beginning with into, as seen in (11) below. However, most of the more than one hundred instances of to dig deep were in fact also followed by prepositional phrases, as in (12), but about one instance in ten was found in sentence-final position, which can be seen in (13).

(11) Citrus growers in the central Burnett are furious at having to pay triple penalty rates for water they glean by

digging deeply into dry sections of the Boyne and the Burnett River beds. (AusE)

(12) Having invited himself to the presidential poker table, Perot has yet to dig deep into his own pockets to stay

in the game. (AmE)

(13) The struggle to explore the inner space of their materials has driven sculptors to dig deep. (BrE)

The use of suffixed and suffix-less adverbs is a highly complex area where each case is influenced by many factors, such as regional variation, channel (spoken vs. written language) and possibly the position in the sentence. It does appear, however, that it is advisable to be careful not to overuse suffix-less adverbs.

ML

3. Which is the most frequent constructions of used to in questions and negative statements?

Used to, one of the marginal auxiliaries of the English language, is a source of trouble, especially for non-native speakers of English. Should it be used as an auxiliary (He used not to, Used he to) or as a lexical verb (He didn't

use/d/ to, Did he use/d/ to)? There is also an alternative American construction: He used to not.

When we looked in some of our corpora, we could first of all note that, overall, constructions with use/d/ to in negative and interrogative forms were rare, particularly in writing. The usage with used to as a lexical verb was predominant in both British and American corpora, as in (1) and (2):

(1) Did you used to go and watch sport with your dad? (spoken British English)

(2) Did her name used to be MaryAnn? (spoken American English)

There were only a few occurrences of the lexical verb form use to, as in (3). However, since most of the tokens were from spoken material, we should be cautious here, since the disctinction between use to and used to is very

difficult to make when transcribing speech from tape recorder. Used to as an auxiliary did not occur at all in the interrogative form (Used X to...?), and the negative delarative used not to, as in (4), was very infrequent in writing and did not occur in our spoken material. However, a few instances of the split infinitive form used to not, as in (5) were found in spoken American English.

(3) Did she use to render the lard down as well? (spoken British English)

(4) It used not to regard slavery as a great evil, but now that seems hard to understand. (written British English)

(5) They used to not be like that. (spoken American English)

Svartvik & Sager point out that, because people feel uncertain of which form to use, they sometimes choose another construction that expresses the same or almost the same meaning, such as Did he smoke regularly? instead of Did he use/d/ to smoke?

ME

4. In a previous issue you discussed the use of out the window/door vs. out of the window/door and concluded that the simple preposition out was very frequent in spoken British English. I have also come across the use of the simple preposition together with a word for an enclosed space, as in out

the room. What do you find in your corpora?

In his book Spatial and temporal uses of English prepositions (1975: 79–80), David Bennett suggests that there is a difference between out of the room and out of the window in that the preposition of is necessary in the first case but not in the second. In the first example, of marks that the meaning is 'to the exterior of the room', whereas in the second example of is just an empty preposition and the meaning is rather 'to the exterior of the room/house etc. via the door'. Apparently, out the room violates English syntax. A quick look in our corpora, however, resulted in a fairly large number of cases where the simple preposition was used in connection with rooms, buildings etc. Virtually all of these examples were from spoken material, as in (1) – (3).

(1) My foot got stuck and this lady walked out the building and she told us all off. (spoken British English)

(2) He's the last one out the classroom every night. (spoken British English)

(3) The thing is, I had it, well I like took it out the bathroom or something (...) (spoken American English)

Interestingly, there were more examples in the British spoken material than in the American. With an opening, such as door or window, the simple preposition out is more frequent in American English. We also found a few instances of out + enclosed space in written American material, as in (4):

(4) He had me there for a full ten minutes talking, and then walked out the chapel yard with me. (American novel)

ME

3. Useful websites

Get acquainted with our "competitor"!

Are you of the opinion that GramTime News appears too seldom to satisfy your unquenchable thirst for knowledge of present-day English usage? Then we advise you to try out another newsletter and its corresponding website. The Majority English Dibul – dibul stands for 'digital bulletin' is a weekly newsletter, where the nonnative speaker of English will find practical language information, mainly concerning the use of words. The dibul provides, among other things, explanations of linguistic terms, information about words that create difficulties for non-native speakers, etymology of interesting words and descriptions of words and phrases that have recently entered the language. Did you, for instance, know the following words and phrases?

·

cronehood – the period in a woman's life after her children have moved out: "I'm going to spend my cronehood spoiling myself and my grandchildren."

·

youthify – to change the content and/or profile of a TV-program, magazine, restaurant, etc. in order to appeal to young people

·

give it up – a youthful way to say applaud: "Let's give it up for the singer, ladies and gentlemen."

·

mouse potato – a person whose main form of physical activity involves moving a computer mouse

We believe that the Majority English Dibul is a good complement to GramTime News, which mainly deals with

English grammar. Its streak of humour and memorable little quotes is also a breath of fresh air to weary students, teachers and researchers. To subscribe, write "I wanna check it out" to the following address: majority.

[email protected]

. To unsubscribe you simply write "No thanks" to the same address. More information about

MED can be found at the following website: http://www.bentarz.se/me/ .

Here you can also read back issues of the Majority English Dibul.

ME

4. Book tip

Partington, Alan. 1998. Patterns and meanings. Using corpora for English language research and teaching. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 162 pp. GBP 8.99.

The kind of methodology we use in the GramTime project, generally going under the name of corpus linguistics, is becoming increasingly popular. Consequently, over the last three years a number of textbooks in the field have been published: McEnery & Wilson 1996; Biber et al. 1998; Kennedy 1998; Aston & Burnard 1998. These all have their strengths and weaknesses and thus complement each other. McEnery & Wilson is the most theoretical and

Biber et al is strong on discourse and register variation, while Aston & Burnard is a very pedagogical manual for one particular corpus, the huge British National Corpus which is mostly used by university institutions. For the serious student of English corpus linguistics, Kennedy is probably the best starting point. However, for those of our readers who would like to get a glimpse of what corpus linguistics is (and how it can be related to teaching and to student projects) without getting into too much of the technical mumbo-jumbo, I suggest trying

Partington's book.

The author has a background in Cobuild dictionary circles and now teaches English and translation in Italy. After an introduction about corpus methodology he describes a number of case studies related to the following areas: collocation and phraseology, collocation and synonymy, true and false friends, connotation and "semantic prosody", syntax, cohesion in texts, metaphor and word-play. As often in corpus linguistics, collocation, i.e. the words that a word often co-occurs with, plays an important role. One of the advantages with the book is that

Partington provides brief sketches of the relevant theoretical background of this and other concepts (e.g. Lakoff &

Johnson for metaphor, Halliday & Hasan for cohesion) and that he always discusses the pedagogical implications.

He often has useful suggestions for how to integrate small corpus investigations in classroom work, and comments interestingly on the implications of his findings for second language teaching. Here there is food for thought even for those who do not share our enthusiasm for corpora!

Finally, Partington writes a very pleasant, sometimes almost colloquial prose, and puts forward his ideas and comments in a balanced, understated way which adds to making the book highly attractive.

References

·

Aston, Guy & Lou Burnard. 1998. The BNC Handbook. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

·

Biber, Douglas, Susan Conrad & Randi Reppen. 1998. Corpus linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press.

·

Kennedy, Graeme. 1998. An introduction to corpus linguistic. London: Longman.

·

McEnery, Tony & Andrew Wilson. 1996. Corpus linguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

HL

5. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus

out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och

amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. Forthcoming (a). Electronic corpora as tools for translation. Gunilla Anderman & Margaret Rogers (eds).

Word, text and translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. Forthcoming (b). Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of syllabic adjectives. Proceedings from ICAME 98, Belfast.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies.

·

–––. In press. Corpora and Dictionaries. The perfect learner’s dictionary. Proceedings from a symposium at

Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter.

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in December 1999.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

**************

00:3, September 2000

Welcome to the tenth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Jan Svartvik, Prof Em, Magnus Levin , MA, Roy Liddle

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

I'm writing this with aching muscles - I'm moving house and have spent the last couple of weeks sorting and driving to the recycling centre car load after car load of left-over adverbials, adjectives and modals. At such times it is good to have helpful friends, like Magnus, who generously offers his advice on furniture!

If that article whetted your appetite(s) for more troublesome plurals you can go on to Maria's pieces about logical plurals, the generic pronoun problem and siblings vs. brothers and sisters. Or with Magnus, cavort with handsome women and beautiful men.

In our continuing effort to make other people do our job, we have invited Roy Liddle, who completed his D paper last term, to explain the difference between the adverbs quick and quickly. Read and enjoy!

On the surfing scene, Maria has found that CNN has a useful website; one wonders if MTV shouldn't come next?

Finally, we would like to mention that there is now a handy alphabetical index of all usage problems we have dealt with in GTN so far at http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/GTN-index.html

.

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. How are uncountable nouns, such as advice and furniture, treated in authentic usage? I have a feeling that constructions of the type a piece of furniture and a word of advice actually are very infrequent.

Nouns like furniture and advice are unproblematic for native speakers of English since these nouns quite simply belong to the group of uncountables. However, foreign learners may have problems with these because the corresponding nouns are countable in their native languages (cf. Swedish en möbel vs. två möbler and German

ein Möbel vs. zwei Möbel).

This question gives us an excellent opportunity to compare what contrastive English/Swedish grammars have to say on the subject with real usage. Svartvik & Sager write in their university grammar that constructions of the type a piece of furniture can be used to denote number, but that it suffices "in general" to use the noun alone.

Ljung & Ohlander are more specific in that they argue that these individuating phrases should be used sparingly.

In fact our corpora reveal that these individuating constructions are, in most cases, very rare.

We begin our survey with the noun furniture, whose usage is exemplified in (1) to (4).

(1) Bring a piece of furniture you wish to restore. (BrE)

(2) Among the most beautifully turned pieces of furniture in the house are the wheelbacked Windsor kitchen chairs, made from yew. (BrE)

(3) Televisions, computers, furniture and cookers are among the items available. (BrE)

(4) We think that our furniture is unique. (BrE)

What learners should be made aware of here is that only 4% of the tokens included piece(s)of. Sentences (3) and

(4) are therefore far more typical of standard usage than (1) and (2).

This tendency is even more clearly seen with advice. The alternative constructions piece(s) of advice and word(s)

of advice each occurred in less than 1% of the tokens. (5) and (6) are therefore exceptional, while (7) is more typical of the usage of native speakers.

(5) A word of advice; look at the small print very carefully. (BrE)

(6) Perhaps the most important piece of advice of all is to trust your own instincts. (BrE)

(7) The advice is search your attic, he says. (BrE)

Piece of evidence is also a construction exemplified in Svartvik & Sager' s grammar, although this construction is used in less than 1% of the tokens of evidence. (8) is thus a far more likely construction than (9).

(8) The only evidence for his existence was a phone-call from Nicola and his name scribbled in a book. (BrE)

(9) There are several pieces of evidence that suggest that daily rhythms develop spontaneously even in the absence of environmental cues. (BrE)

The two alternative constructions with information, bit(s) of and piece(s) of, are also rare. These occur less than once in every one hundred tokens of information. Anyone reading English texts would therefore be much more likely to come across the construction in (10) than those in (11) or (12).

(10) This information will enable you to connect lines which flow freely and melodically between all chord changes. (BrE)

(11) Their newspapers provided odd bits of information, such as plutonium-poisoning maps that frightened readers rather than reassuring them because they did not know how to interpret them. (BrE)

(12) I offer this merely as a piece of information. (BrE)

With the last item in this overview, news, Svartvik & Sager provide three alternative constructions to using the noun alone - a piece of news, item of news and news item - which may give the impression that (13) is about as common as (14) - (16).

(13) The news reached Napoleon III just before he left the Tuileries (…) (BrE)

(14) I've a piece of news that will surprise you both very much. (BrE)

(15) That item of news is of great interest to me. (BrE)

(16) The news item was on the front page: (BrE)

However, none of the constructions in (14) to (16) are at all frequent. They occur in somewhere between one in every hundred and one in every thousand tokens of news. Although the individuating constructions are rare, they are useful when language users want to stress the number of items in question. Examples of this are provided below.

(17) Apart from the bed, the only other piece of furniture in the room was a chaise longue upholstered in redtinged chintz. (BrE)

(18) Exercise your mind by reading widely and reflecting on life. Cultivate the affairs of the heart and of the soul.

Be open to God in all of your existence, as the highest good in all of life. All these pieces of advice contain a certain amount of wisdom. (BrE)

(19) Only the last of these pieces of information is accurate. (BrE)

(20) Before then the office came alive with two pieces of news: Sniffy Wilson had been captured and Marilyn

Duxbody had been charged under the Obscene Publications Act. (BrE)

However, even in cases similar to those in (17) - (20) it is often possible to use the noun alone. Compare (21) with (17) above.

(21) The only other furniture was an old chest under the squat window. (BrE)

All four noun types are sometimes used with some, as in (17) - (20) below.

(22) I saw crates piled high, and some furniture with dust-covers on. (BrE)

(23) Ring round the experts and take some advice today. (BrE)

(24) This book would not be complete without providing you with some information on the subject. (BrE)

(25) There was some evidence for it. (BrE)

These constructions are also rare. The most common type, some evidence, occurs twice in every one hundred tokens, while the others are even more uncommon.

In sum, this small study teaches us three things: to be careful not to overuse the individuating constructions with these uncountable nouns, to be wary of the claims made in grammars and, finally, to listen to the advice that we can derive from the information that corpora give us.

ML

2. I learnt about logical plurals at school: My children have good appetites etc. Do native speakers always use this, or would it be possible to say as we do in Swedish: My children have good appetite?

Constructions of this type are sometimes referred to as "logical plurals" (cf. Gleerups engelska grammatik by

Ohlander/Ljung). Other examples of logical plurals are They shook their heads, We shook hands and Will I have

to change buses? Such constructions are problematic for many Swedish learners of English, since the corresponding Swedish constructions often take singular objects: Mina barn har god aptit, De skadade på

huvudet, Vi skakade hand, Måste jag byta buss? etc. But how consistent are native speakers really? Will we find any instances of singular constructions in our corpora?

I divided the so-called logical plurals into three groups:

(a) Group 1: more or less set phrases: change buses/hands/jobs/lanes/places/planes/seats/tickets/trains, hold/

shake hands

(b) Group 2: constructions including body parts: backs, bellies, bosoms, chests, faces, heads, jaws, laps,

mouths, necks, noses, stomachs, tongues and throats

(c) Group 3: constructions including abstract phenomena related to the human body and mind: appetites,

breaths, memories, minds and voices

The corpora consulted suggest that the expressions in the first group indeed are fixed. There were no instances whatsoever of hold/shake hand, and very few examples of singular forms with the verb change, all of them occurring in spoken material as in (1).

(1) (...) so if you wanted to come from the State of Mexico into into Mexico City you had to change bus at the boundary. (spoken British English)

It is worth noting that the clearly most freuqent noun occurring after change was hands, as in (2), a collocation that is seldom mentioned in (at least Swedish) grammars:

(2) It is ironic that at a time when the shares of motor traders are dropping like stones, the price at which dealerships change hands has remained steady. (written British English)

As for the other two groups, I looked at constructions like their nose(s) and their appetites(s). I also tried searching for constructions like (PLURAL NOUN or PRONOUN) + have X nose(s) and (PLURAL NOUN or PRONOUN)

+ with X nose(s), but these searches would take a close study of the surrounding text to identify the relevant examples (which there was not time for). Furthermore, tokens of this type seem to be fairly rare (compared to those with their). Cases of body parts where each human being has two items (e.g. eyes, ears and breasts) were of course not included, since a singular form would be an unlikely alternative. Furthermore, instances referring to the word memory/memories as something other than the mental capacity for remembering things were excluded.

In these two groups, we find much more variation between singular and plural forms than with constructions like

change places and shake hands. With body parts (group 2) there were quite a few instances of nouns in the singular in the written material (although plural forms were about 10 times more frequent). In the spoken material, singular forms were just as common as plural forms. No regional variation could be observed.

The following corpus extracts exemplify the use of singular and plural noun forms, (3) and (4) regarding body parts and (5) and (6) regarding abstract phenomena:

(3) If the word you say rhymes with head, they should point to their head. (written American)

(4) Coolie women heaved baskets from their heads and cast gravel before it. (written British)

(5) It might be possible to persuade them to change their mind in favour of another punishment, even if your youngster has broken the rules. (written British)

(6) But I doubt either will change their minds. (written American)

It turns out, however, that in a majority of the cases of singular form of the noun (especially in the written material), the singular form is used because the noun it "belongs to" is an indefinite singular noun or pronoun (a

doctor, someone, nobody etc.), exemplified in (7) and (8):

(7) She could not understand why a doctor – with as much money as they made charging five dollars a day to just stick their head in the hospital door and look at you – couldn't afford a decent-sized waiting room. (written

American)

(8) The post-coital cigarette is not as popular as it once was and the idea of making love to someone who has a fag in their mouth must be one of life's great turn-offs. (written British material)

See more about how to refer back to such indefinite antecedents in question 5!

Finally, we can conclude that singular forms for our expected "logical plurals" are fairly frequent in speech, but that most of the cases found in writing can be explained by their being used to refer back to singular "owners". It thus seems that we can advise our students to avoid the use of singular forms in other cases in their writing.

ME

3. It seems that with some adverbs both the -ly form and the suffix-less form are used together with some verbs. Is this okay?

Magnus answered a similar question to this one in issue 98:3, and showed what a complex area dual-form adverbs are. There is, indeed, one hard and fast rule that governs all dual-form adverbs, and that is that the zero

(suffix-less) forms must come after the main verb and the object, if there is one. So you cannot slow walk, but you can walk slow; you cannot drive quick your car, but you can drive your car quick. I have looked pretty closely at quick and slow and there do seem to be 'rules' governing their use, such as that they rarely occur before a preposition of direction. They also tend not to be used adjacent to nouns. So in spoken AmE, where the zero forms are most frequent, they are most often used at the end of simple clauses and there is very often a modifier before the adverb, as in (1):

(1) I ran out of there pretty quick.

The colloquial language also prefers to use the comparative forms quicker and slower rather that more quickly and more slowly.

Now, all this is very confusing, especially since these restrictions do not appear to apply to other adverbs, but it seems there may be an all-encompassing rule that explains why some zero-form adverbs have restrictions. In the case of quick and slow, they tend to occur in positions where they cannot be mistaken for adjectives (this is probably the reason all zero forms must come after the main verb). For reasons too complex to go into here this rule also seems to be responsible for the other limitations I mentioned above.

For other adverbs too, it may be important that they are not mistaken for adjectives, or that an adverb of manner is not mistaken for one of place. If we look at deep and deeply, for instance, a general rule would seem to be that if you can measure the depth in feet and inches then you use the adverb of place deep; if it relates to emotions and cognition you use deeply. So you normally dig, cut and penetrate deep (usually followed by into

…); and you care, feel, regret and think deeply.

(2) …the scientists are drilling deep into the frozen earth…

(3) …Marlette still cared deeply about her.

Interestingly, although we usually find bite deep, the two exceptions I have found refer to the recession biting

deeply, which would, of course, be immeasurable as in (4).

(4) With the recession biting deeply, most of these have reduced…

Where there is significant variation with the same verb, i.e. people tend to use either form, we can see that there is depth that can be neither felt nor measured, and there seems to be no risk of confusion. We find breathe deep/

deeply, look deep/deeply (into someone's eyes, for example) and draw deep/deeply (on a cigarette).

When it comes to cheap/cheaply there is a risk of mistaking the zero form for the adjective, but, again, it appears that with those verbs where there is free variation it does not matter. So we can buy and sell things either cheap or cheaply, and things can come cheap and they can come cheaply. After all, what does it matter whether we have bought something cheaply or whether it was cheap when we bought it? It boils down to the same thing. But where the meaning would change depending on which form is used then it is important to get it right.

More cheaply in (5) refers to the manufacturing method. Had cheaper been used it might have meant that the product was of poor quality.

(5) With this new machinery goods can be made more cheaply.

Direct and directly are another interesting pair. One of the meanings of directly given in any dictionary is

'immediately', but this meaning is now old-fashioned and restricted to British English. As a consequence it no longer has that meaning for Americans and most Britons. So we can now fly either direct or directly to New York.

We can also buy things either direct or directly from the manufacturers.

These observations probably will not make things much easier for students of English, especially since there are numerous exceptions to any "rule" we can try to come up with. But it is worth bearing in mind that where the two forms do not have different meanings it is still considered more correct to use the -ly form, and the zero form is usually more common in the spoken language. Dual-form adverbs are, as Magnus said, very complicated, and they do not become any less so when we look closely at them. Getting them right probably requires a good ear for the language and a lot of time spent listening to native speakers.

RL

4. My teacher told me never to use the adjective handsome about women and never to use beautiful about men. Is English usage really this strict?

The idea that there is no variation in this area is probably wide-spread among English teachers. The variation in usage has been acknowledged by major reference works, however. For instance, The Longman Dictionary of

Contemporary English has the following to say about the adjectives beautiful, pretty, handsome and good-

looking: "beautiful and pretty can be used of women, children and things, but not usually of men, unless you want to suggest that they have female features (…) Beautiful (…) suggests that someone has almost perfect looks. Pretty means good-looking in a more ordinary way, but not really beautiful. Handsome is not common in spoken English. It is usually used to describe men, especially if they have strong regular features that men in romantic stories [sic!] are supposed to have. A handsome woman is good-looking in a strong, healthy way. Good-

looking can be used about men and women, but not usually about things."

Now let's have a look at what our corpora have to say on the subject. Both handsome men and handsome women were found in the corpora, although the men were clearly the most common. In 100 million words the following number of tokens were found:

handsome man/men 98

handsome woman/ women

18

In (1) and (2) two typical instances can be seen.

(1) Men, especially handsome men, were not to be trusted! (BrE)

(2) He saw a tall, handsome woman dressed with careful and expensive informality in a black cashmere sweater with a silk scarf at the throat and fawn trousers. (BrE)

Interestingly, many of the tokens of handsome woman also include references to the height of these women.

They tend to be tall, as exemplified in (2). However, the use of handsome woman does not appear to be entirely uncontroversial, if we are to judge from (3).

(3) She was - is - what people call a handsome woman, a phrase which has always struck me as a bit patronising. (What does it mean? It means something like: surprisingly fanciable if it was socially OK to fancy women of that age...) (BrE)

In contrast to usage with handsome, women very strongly predominate in connection with beautiful, as seen below:

beautiful man/men 14 beautiful woman/women 213

Here are two examples:

(4) Ludovico was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. (BrE)

(5) Some of the world's most beautiful women have also cut more birthday cakes than Clinton. (BrE)

Regarding the purported existence of "female features" in beautiful men, see (6):

(6) (…) a Roman epic about the Emperor Hadrian and his love affair with the most beautiful man in the world,

Antinous. (BrE)

Pretty may also be used to refer to men and women, although men are very rarely pretty, as seen below.

pretty man/men 2 pretty woman/women 34

Pretty woman is about six times less frequent than beautiful woman in the corpus. References to Julia Roberts were not included in the statistics. (7) is an example of pretty.

(7) His head would never again be turned by a pretty woman. (BrE)

Girls are prettier than women, who in turn are more beautiful. Some girls are even handsome. Boys are more likely to be pretty than to be beautiful or handsome. Here are the statistics for boys and girls who are pretty, beautiful and handsome:

pretty boy(s)

23 pretty girl(s) 136

beautiful boy(s) 12 beautiful girl(s)

97

handsome boy(s) 12

handsome girl

(s)

6

Since this investigation is mainly concerned with men and women, we only give one example of girl in (8). This is because handsome girl is perhaps the most surprising of the combinations with boys and girls. Note that this handsome girl is tall, just as handsome women tend to be.

(8) That is perhaps why I didn't hear the name of a tall, dark-haired handsome girl whom I hadn't met before.

(BrE)

Good-looking appears to be the most gender-neutral adjective, as seen from these figures:

good-looking man/ men

35 good-looking woman/women 46

good-looking boy(s)

14 good-looking girl(s) 10

Here are two examples of this. Note the use of handsome in (10).

(9) Laidler was a tall, very good-looking man, quiet and observant, who remained cheerful in spite of his illness.

(BrE)

(10) She had clearly been a very good-looking woman when younger, and even now was handsome;(...) (BrE)

Good-looking is only used marginally with objects. (11) and (12) are from the handful of examples found in our corpus.

(11) Wednesday approached a difficult job well and scored two good-looking goals, but the truth is the tie was really lost in Kaiserslautern, (…) (BrE)

(12) A good-looking, pre-war pen cost less than a third of its modern cousin, and wrote just as well. (BrE)

Judging from the frequencies of these adjectives, one may be lead to believe that women in general look better than men. However, it rather seems that the looks of women are judged to be more important than the looks of men in our society, because women also predominate after the adjective ugly, but that's another story.

ML

5. How should one refer back to an indefinite pronoun or noun phrase denoting a person, as in You

could ask someone/a friend what would do?

This is a tricky issue (sometimes referred to as "the generic pronoun problem") and quite a lot has been said and written about it in the last few years. A common way of referring to someone whose sex is unknown or unimportant has been to use a male pronoun (he), and this usage even used to be prescribed as the only correct one in certain formal contexts not that long ago. These days, however, many people consider the use of he not to be politically correct, fossilizing old stereotyped roles of men and women. Some people have claimed that, since

he has been used for such a long time, it should now be replaced by she! Furthermore, many more or less serious attempts have been made over the years to create a new, gender-neutral third-person pronoun, such as nim, ips,

thir, po and xe. None of these very creative suggestions have, however, obtained general approval. What then should we use?

In a lecture at our university some months ago, Dr Anne Curzan from the University of Washington, Seattle, who has carried out research on the topic, gave the audience the following possibilites. Sometimes you can use a plural noun instead of an indefinite singular one in the first place, especially to replace noun phrases introduced by each (students in stead of each student). In some other cases it is possible to rephrase the sentence, using a relative clause instead (a student who or a student whose... instead of a student --- he or a student --- his). It is also possible to say or write he or she (his or her), he/she (his/her) or s/he, but such constructions often feel clumsy, especially in speech. Dr Curzan suggested another alternative, viz. to use a plural pronoun (they or

their), as in (1), but she also recognized that this usage is not accepted by all grammar books yet. It has, however, been used alongside other alternatives for a very long time, and it is certainly the most frequent construction in speech according to our lecturer.

(1) You could ask someone/a friend what they would do.

Some people in the audience were somewhat surprised to hear Anne Curzan claim that a plural pronoun is also sometimes used when the antecedent's sex is indeed known to the speaker/writer, but they (!) do not want to reveal it, as in (2), but after being alerted to this fact in the lecture I have heard and seen it used in exactly that way several times.

(2) The caller said they would ring back. (example taken from Michael Barlow in A situated theory of agreement,

1992:297)

At a conference at Gävle university college on Mid-Atlantic English a few weeks ago, Magnus, Hans and I heard Dr

Angela Karstadt report on an investigation into some students' acceptance of certain linguistic phenomena.

Interestingly, her respondents turned out to show greater acceptance for a sentence using she as a generic pronoun than a sentence where they was used!

Now it is high time we looked for some information in our corpora. First, I tried to get some statistics on the issue, but this proved a very difficult a task, especially with those generic pronouns having noun phrase antecedents. When you create a search string such as "article (a, an, the) + singular noun + some intermediate words + personal/possessive pronoun (e.g. he, her, they)", you get thousands of tokens, most of which are not relevant at all.

I did, however, carry out a small impressionistic survey on the idefinite pronouns (someone/somebody, everyone/

everybody etc.) in some newspapers and spoken corpora, and could conclude that plural nouns (they, them or

their), as in (3) (5) are far more frequent than the "old and sexist" he, him or his, as in (6). In the spoken corpora, the plural forms were extremely frequent. Also, more clumsy constructions like he or she, as in (7) were quite infrequent. When the antecedent is everyone/everybody, as in (5), one could argue that a plural pronoun is the most natural choice, since everyone/everybody in function (although not in grammatical form) refers to more than one person (cf. Swedish alla and the problem Swedish learners of English tend to have with remembering that everyone and everybody are singular pronouns, taking singular verb forms!).

(3) If you wish to insult someone, invade their space, lean over them and touch their possessions in a proprietary way. (written British)

(4) Nobody admitted they'd seen him. There wasn't any reason for them to admit it. (written American)

(5) Princess Anne soon put everybody at their ease. (written British)

(6) This would happen if someone stopped playing his role, stopped denying the underlying painful feelings and problems ... (written American)

(7) Prejudice is not disliking someone you meet because you find his or her behavior objectionable. It is disliking an entire racial or ethnic group, even if you have had little or no contact. (written American)

The results of my small-scale study (that plural forms are in the majority) seem to be reliable since they correspond both to Dr Curzan's claims and to the results of another corpus-based study made by one of our students (Elisabeth Gustavsson: Unspecified indefinite pronouns and their referents, 1999). As Gustavsson concludes: "It seems therefore that feminists have succeeded in their effort to influence people to use they-forms instead of 'generic he'".

It is interesting to note that, although many people avoid using a male pronoun, those who opt for the combination of a male and a female one (he or she, his or her), virtually always put the male pronoun first, whereas constructions such as she or he are extremely rare. For instance, when I searched for such combinations in two of my corpora I found almost 1000 he or she, him or her and his or her compared to 30 she or he, her or

him and her or his. It seems that some stereotypes are still difficult to get rid of!

Gustavsson also investigated whether usage differs between different contexts and found that this seems to be the case. She found, for instance, that he-forms were quite frequent in connection with business and politics, and she observes that this might be a case of a cultural bias, since politicians and business people are more often male than female.

As to the generic pronoun problem regarding reference to nouns with the indefinite article (e.g. a person), suffice it to say that these constructions certainly exist, even though we cannot say how frequent they are. Here is one examples from the corpora:

(8) That's also helping a person understand their own needs... (spoken British)

I did not find any clear instances of a noun with the definite article referring to someone whose identity the speaker or writer knows but does not want to reveal. There were, however, quite a few examples such as (9):

(9) The fact that the driver has to be phoned in itself ensure (sic) that they are the person in question and that

they can easily be traced. If the driver wishes, they can ask for the passenger's number so they can call back to check it. (written British English)

This example is interesting in that, although the antecedent (the driver) is defininite from a formal grammatical point of view, it is indefinite from a functional point of view, resulting in the use of they as a generic pronoun. The noun phrase does not refer to a particular driver, but the scenario of car-driving is so familiar to people (they know that a car generally contains a driver!) that it is possible to use a definite article anyway (cf. Brown & Yule:

Discourse Analysis, 1983).

Finally, plural pronouns frequently refer back to antecedents that are collective nouns (like team, government and family), as in (10). If you are interested in this area, I suggest you consult one of the articles written by

Magnus, our expert on collectives (see the publication list below).

(10) At the ceasefire negotiations, the FMLN had agreed to disband the armed wing of their organization if the

government agreed to cut their own armed forces by half. (written British)

ME

6. At school my teacher told me that I should avoid using the word siblings to refer to brothers and

sisters, since it was restricted to scientific (especially medical) usage. Nowadays I often hear and see

siblings used, both by my students and by native speakers. Has this word become everyone's possession lately?

Some dictionaries I consulted all note that sibling belongs to formal language (Longman Dictionary of

Contemporary English, Cambridge International Dictionary of English, Norsteds stora svensk-engelska ordbok)

and formal or technical language (Collins Cobuild Dictionary of the English language). Sidney Greenbaum writes

(in Good English and the grammarian, 1988:98) referring to Lyons (1968), that "brother and sister can be replaced with male sibling and female sibling only in anthropological or quasi-anthropological context, and that most English speakers probably do not know the word sibling".

If we look at our corpora, we can see that the singular form sibling is fairly infrequent and mainly occurs in scientific or pseudo-scientific contexts, as in (1) or as a premodifier in certain expressions, particularly in the collocation sibling rivalry, as exemplified in (2):

(1) If we transfer our envy from mother to sibling before we have worked through to a place where we wish to make amends then, developmentally, we may become stuck. (written British)

(2) Roland suffered from sibling rivalry and tended to lash out at his little sister ... (written British)

The singular form is also used in various transferred senses, especially about businesses, as in (3)

(3) Even ventures as stable and successful as The Miami Herald's Spanish-language sibling, El Nuevo Herald, have had their staffs trimmed as part of broad campaigns to cut costs. (written American)

The plural form siblings, however, was as frequent as (and in some corpora more frequent than) brothers and

sisters in the written material, but it is true that many of these cases occurred in more or less formal contexts, e.

g. in newspaper and scientific articles (not necessarily medical, psychological or technical ones, though).

Examples (4) (6) are representative:

(4) After interviewing the mother, the child and her siblings, a caseworker found no credible evidence of abuse or neglect and closed the case. (The New York Times, 1995)

(5) Only the alpha female breeds and it seems that the monogamous reproductive male suppresses sexual interactions between siblings. (written British)

(6) In postwar Britain, the clothes, accents, and diction of the siblings may have changed, but, sofar as I can judge, the suffocating insular coziness is just the same. (written British)

It seems that the word siblings is more frequent in American English than in British English, at least in writing.

In the spoken material brothers and sisters was about three times more frequent than siblings (in both American and British English), again reflecting the fact that sibling is considered a more formal word. On the other hand, even though many of the instances occurred in more or less formal or scientific contexts, there were also some examples from, for instance, natural conversation, as in (7) and (8):

(7) Do you have, how many, do you have siblings? (spoken American)

(8) But I don't think it's fair to my other siblings. (spoken British)

We could also spot a slight increase in the use of siblings in The Independent from 1990 (44%, compared to

brothers and sisters) via 1995 (50%) to 2000 (58%). It seems that we can conclude that, yes, siblings is today everyone's possession (and might be gaining ground), even though many people still consider it a bit formal.

ME

3. Useful websites

Learn English and learn about the world at the same time!

The website on the agenda today is supplied by the American news company CNN. Its Learning Resources site provides news stories on a wide variety of topics, both in a more comprehensive format and in an abridged and simplified one. There is also a brief outline of each story. Besides the "Story of the Week", you will find archives of articles about Adventure, Business & Economy, Crime, Culture & Society, Disasters, Education, Environment,

Health, Politics, Religion and Science & Technology all in both complete and abridged versions. Most of the stories also come with audio and video recordings.

For the "Story of the Week", there are special learner activities, such as vocabulary exercises and questions on

the content. The website also provides questions about the learner's view of the current topic, the answers to which can be submitted to CNN (and are then posted at the website). Such questions can of course also be used for class discussions.

You will find the CNN Learning Resources website at: http://literacynet.org/cnnsf/

Enjoy!

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. In press. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. Forthcoming. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In

Korpusar i forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities.

·

––– . Forthcoming. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English.

Marco Modiano (ed.). Gävle: Gävle University Press.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in

English. Moderna Språk.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: Gävle

University Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. Mid-Atlantic in the context of language change, language birth and language death. In Studies in Mid-

Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: Gävle University Press.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. In press. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies.

·

–––. In press. Corpora and Dictionaries. The perfect learner’s dictionary. Proceedings from a symposium at

Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter.

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in December 2000.

Institutionen för humaniora

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1. Is the noun "advice" ever used as a countable noun?

In an episode of the TV series Prison Break, one of our subscribers heard a character saying I will give you a

friendly advice and wondered if this usage is common. Consulting a British friend, he got the answer that this is "(a) very American, (b) extremely informal/slang and (c) probably an incipient change."

The use of countable forms of otherwise uncountable nouns is a phenomenon that we have already brought up in several previous issues of GramTime News. There are of course words can belong to both categories, often with slightly different meanings. For instance, time is uncountable in (1) but countable in (2):

(1) Time is on our side in building up forces in the area. (spoken American English)

(2) Oh oh how many times have you been back since you've retired? (spoken British English)

We have also, however, observed the marginal use of plural forms of knowledge (

GTN 04:3

), evidence (

GTN 03:3

) and research ( GTN 08:3 ). So, is advice another example of uncountable nouns that are sometimes countable?

We investigated our two most comprehensive sources on British and American English: the British National

Corpus (BNC) and the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). First we searched for the simple combination of the indefinite article and advice and found no occurrences in the BNC, but five in COCA. Here are two of them:

(3) In case the arbitration committee would come out with an advice which says such or such republic has applied

[...]

(4) Have you got an advice for unimaginative shoppers?

Four of the five examples come from spoken sources. The fifth example is interesting, since it occurs in an academic article, and academic language tends to be formal and conservative compared to other genres:

(5) On the other hand those elderly who visit their physician very often for screening purposes or for drug

prescription were more likely to ask for an advice regarding flu shot and to get the flu vaccine.

Examining the source in more detail, however, we find that the author may be a non-native speaker (indicated by a

Greek name), which could be the explanation of the use as a count noun, since many nouns that are uncountable in

English are countable in Greek.

The use of an advice is thus an infrequent phenomenon, especially compared to the most common structure some

advice (used 581 times in COCA). Note that individuating structures such as a piece of advice and a word of

advice, often pointed out as alternatives in grammar books, are quite rare compared to some advice: 56 a piece of

advice and 45 a word of advice occur in the American corpus (see further

GTN 00:3

).

We further made queries for the structure a + ADJECTIVE + advice. (trying out a number different adjectives based on a list from a corpus query where the indefinite article was not used). The BNC provided no examples of this structure either, whereas the American corpus yielded four instances of a good advice, as in (5), two examples of a great advice, as in (6), and one example of a sound advice, as in (7):

(5) But it's a good advice if you didn't have this kind of issue. (spoken American English)

(6) That was a great advice. And you followed it. (spoken American English)

(7) Maybe I'll run into her at the Kroger's and if she's divorced-oh, forget it, I told myself in my thoughts and gave myself a sound advice, Don't be an ass. (American fiction)

All the examples come either from spoken sources or fiction, so the suggestion mentioned above that a/an

(+adjective) advice is mainly used in informal American English can be confirmed by the corpus investigation.

Finally we searched for the plural form advices in both corpora. Interestingly, we find more examples of this form

(20), in fact five of them in the BNC:

(8) Since you may not be capable capable, qualified or experienced enough to deal with certain matters, even partners, family matters or legal advices to act on your behalf [...] (spoken British English)

(9) I think chess offers us many advices in different areas, and chess helps us to understand the mechanism of decision making [...] (spoken American English)

Again we find some examples from academic texts, and at least a few of these seem to be written by native speakers, such as the article from which (10) was taken:

(10) In addition, information contained in the purchase order need not be re-keyed into the computer in order to produce invoices, shipping documents, payment advices, and so forth.

Here, however, the noun refers to specific documents, which explains the countable form of the noun.

In summary, the answer to the usage question seems to be that, yes, advice is sometimes used as a countable noun, but this structures is far less common than the one where it is used as an uncountable noun. We can thus give (a/ some) good advice to our students: stick to the rule in this case and treat advice as an uncountable noun.

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MEV

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

02:2, June 2002

Welcome to the sixteenth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Roy Liddle, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

No doubt you are waiting eagerly to read our insightful analyses of World Cup events in the Far East. But we have fastidiously kept our eyes on our computer screens instead, for your benefit..

Magnus has managed to get fairly confused over when "next Tuesday" actually is, but he now seems to be well aware of the ambiguities. He also explains the meaning and use of B.C. and A.D. once and for all. Maria has let her self be engrossed by the good old subjunctive in sentences like "If I were you", which might very well be uttered by certain kinds of mothers-in-law, or should it be mother-in-laws? And of course there is a section on prepositional usage. How is it the song goes: knocking on/at Heaven's door?

If you are a school teacher and just started planning your classes in August you will find inspiring activities for beginners on Boggle's World, today's website tip.

And now let's concentrate on Maypoles rather than goal posts for at least one day. Merry Midsummer!

Hans Lindquist, editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Which is the most natural way of translating Swedish 'preposition + att' into English?

This is an interesting question which all English teachers in Sweden have to struggle with, but which requires some explanation for our foreign readers. In Swedish we can readily place a preposition before att (to or that), as in Hon är intresserad av att segla ('She is interested in to sail'), or in Vi är medvetna om att detta är svårt ('We are aware about that this is difficult'). In English this is not the case, and there are a few ways in which that language avoids this: (a) preposition + -ing form as in (1) (cf. GTN 2002:1 which discussed differences in formality between the constructions We talked about his/him moving to London), (b) leaving out the preposition as in (2), and (c) inserting a noun phrase as in (3):

(1) She is interested in sailing.

(2) We are aware that this is difficult.

(3) We are aware of the fact that this is difficult.

Of course, the choices depend on whether a verb or an adjective is used, but these are the alternatives proposed by, for instance, Svartvik & Sager. However, there are no comments on the frequencies of the alternatives in their book or on the stylistic differences between these.

It should be observed that there are some exceptions in English which allow a preposition + that, namely save

that, except that and in that, as in (4):

(4) They get the names of children who have died of cancer and then they get the names of other children who are as much like that other group as possible except that they're healthy. (spoken AmE)

This area is of course quite time-consuming to investigate, so we will have to limit ourselves to only a few spot checks. The results are divided into two main groups: (1) verb + preposition (talk about) where the preposition cannot be left out, and (2) adjectives (aware of, afraid of), where the preposition can be left out.

To begin with, we looked at the phrase talk/talks/talking/talked about in order to see which complementation was the most frequent with this verb phrase. Only two alternatives are possible – either preposition + -ing form (talk

about leaving) or (talk about the fact that X is leaving) – but it can be discussed if these alternatives really are equivalent, since the fact is only used with states of affairs that are considered as facts, and, for example, not things which are about to happen. The proportions should therefore be studied with particular care. However, learners are confronted with the choice between these alternatives and therefore this comparison can provide some guidance.

With verbs + prepositions, the -ing form of the verb clearly predominates. For instance, in the UKspoken and

UKbooks sub-corpora of CobuildDirect the -ing form was around 40 times more common than talk about the fact

that. Furthermore, in the AmE sub-corpora, NPR and USbooks, the -ing form was about 25 times more frequent than the fact. It therefore seems most natural to choose the -ing form after talk about. Here are a couple of examples of the two alternatives.

(5) He talked about getting married, even talked about setting a date. (written AmE)

(6) Phil Jackson, now the coach of the Chicago Bulls, talks about the fact that you just see more of basketball players than other athletes. (spoken AmE)

It should be observed that the the fact that-alternative could hardly be used in (5), since it does not concern a fact, but rather something which turned out not to be a fact. This feature further emphasizes the predominance of the use of the -ing form.

We now turn to adjectives, such as aware (of), which produce completely different patterns than verbs + prepositions. With adjectives the most frequent alternative is to leave out the preposition. This occurred in at least 75% of the instances in all corpora, as is exemplified in (7). It should be observed that that is optional in these cases, as exemplified in (8), and that this makes the predominance of this alternative over the one with preposition + -ing even greater.

(7) He has to be aware that he's being taped. (spoken AmE)

(8) None of his colleagues were aware he was the man to whom Diana confided her most intimate secrets and problems. (written BrE)

The second most frequent alternative was to keep the preposition of and to use the -ing form, as demonstrated in

(9) and (10). This occurred in between 5% and 20% of the tokens. It was less frequent in speech than in writing.

(9) She opened her eyes and was aware of being in her mother's bed, where she had not been for over ten years.

(written BrE)

(10) My batman, who is a positive Jeeves, is with me and, truly, I am far less aware of being at war than I was in

England. (written BrE)

Finally, the third alternative, to insert the noun phrase the fact, showed clear differences between speech and writing. It was exceptional in writing but quite frequent in speech. This indicates that there is a stylistic difference between the alternatives. For example, aware that was between 40 and 60 times more frequent than aware of

the fact that in our written corpora, while it was only four times more common in spoken BrE. Thus, (11) below is more typical of speech than of writing. This is also reflected in The New York Times 1995 in which there were only four instances of aware of the fact that, all of which occurred in quotations from speech (e.g. (12) below). In contrast, aware that occurred 490 times, which means that this alternative was more than 120 times (!) more frequent in this corpus which consists mainly of formal written AmE. In spoken AmE from LSAC, there were six

aware of the fact and 19 aware that (which means that it was only three times more frequent).

(11) I mean like I'm painfully aware of the fact that I'm a boy (…) (spoken AmE)

(12) Not long after the invasion of Kuwait, he recalls, he privately told Mr. Bush, 'I know you're aware of the fact

that this has all the ingredients that brought down three of the last five Presidents: a hostage crisis, body bags and a full-fledged economic recession caused by $40 oil.' (NYT)

Other adjectives show different patterns. Afraid that was as frequent as afraid of + -ing in writing, while it was twice as common in speech. The alternatives are given below. (Note that it would be odd to say afraid of the fact

that ….)

(13) I am afraid that I might fall ill, or have difficulty in carrying it out. (written BrE)

(14) Are you afraid of going mad? (written BrE)

Finally, we will take a brief look at the nouns that Svartvik & Sager propose as substitutes for fact, namely

possibility and news. These can come in handy if the state of affairs described is not a fact, but rather, well, a possibility or news. Nevertheless, these alternatives were almost non-existent in our material. For instance, in

NYT 1995 there were only two instances of aware of the possibility that, and there was only one of each in the spoken BrE corpus from the BNC and in the corpus of scientific written BrE. And not a single instance of aware of

the news that was found in these corpora (containing more than 60 million words). (15) below is therefore something of a rarity:

(15) Back in 1947, when private owners deeded the marina to the state, they were aware of the possibility that politicians and developers might try to exploit the property. (NYT)

Although this comparison has merely scratched the surface of this complex area (for instance we have not looked in depth at what factors affect the choices between the alternatives), there are some useful conclusions. The most important finding is that the fact that is a rare alternative which is almost only found in speech and not in formal writing. (The other alternatives for nouns given by Svartvik & Sager are hardly ever found.) Most constructions therefore either involve a preposition + an -ing form or that that is left out. These alternatives vary greatly between different constructions (e.g. talk about requires a preposition while aware (of) does not) but it would rarely seem to be awkward to use these. We therefore primarily recommend these two possibilities.

ML

2. Should I say next time or the next time, next day or the next day?

There seems to be some variation here. Svartvik & Sager suggest that no article is used before next + a noun of time, meaning 'this coming' (next Thursday, week, month, year). This is probably true, and these cases where there is no variation complicate matters since they make it difficult to distinguish these from the variable cases in the statistics. We will therefore not be able to present any reliable figures in the matter.

The authors indicate that there is some variation in the sense 'the following' ([The] next morning she woke up

early), and that there seems to be more variation with time ([The] next time you see her, tell her I'm really

sorry).

(1) – (6) present some examples.

(1) And it was there and it was left all night, and next day erm the man came back again and he cut it down the back with a big saw (…) (spoken BrE)

(2) You can come back the next day, it doesn't matter. (spoken BrE)

(3) Next morning, end-of-the-weekend frenzy came over me. (NYT 95)

(4) She left the next morning with a vow: 'I am going. But I will return.' (NYT 95)

(5) Next time is too late. (NYT 95)

(6) I'll get better the next time. (NYT 95)

We looked in four corpora – The New York Times 1995, The Longman Spoken American Corpus, BrE speech from the BNC and scientific BrE writing from the BNC. One of the findings was that phrases such as next day and next

morning without the article were particularly rare in AmE, only reaching a couple of percent in comparison with

the next day and the next morning. In the BrE corpora the differences between the alternatives are much less marked with the article-less form accounting for around one quarter of the examples. As noted above, all these proportions are rough estimates since they include many cases where there is no variation, but they nevertheless indicate that there are some differences between the varieties.

We also looked at the phrase (the) next chapter. There was even less variation with this phrase. As a rule, the article is always used, as can be seen in (7). The only context where the article was not used was found in the parenthetical (see next chapter), as in (8).

(7) Helium 3 may be the next chapter in the saga of great American discoveries that other nations capitalize on.

(NYT 95)

(8) We decided that all children must be able to speak and write Standard English, when appropriate (see next

chapter). (written BrE)

(8) is particularly interesting, since it deals with "Standard English", but nevertheless contains the highly unusual phrase without the article. The article can also be found in this context, as seen in (9):

(9) Consequently while his secular music (see the next chapter) was set to German words his church music consists mainly of Latin motets and Masses. (written BrE)

There is another difficulty of next which is important. The Macquarie Dictionary explains it in the following way:

"There is an ambiguity which has arisen in the use of next with days of the week. Some use next to mean the first subsequent occurrence of the specified day, as in we had a meeting last Friday and we will have one next

Friday. But others use next to mean the specified day occurring in the next week, as in today is Monday we will

meet next Tuesday, in which Tuesday is not the following day but the Tuesday occurring in the following week.

Others feel that they make a distinction between next Tuesday which is the first usage and Tuesday next which is the second usage."

It is difficult to investigate this area because it is generally hard to deduce from the context how far away the day in question is. Nevertheless, we made some interesting findings.

To begin with, it seems that expressions of the type Tuesday next are rare in English, although they do occur sometimes. In (10) – (12) are some of the few examples of this. Note in particular that the speaker in (12) also refers to the Monday which is two weeks away by the phrase Monday fortnight.

(10) Pupils from Steelestown PS, Bun Scoil Baile na Stil will be featured in the UTV programme "School Around the Corner" on Tuesday next at 7.30 pm. (written BrE)

(11) He is to go down Monday next. (written BrE)

(12) Yes, it'll come up on Monday next erm, no Monday fortnight, yes, twentieth. (spoken BrE)

Just as indicated by the dictionary entry, there seems to be a lot of variation and uncertainty. For example, in

(13) the phrase next Monday seems to refer to a day at least eight days away, and the writer clarifies this by using the date as well. In (14) the Tuesday in the following week is referred to with the phrase next Tuesday, but there is no intervening Tuesday in the week of the utterance, whereby the ambiguity is avoided.

(13) GREEN ON RED issue their China single, "Little Things", on March 11 and play three dates in London to tie in with its release. (…) DOCUMENT-NURSERY Records re-release ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN's debut 45 "Pictures

On My Wall" next Monday, March 18. (written BrE)

(14) "Not until next Tuesday. Very well then, next Tuesday." Major Vanavskaya put down the phone and scowled.

Four days. Well, she had waited two years, she could wait four more days. (written BrE)

A couple of instances from our spoken corpora illustrate the misunderstandings that may arise in real life. In (15) one of the speakers contrasts next Tuesday with this Tuesday, and in (16) Jane summarizes this whole discussion in the sentence "I get confused when people just say next Tuesday".

(15) Brian: That's next Tuesday? It's in March!

Cherrilyn: Yeah, well <pause> it's changed isn't it?

PS06J: It's ne-- not this Tuesday but next Tuesday. (spoken BrE)

(16) Jane: Is it your birthday tomorrow?

Dorothy: Aha.

Jane: You told me next Wednesday <pause> next Tuesday.

Dorothy: Well next Tuesday's tomorrow.

Dawn: Next Tuesday is tomorrow, yeah. (…)

Jane: Oh I thought it was next Tue-- I mean, a week on Tuesday.

(…)

Jane: I get confused when people just say next Tuesday.

Dorothy: As opposed to this Tuesday. (spoken BrE)

Judging from (15) and (16) you can solve the problem by saying this Tuesday if you mean the one in the present week. (It should be pointed out that it is also possible to make a distinction by using the expression Tuesday

week (I'd rather we miss chances now than throw them away against Servette on Tuesday week.).)

To conclude these dissimilar findings on next: It is possible to use next time, next day and next morning with or without the article in reference to this coming day/morning etc, although the alternative with the article is more common. Expressions like next Tuesday may cause confusion because they may either refer to the Tuesday of this week or of the following week. If you want to avoid misunderstandings you can say a week on Tuesday,

Tuesday week, Tuesday next or you can specify the date if you refer to the following week. This Tuesday would seem to be a good way of referring to the Tuesday in this week.

ML

3. How frequent is the indicative verb form compared to the subjunctive in hypothetical expressions such as If I were/was you...?

The subjunctive is an "endangered species" nowadays, especially in the past tense. The past subjunctive form

were, which is only visible in the first and third person singular (since were coincides with the indicative form in other persons), is used in if-clauses to express a meaning that is hypothetical or unreal. Some people use the

ordinary indicative form was in such cases, especially in an informal style, but this is often not accepted in writing. Svartvik and Sager claim in their university grammar that in the construction if I were you, were is the only valid alternative.

First, we looked at the construction if X were/was (+ 1–3 words + would, in order to sort out irrelevant examples), and found that was was in fact more frequent than were. In a corpus of 60 million words of British and American English, there were 119 instances of were, as in (1) and (2), and 156 instances of was, as in (3) and (4). All instances of noun phrases with plural subjects (e.g. they, the children) and the singular second person pronoun you were of course deleted, since there is no variation here.

(1) If this were to occur, it would be the biggest-ever failure in the nation's insurance industry, and would be just the latest fallout from the junk bond craze of the '80s. (American radio)

(2) But if I were President Bush I would be handing out Green Cards to Robert Robinson, Nigel Kennedy, Vic

Reeves, Kenny Everett, Esther Rantzen, Paul Daniels and Patsy Kensit. (dialogue from British tabloid)

(3) I think if it was plain white I would do them at sixty degrees (...) (spoken British)

(4) Look like if Martha was around here he would have found her by now. (dialogue from American book)

Next, we investigated the expression as if X were/was, and found that here the subjunctive, as in (5), was about twice as frequent as the indicative form, as in (6), in the material: 664 tokens of were vs. 336 tokens of was.

(5) She felt as if she were speaking in a dream. (American book)

(6) After three sessions she noticed that Imogen appeared to be more relaxed, and at 11 weeks it was as if she

was a different baby. (British newspaper)

With both the above constructions (if X were/was... would and as if X were/was), the majority of instances of the indicative form (was) were, as expected, found in conversation or written dialogue. Some of these, however, occurred in fairly formal speech situations such as (8), from an interview in the quality paper The Sydney Morning

Herald.

(8) If that was the case, we would lose the best chance in a decade to reform the taxation system for the benefit of the entire economy.

We could observe a small regional difference (studying comparable subcorpora of British and American English) with the first construction (if X were/was... would), where the indicative form (was) was used a little less frequently (27%) in the American material, than in the British (34%). However, since the difference was small and the material was quite restricted, we should not jump to conclusions.

Finally, we looked at the expression if I were/was you, where we observed an even more marked difference in frequency (even though it was not as Svartvik & Sager suggested, that if I was you is never used at all). We found 51 were, as in (9) and only 15 was, as in (10). This is of course an expression you find in conversation or written dialogue only, so all instances are from more or less informal English.

(9) And if I was you, I wouldn't even mention that piece of furniture I left in the warehouse. (dialogue in British book)

(10) "You know, if I were you, I wouldn't drink this stuff," he said after depositing the final nickel for her.

(dialogue in American book)

It is possible that the indicative in if-clauses is gaining ground in present-day English. It seems to have become a perfectly valid construction in all kinds of spoken language (also in more formal situations), and it would hardly be very surprising if the past subjunctive were disappears from the language in the future. The tendency of grammatical forms traditionally considered informal spreading to more formal language has been observed with other grammatical constructions (e.g. the so-called "split infinitive", which we discussed in GramTime News

01:4). As usual, however, we recommend non-natives to stick to the traditional forms in their writing, since the informal ones are not generally accepted.

ME

4. Is it OK to put the plural s on the last noun in words like mother-in-law?

Learning the plural of nouns is not always as straightforward as adding an s at the end. We have all struggled with foreign plurals like phenomenonphenomena and cactus cacti. Another tricky area is that of compound nouns. Here, indeed, the plural is an s, but where should it be put? Grammars tell us that if a compound noun consists of NOUN + PREPOSITION + NOUN, the plural marker should be attached to the first noun, so that if in life you happen to come across more than one mother-in-law (!), you should refer to these ladies by mothers-in-

law. Sometimes we see the s attached to the second noun instead, but the question is how frequent this usage is among native speakers. Could we accept it in our students' writing? Well, judging from the results of our corpus research, the answer is "No!". We looked at the plurals of mother/father/parent/brother/sister/son/daughter-in-

law and also editor-in-chief. There were 230 instances of the traditional construction with the plural s attached to the first noun and only 20 examples of mother-in-laws etc. in 160 million words of English. Virtually all of the latter were either from the spoken corpus material or from dialogue in books and newspapers, as is illustrated by the following examples.

(1) "(...) You don't have a decent dress shop in this town. If you have any doubts, you can ask your sister-in-

laws." (British book)

(2) "(...) It started with divorces, but now we're X-ing out anything and anyone: dogs, cats, mother-in-

laws." (Australian newspaper)

Plural s on law is of course used, however, in the (fairly informal) expression in-laws, as in (3), collectively referring to one's mother- and father-in-law, and sometimes also to one's sisters- and brothers-in-law.

(3) It felt strange that my daughter had never met my in-laws. (American book)

ME

5. Prepositional variation again: Which preposition predominates in the following constructions:

knock on/at X door, cast doubt on/upon/over/about, cast/shed/throw light on/upon/over?

By now you know that I am obsessed with prepositional variation, so I have dug out a few examples this time as well. Let's start out with a very concrete construction this time: knock on/at X door. The corpora (some 150 million words of British and American English) we used give at hand that there is a difference in frequency depending on whether knock is a noun or a verb. With the noun knock, on, as in example (1) was somewhat more frequent than at, as in example (2): 91 on and 62 at.

(1) Then one morning there was a knock on my door in New York and it was Sybil. (British tabloid)

(2) Thursday night, Espinosa was awakened by a soft knock at his door, which, just in case, he always kept locked. (American book)

When knock was a verb, however, on, as in (3) was about four times more frequent than at, illustrated by (4),

425 on vs. 98 at:

(3) And having been here four months the the health visitor turns up and knocks on the door and says "You haven't been to the clinic". (spoken British)

(4) Creditors were knocking at the door and the company faced insolvency. (British newspaper)

In the last example, knock at the door is used figuratively. In our material, there was a larger proportion of figurative use in cases with at than in cases with on. Here are a few more examples of such usage:

(5) All that mattered to the crowd was that death had knocked at someone else's door. (British book)

(6) All of his life he had been hankering after his personal freedom, and now freedom was knocking at his door, begging him to come in. (American book)

(7) And as time passes, early-model Japanese bikes are knocking at the qualification door in the post-classic section for bikes from 1963-72. (Australian newspaper)

(8) His greatest bonus is the fact that none of the younger generation knocking on the door is seriously seen as a

Prime Ministerial contender. (British tabloid)

As for the two other constructions, dictionaries indicate that there is no variation at all: cast doubt on and shed

light on are the only alternatives suggested. Our corpus investigation showed some variation, even if on predominated greatly in both constructions. Cast doubt was used with on in 501 cases, upon in 28 cases, over in

22 cases and about in only six cases. Similarly, cast/shed/throw light on predominated (412 cases), and there were only seven tokens of over (all of them in concrete situations) and two of upon.

With all the three prepositional constructions (knock on/at, cast doubt on/upon/over/about and cast/shed/throw

light on/upon/over) we compared one whole year of The New York Times and The Independent to see if we could spot any regional variation. Judging from these newspapers there is no such variation, since we found virtually the same proportions of prepositions in both papers.

6. Should I write AD 70 or 70 AD? The books I've consulted prefer the former, but I think I've heard the latter.

ME

Indeed, both alternatives – either putting the year first (e.g. 70 AD) or putting AD first (e.g. AD 70) do occur, as can be seen from the examples below from written BrE and from The New York Times 1995:

(1) Pertinax, the amiable, virtuous elderly senator who was prevailed upon to succeed the murdered Commodus as Roman Emperor in AD 193. (written BrE)

(2) Trajan's arch at the entrance to the Gate commemorates the Roman conquest of Dacia in AD 102. (written

BrE)

(3) As the geographer and traveler Strabo (64 B.C. to 25 A.D.) said, loss of face in battle could reduce even a continental Celt to 'lethargic, numbed depression'. (NYT)

(4) After studying the records of the excavations at Tikal, the oldest and earliest of the classic Maya cities in northern Guatemala, he concluded that Burial No. 125, which was discovered by William R. Coe in 1965, was that of the founder of the dynasty that led Tikal from 200 A.D. to 800 A.D. (NYT)

(Judging from our – admittedly limited – investigation, there appears to be a tendency for AmE to write the abbreviation AD with periods while BrE does without them.)

Ljung & Ohlander claim in their school grammar that AD is mostly placed before the year, while BC is placed after it. There seems to be some prescriptive pressure to write AD before the numerals. The style guide of The New

York Times, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, revised and expanded edition by Allan M. Siegal and

William G. Connolly, writes the following about AD (or A.D.) (p. 8): "Since it means in the year of the Lord (or of

our Lord), place the abbreviation ahead of the numerals: (…) In a reference to a century, though, the number comes first: fourth century A.D." It doesn't appear to have crossed the authors' minds that it's not entirely

"consistent" to advocate the use of A.D. 70 and the fourth century A.D. (the latter being the only alternative).

What did our corpora tell us? Well, in the British National Corpus with its wide range of spoken and written BrE material one out of four tokens (120 out of 470 = 25%) was of the 70 AD type. In The New York Times 1995, where the style guide appeals to logic and explicitly advises against this usage, the 70 AD type was used in one out of five instances (19 out of 95 = 20%). Thus a sizeable minority of the writers of that newspaper happily ignore the advice of its so-called experts.

Therefore, as so often happens, you can continue to ignore the rules of self-appointed language experts and instead follow the flow of real usage during the coming decades, by writing either AD 70 or 70 AD.

ML

3. Useful websites

Boggle's World inspiring activities for the youngest!

Many of the websites we have tipped you about are probably useful mainly for fairly advanced students of

English. Here is a tip for our kids instead. Boggle's World is a website where you as a teacher can find a plethora of inspiring activities for beginners. Everything is free and all you have to do is find an activity that pleases you

and print it out for your students to work with. For some of the activities you also get instructions as to how they can be used in the classroom. Among many other things you will find:

● simple crosswords with words for fruits, animals, body parts etc.

● word searches, where the kids are to locate the names of, for instance, birds or mammals in a square full of letters

● flash cards which you paste on a cardboard backing and which can then be used for various games

● verb exercises, where the children practise new verbs in different questions

● creative writing – topics for short essays, such as Time Machine ("If I had a Time Machine, I would...") and

The Box ("I was walking down the street when I saw a small wooden box by the road. Suddenly, I heard a voice say "Help! Let me out of here!" To my surprise, the voice was coming from the box...")

If you think this is something for you, why don't you check out http://bogglesworld.com

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

––– . 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

––– . Forthcoming. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Tvärvetenskaplig forskning inom lärarutbildningen.

Om kärnämnesproblematiken. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English.

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies 6, 1-16. Journal of Japan Association for English Corpus Studies. 1999.

·

–––. 1999c. Corpora and dictionaries. In The Perfect Learners' Dictionary. Lexicographica, Series Maior. Thomas

Herbst & Kerstin Popp (eds). .. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 1999.

·

–––. 1999d. Bidrag till Synpunkter på en svensk grammatik. Inlägg vid Svenska Akademiens grammatiksymposium 4-5 mars 1985, 69 -74. Stockholm: Norstedts.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter,

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2002.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

**************

00:1, February 2000

Welcome to the eighth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling , MA

Contributing editors: Jan Svartvik , Prof Em and Magnus Levin , MA

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. Book tip

5. Christmas competition - the winners

6. GramTime publications

7. Practical information

8. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

The skylark was observed outside Lund today. What else is there to say? Perhaps that our contributing editor Jan

Svartvik was awarded the August prize in December for his book Engelska öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk, but that was probably not missed by anyone. Congrats, Jan!

Meanwhile, Maria and Magnus have been industrious at their computers, finding out about rather than + ? and whether it is OK to behave oneself badly and slam the door shut behind oneself, or perhaps better to behave friendly. Magnus has an exciting new piece on article usage, and he also found out that he could avoid work by looking up the answer to one of the questions in a recent corpus-based grammar, which we will return to. We continue to recommend some of our competitors' websites, in the vain hope that they will do the same with ours.

This issue's book tip is about a book claiming that gossip is the origin of language. Finally, three cheers for the winners of our Christmas competition, Olle Kjellin and Pia George!

Looking forward to seeing all of you at the LMS conference in Göteborg 1–2 April!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Which form of the verb the infinitive, the -ing form or the to infinitive should be used after the

construction rather than?

There seems to be a great deal of variation in this area. All three alternatives can be found, as can be seen in (1) to (3) below:

(1) Rather than face the shame of interrogation, the Phoenix King took poison. (BrE)

(2) I just participate 'cause there are some interns who decided that rather than teaching they're going to sit out and it's really not, it's not appropriate. (AmE)

(3) (…) people's aim was to get out rather than to improve the conditions or or work on local issues. (BrE)

There are clear distributional differences, however. The bare infinitive in (1) and the -ing form in (2) appear to be about equally common, while the to-infinitive in (3) is very rare. No noticeable differences between British and

American English and written and spoken language were found.

ML

2. I've heard Shania Twain's hit That don't impress me much, but to me this title just sounds wrong.

Shouldn't it be That doesn't impress me much?

Non-standard verb agreement causes problems for many people – not least English teachers! The non-standard forms, which we have been taught are 'wrong', are not infrequent in spontaneous conversations. We have all come across instances such as those in (1) to (4):

(1) I thought you was never comin'. (BrE)

(2) He don't even know what it's called. (BrE)

(3) They doesn't want to do them. (BrE)

(4) Are you in agreement with me, I says. (BrE)

Fortunately, this issue is investigated in a recent corpus-based grammar, Biber, Douglas, Stig Johansson,

Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad & Edward Finegan, Longman grammar of spoken and written English (1999). In this grammar they present some statistics of agreement with personal pronouns, as is seen below:

Percentage use of non-standard forms in conversation (BrE + AmE) (Biber et al 1999:191)

Standard form Non-standard form % use non-standard

I was I were

c. 5%

You were

She was

They were

I say

You say

He doesn't

They don't

You was

She were

They was

I says

You says

He don't

They doesn't

c. 10% c. 10% c. 5% c. 50%

Less than 2% c. 40%

Less than 2%

Disconcerting figures, indeed. It is particularly striking that the reporting clause I says (see (4) above) and the sequence he don't (2 above) are so very frequent. Apart from these cases, however, non-standard forms appear to be relatively rare. It is noteworthy that some sequences almost never occur; apart from the tag sequence

aren't I, the sequence *I are almost never occurs.

In written standard English, however, we can of course still stick to traditional agreement patterns.

ML

3. Can you say He behaved himself badly?

When recently watching an episode of the American TV-series Ally MacBeal, I was puzzled by a construction which goes against what grammar books and dictionaries say about how the English verb behave should be used.

The general rule is that to behave is not reflexive unless its meaning is 'to behave well' (especially in exhortations like Behave yourself!) and is not followed by an adverbial (or preceded by an adverb such as how). The construction I heard was He behaved himself badly in court. Since I was curious to know if we are facing a new feature of English usage, I checked with some corpora and indeed found some examples of behave + reflexive pronoun + adverbial:

(1) But perhaps one of the reasons that deputies and their aides behave themselves so wantonly is that this is how they were taught in Soviet schools to view American democracy. (The New York Times)

(2) They come in all shapes and sizes, from all different molds, and a good number of them behave themselves

just like Hill. (The New York Times)

(3) His recent . . .but all shall be well, which had its London premiere on Tuesday, behaves itself alarmingly well.

(The Independent)

(4) ... it seemed unlikely that they were behaving themselves with appropriate decorum. (The Independent)

(5) Then France recalls its ambassador for consultations on the grounds that Australia has not been behaving

itself diplomatically. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

(6) He probably behaves himself properly for MX. (spoken British English)

It seems, however, that native speakers, although sometimes disregarding the general norm for how behave is used, more often than not follow the norm. There were several hundred times more instances of the construction without a reflexive pronoun.

ME

4. Can friendly be used as an adverb?

One of our students recently reacted against our claim that friendly is just an adjective, and cannot be used as an adverb on its own. Grammar books tell us that (apart from a few particular adjectives) only temporal words like

daily and monthly can be used both as adjectives and as adverbs. Words like friendly, lively, manly and so forth have to be expanded into prepositional phrases such as in a friendly manner, way or fashion in order to be used in adverbial functions. Now, what do our corpora say on the matter? Are adjectives of this type ever used as adverbs on their own, without an expanded construction?

I looked at the words disorderly, friendly, gentlemanly, godly, heavenly, kindly, kingly, leisurely, lively, manly,

masterly, orderly, seemly, slovenly, timely, unseemly and womanly in texts comprising more than fifty million words. Some of these words were used very rarely or not at all in adverbial contexts and when they were, they generally occurred in prepositional phrases just as the grammar books suggest. There were between 0 (heavenly,

kingly and womanly) and 28 (friendly) examples per word. I also noticed that in some of the occurrences with

fashion the indefinite article was missing, as in (1):

(1) At the start of the Congregation, before they were locked up incommunicado, Paul VI addressed them in

friendly fashion ... (British book)

I did, however, find some examples where the simple word is used as an adverb without a prepositional phrase.

There were two examples of adverbal friendly and one each of lively and orderly :

(2) Big Chas's hand fell on my shoulder."Lovejoy," he said friendly, and sang. (British book)

(3) I knew Mr. Pugh wanted to talk peaceably and friendly with everybody, but Pritchard Ellis always turned it into a thing like those debating societies they have. (British book)

(4) You tell me how to drive, you tell me how to walk. Step lively, Amy. You're a woman, you need some direction. (American conversation)

(5) We want you to remember that, as members of a government-in-waiting, you have a responsibility to behave

orderly and with dignity. (American radio)

The words leisurely and kindly deviate from the other words in that they are recognized in some dictionaries as also being used as adverbs in the simple form, the latter sometimes with a slightly different meaning. In the

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, kindly is defined as (a) 'in a kind way; generously', (b) 'a word meaning 'please', which is often used when you are annoyed: Will you kindly put that book back?. It also occurs

in some phrases.

There were hundreds of examples of kindly and eight examples of leisurely used as adverbs, and few examples of these words in the prepositional construction (3 for in a kindly X and 5 for in a leisurely X), so, at least with kindly it seems that the simple form is preferred to the prepositional construction. Here is one example of leisurely used as an adverb found in a British magazine:

(6) Then stroll leisurely up the hill to Belgin's Kitchen, a supposedly authentic Turkish-style restaurant complete with carpets cushions and low tables.

Since there were so few tokens overall of these -ly words in adverbial function, it is difficult to know whether the occurrences of friendly and orderly as adverbs are noteworthy or not – it would have been easier to draw conclusions if we had had 200 instances of in a friendly way and 2 instances of just friendly.

Finally, the most likely explanation seems to be that the -ly ending misleads people (maybe even natives) to feel that friendly is already an adverb form and thus needs no further elaboration, especially since some similar words are used in this way (cf. daily, kindly and leisurely).

ME

5. Are the names of foreign newspapers used with or without the definite article in English?

If a foreign article is clearly expressed at the beginning of the name, as in Le Figaro or der Spiegel, then this article is used also in English, as seen in (1):

(1) Le Monde, France's daily newspaper of record, has been redesigned and relaunched with the help of a Fr25m advertising campaign which proclaims: "Le Monde is changing." (BrE)

Swedish newspapers, which have the definite article placed at the end of the name, do not appear to be used with a definite article in English. The sample studied here was small – about 20 tokens – but not a single instance of the Dagens Nyheter or the Svenska Dagbladet was found. This is an interesting finding, since Svartvik & Sager in their university grammar write that the article is included 'sometimes' with these names. A typical example is seen in (2):

(2) Indeed, if the scores are in reality comparable across countries, The Times today is about as difficult as

Dagens Nyheter was in 1900! (BrE)

However, there appears to be some variation with certain German names. These names do not have the definite article included in the official logotype of the paper, which means that there is some confusion for English writers.

Two representative instances are seen in (3) and (4):

(3) Whatever was said, Becker clearly seems to have changed his mind about the credibility and validity of the

Grand Slam Cup, judging by a recent interview he gave to Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's most influential newspapers. (BrE)

(4) The most plausible explanation comes from the Stuttgarter Zeitung, a respected local German newspaper.

(BrE)

ML

6. How frequent is the use of reflexive instead of personal pronouns in sentences such as She closed

the door behind herself?

An English sentences such as She closed the door behind her would be translated into Swedish with a reflexive pronoun for the English personal pronoun her. Svartvik & Sager write that, generally, a personal pronoun is used after prepositions of space in such constructions. They also admit, however, that constructions with reflexive pronouns do occur. I used the example sentences in the book to see how frequent this usage really is. The constructions I studied in a corpus of spoken and written British and American material (c. 30 million words) are:

look about/around + PRON

have something ahead of + PRON

have/place/put something around + PRON

close/shut etc. the door behind + PRON

have/place/put something beside + PRON

have/place/put something between + PRON

push something in front of + PRON

take something with + PRON

There was great variation in the frequency of tokens (including both reflexive and personal pronouns), from less than five to several hundred, which of course makes it difficult to talk about general frequencies. The corpus material provided a few examples of reflexive pronouns, even though the ordinary construction with a personal pronoun was far more frequent. Note that five out of six of the examples were found in the American material.

(1) `Yeah," she said. `Well, thanks." S'okay," the girl said as she shut the door behind herself. (American book)

(2) Lainey and Sarah came in, shutting the front door behind themselves. (American book)

(3) There it was--the well-known whereabouts of that stray grandson whom Lulu Lamartine and Marie Kashpaw shared uneasily between themselves. (American book)

(4) Er she'll make us a drink and we'll sit there and have a just have a natter between ourselves ... (spoken

British English)

(5) No, no right now we know who we're gonna play right now we're having our own little tournament between

ourselves. (spoken American English)

(6) And then one day Lulu's mailed picture of Gerry Nanapush arrived in Fargo, a wanted-poster message regarding his father that evidently made the boy stop and look around himself. (American book)

It is possible that some patterns are more likely than others to accept a reflexive pronoun. The two patterns exemplifed by Svartvik & Sager were also two of the three constructions that were found in the corpus: close/

shut the door behind + reflexive pronoun, as in (1) and (2) and have/place/put something between + reflexive pronoun, as in (3) – (5). I also found a third pattern, the look around/about pattern, as in (6). As for the use of

between ourselves etc. it could possibly be attributed to the fact that such an expression exists, although carrying another meaning, i.e. 'between you and me'.

ME

3. Useful websites

Expand your lexical universe!

Are you curious about the etymologies of the expressions Come hell or high water or knock on wood? Would you like to know what hybrid CD:s and web rings are? Answers to these and many other questions can be found at a website called World Wide Words. A couple of GTN issues ago we presented The Majority English Dibul. The website of this issue is another website devoted to words in English and the producer, Michael Quinion, also provides a newsletter that is sent weekly to subscribers all over the world. You will find the site at the following address: http://www.quinion.com/words/ .

The website has a great deal of information to offer about such things as...

... new words and phrases that have not yet been described in dictionaries, e.g. v-mail = 'a short video message sent by e-mail' and raw foodism = 'an extreme form of vegetarianism, in which all cooking is eschewed in favour of raw ingredients as near their natural state as possible' (under the headline Turn of

phrases)

... new meanings of words and phrases, e.g. (under the headline Topical words)

... originins of words and phrases, e.g. arms akimbo and honeymoon (under the headline Questions and

answers)

... weird words: "obscure or odd words are dragged out, blinking in the light, from the darker recesses of the Oxford English Dictionary"

Furthermore, the website provides book reviews and discussions of langauge usage, such as whether verbs should end in -ize or -ise and whether one should say data is or data are. You will also find information about how to become a subscriber to the newsletter – which is free!

World Wide Words has received a great deal of positive criticism in the press. Here are a few mentions:

"Michael Quinion ... records the latest words and explains some common phrases on this wonderful site, so finding out about new words can be a daily event. A treat for etymologists, wordsmiths and show-offs everywhere." [The Editor supplement in The Guardian, 20 February 1999.]

"Michael Quinion's ever-growing site is the place to chew over questions .. and get the low-down on hot new words." [Technofile column in Independent on Sunday, 31 January 1999.]

"Anyone who loves words will love World Wide Words." [USA Today, 20/27 January 1999.]

ME

4. Book tip

Dunbar, Robin. 1996. Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language. London: Faber and Faber. 230 pp. GBP 7.99.

The origin of language has fascinated linguists and laymen for a long time. Historical linguists have traced developments backwards in time into a misty past, postulating ancestor languages like proto-Indoeuropean (PIE) for the European languages and, more recently, the even more ancient (and dubious) Nostratic for even more languages. Now scholars from Archaeology (e.g. the controversial Colin Renfrew), Neuroscience (Steven Pinker),

Genetics and Psychology seem to be moving towards an understanding of the possible origins of language, and linguists like Derek Bickerton and Ray Jackendoff have picked up on their theories. The field is still looked upon with a certain amount of suspicion by many, but in the nineties there have been two international conferences on

The Evolution of Language, and a third will be organized in Paris 3-6 April this year with many famous linguists participating.

In 1996 Robin Dunbar, a British professor of psychology who has also been professor of biological anthropology, caused quite a stir with a book where he argues that language must have developed from the need of apes to create social networks to survive in big flocks. Most scholars now believe that language developed in Africa with

early man, and then spread, perhaps in three separate waves, over the globe. Dunbar carried out extensive field studies of monkeys in East and West Africa, and the following is, in short, his argument.

The grooming that goes on among monkeys is basically an act to create social networks. A monkey that is attacked is usually defended by its grooming partners. To keep up a grooming relationship takes a number of hours a day, and with the need for food gathering and other activities there is only time for a limited number of such relationships. But apes that were able to keep up networks using language had an evolutionary edge over those that could not, since with language you can "groom" (gossip with) approximately three people at a time instead of one with physical grooming! And according to Dunbar and many studies he cites, gossiping and the various kinds of group control that is carried out by similar means is a major part of everyday language use among humans. I suppose teachers are a bit different, since we tend to preach a lot, but study all your verbal interaction with friends and colleagues for a day: How much of it is describing, commenting on, discussing, condemning and (less frequently) praising the actions of your fellow humans? I did this and was surprised.

Dunbar's book is not the last word on the origin of language, but possibly it provides one piece of the solution. At any rate, it is full of fascinating information on apes and people and is highly recommended reading.

References

Bickerton, Derek. 1981. Roots of language. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Karoma

Bickerton, Derek. 1990. Language and species. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Jackendoff, Ray. 1992. Languages of the mind. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Pinker, Steven. 1994 (1995). The language instinct. New York: Harper Collins

Renfrew, Colin. (1987) 1989 Archaeology and language. The puzzle of Indo-European Origins. London: Penguin

HL

5. Christmas competition - the winners

The Christmas competition that we offered in the last issue of GramTime News was obviously either too difficult or too boring; the avalanche of suggestions for nonce-words (of the type that David Crystal describes in his book

Language Play) that we had expected never appeared. We did, however, receive one small avalanche, coming from Olle Kjellin and Pia George who came up with no fewer than 25 very creative suggestions. Well done! We will send you Crystal's book and hope you will enjoy reading it. Here are some of their nonce-words:

infaumatized = receiving such amounts of information that your head spins and you end up in a shock-like state due to brain overload (information + traumatized)

moniac = a person obsessed with money (money + maniac)

pressent = a Christmas gift you felt forced to give (pressed + present)

buyased = being partial to the art of shopping (buy + biased)

purrchase = the act of adding a feline member to your family (purr + purchase)

clanliness = when you avoid genetic contamination by keeping it all in the family (clan + cleanliness)

internetional = the modern way of uniting in brotherhood between peoples (Internet + international)

predictionary = word list containing only well-known words (predict + dictionary)

emphatigue = marked tiredness (emphasis + fatigue)

Lapp top = summit in northern Scandinavia

ME

6. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och

amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. In press. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. Proceedings from ICAME 99, Freiburg.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. To appear in Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist, Maria Estling & Magnus Levin (eds).

Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Prepositional variation in British and American English. To appear in Studies in Mid-Atlantic

English. Marco Modiano (ed).

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. Marco Modiano (ed). Studies in Mid-Atlantic English.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. Gunilla Anderman & Margaret Rogers (eds). Word, text

and translation. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively ? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. John Kirk (ed) Corpora galore. Analyses and Techniques in Describing English. Amsterdam & Atlanta:

Rodopi.

·

–––. In press. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. Proceedings from ICAME99,

Freiburg.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies.

·

–––. In press. Corpora and Dictionaries. The perfect learner’s dictionary. Proceedings from a symposium at

Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter.

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

7. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

Please note that we have a new website address!

8. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in May 2000.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

01:3, September 2001

Welcome to the thirteenth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , MA, Roy Liddle, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

I realize that you must have been checking your e-mail every day, waiting for our September issue and being very disappointed at/in/with us. Now you get Maria’s answer to that preposition quandary, and also to the question whether Americans stay home while Brits stay at home. She also succeeds in showing that we should still keep "succeed in" and "manage to" apart. I think some ?persons/people will be happy to hear that at least some time-honoured rules still hold.

This issue was in fact written before the recent happenings in New York and Washington, and a sentence like the following, quoted by Maria in her "aside" piece, sounds eerily out of date:

( 1) The president pushed aside any consideration of using force to end the fighting.

In his contributions, Magnus deals with Australian spelling, where anything seems to go, and gives us some clues

regarding the interesting distribution of the three question constructions "do you have"/"have you got"/"have you". As you may remember, Magnus is our expert on gender relations, so one might expect his article on

"attraction errors" to be on the causes of infelicitous marriage choices or illicit love affairs. You’ll have to read for yourselves!

We’re convinced that corpus work, being a superb form of problem-based learning, will eventually find its way into the language classroom, and those of you who want to try it will get many good ideas from this issue’s web tip.

Finally, I should apologize for the late arrival of all these goodies. It is all my fault. I’ve been busy hunting mushrooms (ceps and other boleti, chanterelles, puffballs, black trumpets and many more whose English names I do not know).

Happy hunting, you too,

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. During the summer I read a few recent novels, and I noticed that questions in dialogues with have rather consistently involved constructions of the type Have you any money?. Isn't this a bit oldfashioned? Aren't Have you got any money? and Do you have any money? more likely alternatives?

The choice between (a) have as a main verb, (b) the have got construction and (c) do-support occurs both in interrogative and negative sentences. The alternatives are exemplified in (1) and (2):

(1a) Meryl, have you a minute? (BrE, written)

(1b) David have you got a minute? (BrE, spoken)

(1c) Do you have a card? (AmE, spoken)

(2a) No, I haven't a cold. (BrE, spoken)

(2b) I haven't got a drink. (BrE, spoken)

(2c) I don't have a telephone. (BrE, spoken)

In A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language Quirk et al (1985:131f) propose that (a) is used especially in BrE and is "more formal", (b) is also used especially in BrE, but is considered to be "informal". Alternative (c) is thought to be AmE, but "also common in BrE nowadays".

Siemund found evidence of a shift in newspaper language in a 1995 article on recent changes in written BrE. In the material from the 1960s the three alternatives were about equally common, but in the 1990s do-support, alternative (c), had become clearly the most frequent.

The tables below contain comparisons between authentic AmE conversations, BrE conversations and dialogues in

BrE fiction. (The British material comes from the British National Corpus (BNC) and the American material from the Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC).)

Table 1. Have you a(n), have you got a(n) and do you have a(n) in BrE speech, AmE speech and BrE fiction.

BrE speech AmE speech BrE fiction

4% 0% 21%

(a) have you a(n)

86% 5% 36%

(b) have you got a(n)

10% 95% 43%

(c) do you have a(n)

Table 2. I haven't a(n), I haven't got a(n) and I don't have a(n) in BrE speech, AmE speech and BrE fiction.

BrE speech AmE speech BrE fiction

(a) I haven't a(n)

(b) I haven't got a(n)

(c) do you have a(n)

11%

80%

8%

3%

1%

96%

26%

37%

47%

The tables reveal a number of interesting findings. Firstly, there do not seem to be any noteworthy differences between usage in interrogative and negative sentences, since the proportions in the tables match each other very closely. Secondly, there is a very clear difference between BrE speech and AmE speech. BrE speech uses have

(n't) got in a vast majority of the cases, whereas AmE speech overwhelmingly uses do-support. Thirdly, fictional

BrE dialogue seems to be out of touch with practice in current spoken BrE., which was what our reader felt when he asked this question. The use of have as in the (a) alternatives is much more frequent in written dialogues than in authentic dialogues. It is also striking that the "AmE" choice with do-support in (c) is the most common alternative in BrE fiction in spite of the fact that this is the least frequent choice in spoken BrE.

It should be observed, however, that this investigation is limited in scope. For instance, Table 2 only shows the proportions of the alternatives (a), (b) and (c), and does not include a fourth possibility, namely I have no. This seems to be particularly common in writing where it in fact appears to be the most frequent choice. The four possibilities are seen in (3a-d).

(3a) I haven't a clue, mum. (AmE, spoken)

(3b) I haven't got a clue what I wanna do tonight. (BrE, spoken)

(3c) Hey, I don't have a clue. (AmE, spoken)

(3d) I have no clue. (AmE, spoken)

It should also be observed that the frequencies of various more or less fixed expressions may influence the statistics. For example, the few tokens of I haven't a(n) in spoken AmE all involved the phrase I haven't a clue as in (3a). I have no clue was nevertheless a more frequent choice in that corpus.

In conclusion, there seems to be a clear difference between AmE speech and BrE speech with have in interrogative and negative sentences. If we for the moment choose to ignore I have no clue, AmE speakers often say I don't have a clue, while BrE speakers often say I haven't got a clue. BrE writers frequently use all three alternatives, I haven't a clue, I haven't got a clue and I don't have a clue. It is perhaps too strong to claim that this demonstrates that the writers haven't got a clue about current usage in Britain. Instead this is probably just another indication that more conservative language is used in writing than in speech.

ML

2. Why are "attraction" errors, such as The key to the cabinets were broken, so difficult to avoid for my students?

"Attraction" or "proximity concord" has been defined as "agreement of the verb with a closely preceding noun phrase in preference to agreement with the head of the noun phrase that functions as a subject" (Quirk et al

1985:757). Such errors are exemplified in (1) and (2) below. In (1) the head of the subject noun phrase is singular, but the plural local noun intervening between the head and the verb causes a plural verb. In (2) a singular noun intervenes between the head and the verb.

(1) The cost of the improvements have not yet been estimated.

(2) The costs of the improvement has not yet been estimated.

Errors of this type crop up almost everywhere. They are rare in edited writing, but fairly frequent in speech and, as we can confirm, quite common in student essays. Here is a striking example of how these errors occur where you least expect it: A New York City newspaper once conducted a survey in which respondents were asked the following question: "Efforts to make English the official language is gaining strength throughout the U.S. What is your reaction?" The attraction error in the question caused The New Yorker to reply: "It's hopeless." (cited in

Bock & Miller 1991:45).

Because it is virtually impossible to investigate this area using our corpora we will have to rely on what other linguists have written on the subject. The findings are highly relevant to those who work as teachers of English as a foreign language. To begin with, Francis (1986, 1994) noted down the instances of attraction that he happened to come across in speech and writing. Although his statistics do not show how frequent such errors are, they indicate that plural verbs instead of singulars are involved.

Francis suggests that attraction errors may be on the increase in English. This possible increase indicates that

English is drifting towards the "happy state" (1986:310) of the Scandinavian languages where there are no number distinctions left in the verbs. In this context it should be mentioned that there are dialects of English that have lost the number distinction in the verbs. For instance, East Anglian dialects in England have no s-suffix on the verbs at all, and some dialects in the west and north of England use the s-suffix on all forms in the present tense (Trudgill 1990:94).

In the following a number of experimental studies will be referred to. They all involve more or less the same method. Native speaker informants in the experiments either read or heard sentence preambles such as the cost

of the improvements or the costs of the improvement and were asked to immediately complete a sentence beginning with the phrase. In this manner large numbers of attraction errors - and correct uses of agreement - were elicited. Of course, there were also quite a large number of the sentences which were irrelevant because they did not include a number-inflected verb form, e.g. the cost of the improvements had been unexpected.

The most important finding of these experiments is that errors caused by intervening plural nouns are far more common than errors caused by local singular nouns. For example, Bock & Miller (1991) found that between 80 and 90% of the errors occurred with singular heads and plural local nouns. This result has been replicated in a number of studies, e.g. Bock & Cutting (1992).

Another result concerns which units may cause attraction. Bock & Cutting (1992) found that errors to be more common after prepositional phrases than after clauses. (3) is therefore more likely to produce an error than (4).

(3) The key to the ornate Victorian cabinets was/were damaged.

(4) The assumption that he caused the technical problems was/were correct

Eberhard (1999) made an additional discovery. The participants in her experiment were asked to complete two types of sentences. The first type began with single referent phrases. For instance, the key to the filing cabinets involves only one key. The second type included distributive referent phrases, as in the picture on the postcards.

In this example many pictures were referred to. It was found that more agreement errors occurred in the distributive referent condition than in the single referent condition. This suggests that both the semantic and grammatical number of a subject NP influence subject-verb agreement.

Bock & Eberhard (1993) explain the phenomenon that plural local nouns cause more errors than singular nouns by suggesting that a singular verb is a default value that is normally blocked by a plural head noun and sometimes by a plural local noun. Be that as it may, the fact that even native speakers have difficulties in assigning the correct inflection in the correct place and that these errors appear to follow some sort of pattern may provide some comfort for disillusioned teachers of English as a foreign language.

References

Bock, Kathryn & J. Cooper Cutting. 1992. Regulating mental energy: Performance units in language production.

Journal of Memory and Language 31, 99-127.

Bock, Kathryn & Kathleen Eberhard. 1993. Meaning, sound and syntax in English number agreement. Language and Cognitive Processes 8(1), 57-99.

Bock, Kathryn & C.A. Miller. 1991. Broken agreement. Cognitive Psychology 23, 45-93.

Eberhard, Kathleen M. 1999. The accessibility of conceptual number to the processes of subject-verb agreement in English. Journal of Memory and Language 41, 560-578.

Francis, W. Nelson. 1986. Proximity concord in English. Journal of English Linguistics, 19/2. 309-318.

Francis, W. Nelson. 1994. More on proximity concord. In Little, G. D. & M. B. Montgomery (eds.) Centennial usage studies. Tuscaloosa: American Dialect Society, 162-4.

Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech & Jan Svartvik. 1985. A comprehensive grammar of the

English language. London: Longman.

Trudgill, Peter. 1990. The dialects of England. Oxford: Blackwell.

ML

3. Americans spell the words color, organize and traveling the way they do, while Brits spell them

colour, organize or organise and travelling. But what are the preferences of Australian spelling?

We will look at three areas of regional spellings in this small survey of AusE spelling, namely the variation between -our and -or as in colour/color, between -ise and -ize as in realise/realize, and between -ll- and -l- in words such as travelling.

The Macquarie Dictionary explains the historical background to the variation between -our and -or in AmE, BrE and AusE: "This variation arose in England in the seventeenth century, when some theorists believed words ought to be spelt according to their origins. The words from French were supposed, in this case, to be spelt with -our and those directly from Latin with -or. As people were not always sure from which language a word came, there was some confusion, and more and more people felt it best to use -or for all of them. The trend ran its full course in the US where -or is always used. However, it was halted in England by Samuel Johnson's dictionary of 1755.

He allowed some of these words, such as error, horror and terror, to go to -or, but the rest were fixed with -our.

In Australia, as in Britain, the most common spelling of these words is with -our, although -or is often used and certainly occurs consistently in a large number of magazines and newspapers."

The present small study confirms the pattern for AusE. The words studied here (mainly colour/color, vigour/vigor and labour/labor) indicate a preference for the "BrE" -our spelling in a proportion of about 7:1. It should be observed, however, that the Australian Labour Party is called "Labor". This means that sentences may occur where both spellings occur, as in (1) where both a branch of the Australian Party and its British counterpart are referred to. (The instances referring to the Labor Party were not included in the statistics.)

(1) NSW Labor has even adopted British Labour's application of the economists' phrase "value-added" to school performance indicators (…) (Sydney Morning Herald)

We now turn to the -ise/ize variation. The Macquarie Dictionary claims in this area that -ize is the usual spelling in American English. In Britain there is some variety (…). Current Australian usage clearly favours -ise, a practice which has the advantage of being easy to remember." In Sydney Morning Herald the -ise spelling is consistently adhered to, while in the Australian Corpus of English there is more variation with -ise being used in the proportions 3:1. (This comparison was based on organise, characterise and realise.)

Finally, we turn to the variation between -ll- and -l-. The Macquarie Dictionary has the following to say: "In

Australia this spelling varies occasionally with a single l, as in dueler, medalist, trialed. (The single l is the standard spelling in USA [sic, cf. GTN 2001:2 on the use of USA without the definite article].)" These words are rarer than the others investigated, and because of this the proportions are much less reliable. The "BrE" use of -

ll- was about 50 times more frequent than the AmE spelling.

To summarise (or summarize), in spite of Australia's position on the globe, Australian spelling, as many other aspects of language usage, places AusE in the middle of the Atlantic between AmE and BrE. In the area of spelling, it appears that AusE is closer to BrE than to AmE.

4. Some of my students use persons as the plural of person instead of people. Is that OK?

You sometimes hear and read the claim that people is the most appropriate plural form of person. A number of dictionaries and usage handbooks (e.g. the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and Practical English

Usage by Michael Swan. 1995) observe that persons is used in very formal, official or legal language only, as in the following examples from the Longman dictionary:

(1) He was murdered by a person or persons unknown.

(2) This elevator may only carry eight persons.

ML

We also checked with our corpora to see if the claims in the dictionaries were supported by authentic language data. If wee look at the following table, we can first of all conclude that people was far more common than

persons in all the corpora consulted, used in at least 97% of the cases. It also seems that persons was slightly more frequent in two of the American corpora than in the corresponding British ones, if one compares the absolute number of tokens in relation to the size of the different corpora: 41 per million words in AmE books vs.

26 per million words in BrE books, 5 per million words in AmE speech vs. 3 per million words in BrE speech. The difference was not very large, however, especially when considering the overwhelming majority of examples of

people in both varieties.

people

British books British speech The Independent, -95 American books American speech The New York Times, -95

6961 98% 23512 100% 38489 99% 6396 97% 9690 100% 30552 99%

33 0% 342 1% 204 3% 26 0% 388 1%

persons

129 2%

Now, let us take a closer look at the cases where persons were used. First, we can conclude that in the great majority of these cases, persons seems to be used in more or less formal situations. There were a number of examples where persons was used in speech, but these were very few compared to the examples in the written sources. Moreover, even though there are examples of informal contexts, as in (1), most of the spoken examples seem to be used in fairly formal language, as in (2).

(1) But erm, my, my own mother-in-law I got on quite well with. She was one of the most wonderful persons ever lived. (radio phone-in discussion)

(2) And we were not a Vineyard at that time but one of our staff persons David Russe who planted the church with me went down to Anaheim. And the spirit of God came upon him and impacted him in such a powerful way much like what you're seeing today. (sermon)

We can further observe that, when used, persons often occurs in particular noun phrases, such as displaced

persons, homeless persons and missing persons, as in (3) to (5)

(3) I found out after the war that my parents had died and there was no trace of my sister. Europe was in ruins, a sea of dead and displaced persons. (British book)

(4) (...) Mr. Hayes said his mandate was "to represent the interests of homeless persons," adding that he may recommend changes in the partnership's staff, corporate structure and board membership. (The New York Times)

(5) Anyway, why didn't you put out a missing persons notice? (American book)

About 70 of the 388 examples of persons in The New York Times referred to the American Association of Retired

Persons, as in (6), and in The Independent we found quite a few mentions of the Children and Young Persons Act, as in (7):

(6) Modern Maturity, published by the American Association of Retired Persons, is sent free to the organization's members, who are 50 or older. (The New York Times)

(7) He said transferring children sentenced for serious offences under Section 53 of the Children and Young

Persons Act was deplorable. (The Independent)

To conclude, it is safer not to overuse persons as a plural form of person, and instead stick to the old rule that

people is preferable in most circumstances.

ME

5. Which preposition is the most common one in combination with disappointed: about, at, by, in or

with?

The area of prepositional variation seems to be inexhaustible. The case for today concerns the adjective

disappointed, which according to the Longman dictionary can be combined with either about, in, with or at. The examples given there suggest that about and at are combined with clauses, as in (1) and (2) whereas in and with go together with noun phrases, as in (3) and (4). The dictionary also points out that in is used with noun phrases

expressing human beings.

(1) Nathan's really disappointed about not being able to go.

(2) Are you disappointed at not being chosen?

(3) I'm disappointed in you.

(4) I have to say we're disappointed with your work.

Collins-Cobuild English guide has it that with and in are used with human beings and with and at with other prepositional complements. Norstedts engelska prepositionsbok says the same about human beings, but only suggests with in other cases. Swan's Practical English usage suggests with for human beings and with, at or

about in other cases. There is obviously little consensus on this construction in the literature. So let us see what our corpora say.

About was the least frequent (3 to 4%) preposition in both our British and our American material. With was the most frequent preposition in the British material we looked at (34%), with by in second place (26%) and at in third (22%). In the American material by (which was not even mentioned in the literature) was the most frequent choice (36%), and in and with the second and third most frequent prepositions with 30 and 24 per cent respectively. At was much more frequent in the British material (22%) than in the American (6%), whereas in was twice as frequent in the American material (30%) as in the British (15%). The American material we have access to is much smaller, however, so these possible regional differences should be regarded with caution. It should also be noted that the figures concern written material only, since there were very few examples of

disappointed in the spoken material. However, a large number of the tokens in this written material are from spoken dialogue. All figures are shown in the following table:

about at by in with

Total

40 4% 236 22% 286 26% 160 15% 369 34% 1091 101% written British written American

9 3% 17 6% 99 36% 82 30% 66 24% 273 99%

Now, let us disregard possible regional differences and instead look at the examples we got in a more detailed way, distinguishing between prepositional complements that denote human beings, those denoting other

(predominantly more or less abstract) things (often words like outcome, decision, result, development etc.) and those consisting of finite (what- and how-) clauses or non-finite clauses. Here we find some differences in usage.

With about, the prepositional complements were equally frequently non-humant noun phrases, as in (5) and nonfinite clauses, as in (6).

(5) A spokesman for Eurotunnel said the company was "very disappointed" about the outcome of the arbitration

(...) (British newspaper)

(6) Graham Taylor will be desperately disappointed about losing Mark Wright much more so than about the other players he's lost recently. (British magazine)

There was only one example in the material with about in a phrase denoting a human being (7), and this construction could probably be interpreted as "disappointed regarding" rather than as "disappointed in/with etc.".

(7) "I'm not particularly disappointed about Rob", he said. (British newspaper)

The same applies with at, where the complements were either non-human NPs (more frequently), as in (8), or clauses (less frequently), as in (9). Here, no cases whatsoever of human NPs were found in the material.

(8) Boss, who reserved his plea, said he felt he was clear and was surprised and disappointed at the suspension.

(Australian newspaper)

(9) It was widely reported at the time that Mr. Baker had been disappointed at having to forfeit his image as a statesman and return to the grungy world of partisan politics (...) (American newspaper)s

In or with seem to be the prepositions to choose if we wish to talk about human beings (cf. the references to the

literature above), as in (10) and (11). There were also a few cases of by in combination with human noun phrases, as in (12).

(10) Faced with polls showing that three-quarters of French people disappointed in him, Mr Chirac said he would prepare France for return to economic prosperity and entry into a single European currency. (Australian newspaper)

(11) He thinks she would be disappointed with him if he did stick to the limit and so ignores the pleas.(British magazine)

(12) Campaigners were particularly disappointed by Mr Mandela, who arrived in Auckland yesterday. (British newspaper)

It is, however, the non-human noun phrase, as in (13), (14) and (15) that is the most common complement type in all three of these cases.

(13) 'We're very disappointed in the actions taken (...) (American book)

(14) In fact, John was disappointed with his performance against Lincoln in the Cup-tie. (British magazine)

(15) But she was disappointed by New York's buildings because she thought they would be taller. (British newspaper)

Clauses were rarely used with in, with and by. Examples (16), (17) and (18) are exceptions.

(16) Both were, of course, sorely disappointed in failing to win their last game for the club. (British magazine)

(17) "I think we're real disappointed with what romance really is", she said. (American newspaper)

(18) In fact, often they are quite disappointed by what happens (...) (British newspaper)

We should also keep in mind that there is a fifth construction type, where the prepositional complement consists of a finite that clause and the preposition is left out altogether, as in (19):

(19) Scotland will be desperately disappointed that the post-Hastings era began without a flourish. (British newspaper)

ME

6. Is it OK to leave out the preposition at in be/stay (at) home?

In this case, there is clear regional variation. Americans tend to leave out at more often than British people do, even though the construction without preposition is quite common in British English as well. We could further see that the construction without the preposition at was more frequent in speech than in writing, and also in the written material, quite a few of the examples come from reported dialogue (in interviews etc.). The construction without preposition thus seems more informal than the one with the preposition at. The following table shows some figures on distribution in British and American spoken and written sources.

at home home

British English spoken 135 58% 97 42% written 361 79% 97 21%

American English spoken 63 19% 273 81% written 229 33% 455 67%

Here are a few examples of the construction without preposition from our material:

(1) But I need to know cos I'll do a turkey if we're staying home. (spoken British English)

(2) Aside from housewives who are home during the day, many of the town's 20,000 residents work in Maale

Adummim (...) (written British English)

(3) This looked like either she wasn't home or she wasn't in. (spoken American English)

(4) Evenings, she tries to be home to read them a story. (written American English)

ME

7. In recent years I've noticed that many of my students use succeed to do something (instead of

succeed in doing something), and I was wondering whether this construction is used by natives as well?

It seems that the usage our subscriber asks about is rather an example of mixing two constructions up, viz.

manage to do and succeed in doing. The succeed to do construction was only found five times in the sixty-millionword corpus of American and British English that we looked at, compared to almost five hundred examples of

succeed in doing and three and a half thousand examples of manage to do. Here is one of the few examples of the succeed to do construction.

(1) If the United States will succeed to get it, I think the tension or friction or conflict between Japan and the

United States will be alleviated. (American radio)

In the second example (2), it seems that the writer has used the succeed to construction in order to avoid juxtaposing two ing-forms. A more appropriate alternative would of course have been to use manage instead, in order to avoid repetition.

(2) Armed with this knowledge you will have a better chance of succeeding to become a non-smoker. (British brochure)

We could thus clearly recommend non-natives to stick to the original constructions.

ME

8. Which construction is the most frequent: VERB + aside, to the side or to one side?

We looked at constructions with the verbs brush, leave, move, push, put, set, step, sweep, throw, toss and turn

(each one of which we found in at least two of the constructions) in a sixty-million-word corpus of English. It turned out that aside was many times more frequent than the other alternatives (in all the material), but it is also worth noting that there seems to be a difference between concrete and abstract situations. A great majority of the aside examples are used in abstract contexts, as in (1).

(1) The president pushed aside any consideration of using force to end the fighting. (American radio)

There were a few examples of to the/one side used for abstract situations, as in (2) and (3).

(2) But in the present trouble, in a severe crisis like this, this has slightly been brushed to the side for the moment, because there are just more immediate problems to be dealt with. (British radio)

(3) It has been pushed to one side by developments in the international division of labour, corporatism, the growing strength (and instability) of the state and the political co-optation of the working class. (British book)

Otherwise, to the side and to one side both seem to be used mainly in concrete situations, as in (4) and (5):

(4) Zelda turned to the side, opened her mouth, and shifted her hip. (American book)

(5) He stepped to one side and waited. (American book)

We should, however, remember that there were fairly few cases of to the/one side in the material. There were also quite a few examples of concrete use of aside, as in (6) and (7).

(6) "Welcome to Mongolia, Colonel", said the almond-eyed beauty in the black leather mini-skirt as she brushed

aside a lock of long black hair that hung over one eye. (British book)

(7) Armand pushed aside the cold coffee and placed his elbows on the table, his chin resting on his clenched fists. (British book)

With the verb move, the concrete meaning was in fact predominant even with aside:

(8) Walker moved aside to let him pass, and when their bodies touched the equation seemed different, all of a sudden, and vengeance seemed a hopeless remedy. (American book)

To conclude, it seems that aside is an expression we can choose comfortably in all situations, whereas to the/one

side is both less frequent and perhaps also more specialised.

ME

3. Useful websites

Getting the corpus into the classroom!

Have you been inspired by GramTime News and would like to try using language corpora in your own classroom?

Tim Johns (whom I listened to at a conference on corpora and language teaching in Austria last summer) is a well-known EFL teacher in England who has been working with corpora in his teaching for several years. On his website you will find a great deal of interesting stuff, especially examples of prepared exercises that can be used by students in the classroom, for instance, exercises on the use of articles, noun-verb agreement, hyponymy, antonymy and word formation. If you don't find Tim's own exercises useful, you might be inspired to create your own ones, using (if you're not already in possession of your own corpus) the free concordancing service from the

Cobuild corpus that I recommended in the last issue of GramTime News ( click here

). The site also includes a bibliography of literature on corpora and language teaching and links to other useful websites.

Tim Johns' data-driven learning page can be accessed at the following address: http://web.bham.ac.uk/johnstf/timconc.htm

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Uppsala: ASLA:s skriftserie. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, No. 33. (111-124)

·

––– . Forthcoming. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English.

Marco Modiano (ed.). Gävle: Gävle University Press.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: Gävle

University Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies 6, 1-16. Journal of Japan Association for English Corpus Studies. 1999.

·

–––. 1999c. Corpora and dictionaries. In The Perfect Learners' Dictionary. Lexicographica, Series Maior. Thomas

Herbst & Kerstin Popp (eds). .. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 1999.

·

–––. 1999d. Bidrag till Synpunkter på en svensk grammatik. Inlägg vid Svenska Akademiens grammatiksymposium 4-5 mars 1985, 69 -74. Stockholm: Norstedts.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter,

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in December 2001.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

03:3, December 2003

Welcome to the twenty-first issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Web tips

4. Competitions

5. GramTime publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

You may have wondered if we have disappeared, but here we are with a double Christmas issue. There has hardly been any snow yet in Småland, but we are still hoping for a white Christmas. In the meantime, we are practicing the Christmas greetings and the first of the two Christmas songs provided by our own clean-shaven

Santa, Magnus, in the very last of the usage notes.

Before that, you can get amazed and surprised at or by reading Maria's pieces on prepositions, an area she knows inside out, and on the constructions used after "the reason for". On a more lexical level, we learn about how disinterested and uninterested are used, if there is a difference in formality between "the last few years" and the "last couple of years", and how frequent the s-ended forms anyways, anywheres, nowheres and somewheres are.

Finally, we learn that Thatcher and Bush both use "she" about countries, at least their own, but that this usage is quickly becoming old-fashioned and formal, and, furthermore, that although there are evidences for the plural of the word evidence, this usage is not recommended.

And of course there is a web tip and the results from the two competitions in our latest issue.

Returning to the Christmas theme, we all wish you a really good one (and I apologize for Magnus' final quotation

- but as linguists we have to deal with all aspects of language…).

Hans Lindquist, editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. The adjectives amazed and surprised most often collocate with the preposition at, but I've also heard by being used in this function. Are there differences between them?

According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, amazed is always used with at, whereas surprised can be used with either at or by. No comments are given concerning possible differences, and the only example provided is one with at. We looked at some corpora containing spoken and written British and American English, and could first of all note that instances where the preposition at was used, as in (1) and (2), were about twice as frequent overall (211 tokens) as those with by (100 tokens), as in (3) and (4).

(1) He slapped his knee amazed at his own forgetfulness. (written BrE)

(2) Somehow, John was surprised at this, and hurt. (written AmE)

(3) I am absolutely amazed by your lack of courage because I had that lack of courage last time. (spoken BrE)

(4) I was surprised by the unenthusiastic response. (written BrE)

Looking at the material in more detail, we found that with most of the corpora, there was in fact an even greater predominance for the at form (up to 80%). The only case where by was somewhat more frequent was with

surprised in written British and American English. Here the by form was used in 39% and 45% of the cases respectively.

The most interesting finding, however, was the way amazed and surprised seem to differ in the way they combine with other parts of the sentence. Whereas amazed at and surprised at were frequently used both with noun phrases, as in (5) and (6), and subordinate clauses, as in (7) and (8), amazed by and surprised by almost exclusively preceded a noun phrase, as in (9) and (10).

(5) He stood amazed at Josephine's piercing cry (...) (written AmE)

(6) He seemed surprised at Brand's booming laugh. (written BrE)

(7) She was amazed at how cold her voice sounded. (written AmE)

(8) Claire had no idea how the next part began, but suddenly she and Walker were embracing, crushing one another tight, then breaking apart as if surprised at what they'd done. (American book)

(9) (...) your eye rests on each one in turn and you are delighted and amazed by their presence. (written BrE)

(10) Yeah, uh I was surprised by that. (spoken AmE)

There were only seven instances overall of amazed/surprised by in combination with a subordinate clause, as in

(11) and (12).

(11) You'll be amazed by how easy it is to turn out exciting graphics with Aldus freehand. (written BrE)

(12) I was very surprised by what we've learnt here (...) (spoken BrE)

This difference might be explained by the fact that the preposition by is used as a marker of a passive clause, the agent of which is typically a noun phrase rather than a clause. In most cases where amazed/surprised by occur, it would be possible to change the clause into an active one, as in (9a) and (10a).

(9') Their presence delights and amazes you.

(10') That surprised me.

ME

2. Is it correct English to say or write inside of and outside of ?

The standard prepositions are inside and outside, as in (1) and (2), but you also come across cases of complex prepositions, where an of has been inserted between the preposition and its complement, as in (3) and (4).

(1) Somewhere inside the building a high voice was singing in oddly accented English. (written BrE)

(2) If you're to ask people who live outside Europe where is their chosen destination over fifty per cent of them say Heathrow. (spoken BrE)

(3) Something inside of Lenny clicked. (written AmE)

(4) Finally I got out, just sat outside of the car. (spoken AmE)

It seems that the answer to the question whether the latter forms are accepted or not depends a great deal on what type of English you choose to look at, as is illustrated in the table.

Written British English Written American English Spoken British English Spoken American English

639 (98%) 513 (93%) 251 (97%) 100 (75%)

inside

10 (2%) 37 (7%) 8 (3%) 33 (25%)

inside of

930 (96%) 562 (86%) 480 (84%) 96 (53%)

outside

43 (4%) 89 (14%) 93 (16%) 86 (47%)

outside of

In our material of spoken and written British and American texts, we could first of all conclude that the form with

of was more frequent with outside than with inside. That pattern recurred in all the four corpora we looked at.

The complex prepositions were more frequent in American English than in British English and they were more frequent in spoken than in written English. The of form was particularly common in spoken American English, and in the case of outside, it was used in almost half of the cases.

In a study published a few years ago (Estling Vannestål 2001), I looked at factors influencing the choice of a prepositional variant in cases where there are two or more alternatives. The material analysed then showed a clear tendency towards more frequent use of outside of (compared to simple outside) when the noun phrase it preceded was abstract, as in (5), rather than concrete, as in (6).

(5) Outside of Western civilization, the anti-slavery effort was opposed and evaded, especially in the Islamic world. (written AmE)

(6) While it was refreshing to be with each other outside of a hospital room, there was an awkwardness and distance between them. (written BrE)

To sum up it seems that inside of and (particularly) outside of are acceptable in informal contexts, especially in

American English, and especially if the noun phrase it precedes is abstract, whereas, as a non-native speaker, one should perhaps be a bit cautious about using it in more formal writing, especially if it precedes a concrete noun.

3. Should I say What is the reason for him to leave now or What is the reason for him/his leaving

now ?

None of the construction types above were very frequent in the corpora that we looked at: 100 tokens in about

30 million words of spoken and written British and American English, but this small material still yielded some interesting information. First, the form with a to infinitive, as in (1) and (2), was about twice as common as the alternative with an ing form of the verb, as in (3) and (4).

ME

(1) There was no reason for Cecil to lie, and no reason for the anthropologists to lie in denying such a loss.

(written BrE)

(2) The final reason for us to pay close attention to physical development is that physical characteristics (...) have a significant influence on a child's self-concept. (written AmE)

(3) "Perhaps one reason for children being born little," he said painfully, "is so their parents can teach them to control themselves while they're small enough to be controlled." (written BrE)

(4) (...) since I would have looked after my comfort anyway, He desired that there be a reason for my doing so.

(written AmE)

Second, the ing form variant was more frequent in British than in American English. The third and most important observation was that the form with an infinite verb was mainly used in negative or restricting contexts, as in (5) and (6), whereas the variant with a verb in the ing form was the predominant alternative in other cases, illustrated by (7) and (8).

(5) There's no reason for an individual to keep them. (spoken BrE)

(6) (...), you may well think that there is little reason for language researchers to study the sounds or gestures of infants. (written AmE)

(7) He had finally got around to it last week – another reason for October being memorable. (written BrE)

(8) And the main reason for him going there when he first went what two three years ago was the fact that he would be there until school-leaving age (spoken BrE)

Also note that in the form with ing, the NP can either include a possessive pronoun/genitive noun or a personal pronoun/nominative noun (or anther pronoun such as anybody, that etc.). In the case of pronouns, all instances in the written material (also in dialogues) were possessive, as in (9), whereas all the pronouns in spoken English were personal, as in (10).

(9) There's going to have to be a good reason for your behaving towards me the way you have. (written BrE)

(10) (...) if you recall the m the reason for us going to Hong Kong was that we would learn Chinese (...) (spoken

BrE)

As for nouns, the material included seven instances of nominative nouns, as in (11), whereas only two cases were in the genitive form, as in (12).

(11) In nondysfunctional couples, one reason for sex losing its allure and creating desire discrepancies is that it simply becomes too routine. (written AmE)

(12) But the reason for Christina's leaving Howard was, as Klaus had said, rooted in a matter Germans preferred not to think about. (written BrE)

The use of possessives/genitive nouns vs. personal pronouns/indicative nouns in constructions with prepositions and verbs in the ing form will be a topic for discussion in a future issue of GramTime News.

ME

4. Does disinterested mean uninterested nowadays?

"Disinterested means impartial; uninterested means bored. However, this is another case where usage is forcing a change slowly, so that disinterested is more and more being used to mean 'uninterested'", John Peck and

Martin Coyle claim in The Student's Guide to Writing. Along similar lines, The Macquarie Dictionary gives two different meanings for disinterested. The first is "unbiased by personal involvement or advantage; not influenced by selfish motives", and the second is "uninterested", which is labelled "colloquial".

The different meanings are exemplified below. (1) - (3) contain the generally accepted meanings, and (4) - (6) are examples of 'uninterested'. (Note the slight difference between (1), which means 'impartial', and (3), where the meaning is 'not influenced by selfish motives'.)

(1) A solicitor's ability to give impartial and disinterested advice is a fundamental element of his or her relationship with you, the client. (written BrE)

(2) It is possible that yet another unique quality of man is a capacity for genuine, disinterested, true altruism.

(written BrE)

(3) It must be a disinterested liking on his part, since Sophie was neither a beauty nor an heiress, which was the more to his credit. (written BrE)

(4) His wife left him, he became increasingly disinterested in his work and he returned to Cornwall as a tramp.

(written BrE)

(5) Many women complain of feeling chronically tired, tied to the home, unattractive, disinterested in sex and generally overwhelmed during early parenthood. (written BrE)

(6) Here, there's your cookie. Here's your other cookie. Seems disinterested, doesn't he? Oh, he'll eat it…

(spoken AmE)

What were the results from our corpora? There were too few tokens of disinterested in speech and informal writing, so we cannot really say anything about differences in formality. However, the instances that we found in the British National Corpus comprised roughly eleven examples meaning "unbiased by personal involvement or advantage; not influenced by selfish motives" for every instance meaning "uninterested".

Therefore, although real misunderstandings would be rare if people continue to use disinterested to mean

uninterested, we recommend our interested readership to keep the distinction between the words, because, at least in writing, most native speakers still seem to maintain it.

ML

5. Is there a difference in formality between the quantifiers few and couple of in phrases such as in the last few/couple of years? I have a feeling that couple of is informal, but I can't find any information about it.

(1) to (4) exemplify the variation we are dealing with.

(1) "Talk more slowly," he said, in exasperation, after the first few seconds. (written BrE)

(2) I think things have changed quite dramatically in the last few years. (spoken BrE)

(3) I've been thirsty the past couple of days. (spoken BrE)

(4) During the next couple of weeks, important family discussions should be underway. (written BrE)

We looked at usage after the adjectives last, past and next and the numeral first in spoken BrE and AmE, written scientific BrE, "imaginative" BrE (mainly fiction) and the New York Times 1995 (NYT 95). As always, we should mention that the genres are not very "clean" in the corpora, since, for instance, the scientific category includes magazines about gardening and not too much hardcore science, and the imaginative category contains many texts which cannot be classified as fiction.

The results of our investigation are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Last/past/next/first followed by few or couple of + PLURAL NOUN in BrE and AmE.

few couple of

N % N % written scientific BrE 940 92% 87 8%

NYT 95

2092 89% 271 11% written imaginative BrE 1061 87% 152 13%

spoken BrE spoken AmE

351 72% 137 28%

63 48% 69 52%

The table shows that few is the preferred alternative in the three different written genres. Few is also the most frequent alternative in BrE speech, while the distribution is fairly even in AmE speech. The difference between BrE and AmE speech is probably influenced by the fact that our spoken BrE corpus contains more formal speech than the AmE one. An important conclusion is therefore that although our spoken AmE material contains the least formal language, couple is only used in half the tokens in that corpus.

Another point that we should mention is that as many as one in ten tokens of couple from NYT occurred without

of, as in (5) below. Svartvik & Sager mention in their university grammar that this sometimes occurs in "very colloquial" AmE.

(5) But most publishers say that they have seen increases in the last couple years. (written AmE)

To conclude, couple of seems to be less formal than few, since few is the much more frequent alternative in formal writing. We therefore recommend the use of few in writing. But as usual, the informal variant is appropriate in speech.

ML

6. How frequent are forms like anyways, anywheres, everywheres, nowheres and somewheres?

The various forms that we found are exemplified below.

(1) Revelations seem to be another way to make the days go faster anyways. (AmE rock song)

(2) Anyways, Bob Dole is a staunch Republican. (NYT 95)

(3) You stop anywheres along here? (written dialogue BrE)

(4) So if you've more than a mite of sense you'll point your base somewheres else. (written dialogue BrE)

(5) Don't I know you from somewheres? he asked. (written dialogue AmE)

Although these are non-standard forms they are given different labels, ranging from the neutral "dialectal" to the prescriptive "vulgar" and "illiterate" in The Oxford English Dictionary: anyways is "dialectal or illiterate",

anywheres is not mentioned at all, everywheres is "U.S. colloq. and dial. var", nowheres is "U.S. dial.", and

somewheres is "dialectal or vulgar". It is worth pointing out that similar variation between forms with -s and without -s can be found in standard varieties of English. For example, toward vs. towards is an area which our preposition expert Maria has looked into.

Now then, what did we find? The forms could only be found in colloquial speech, or written renderings of it.

Everywheres and nowheres were nowheres to be found in our material, and anywheres only occurred once.

Somewheres occurred a handful of times, mainly in AmE. The only frequent form was anyways. It only occurred a few times in BrE and written AmE, but there were no fewer than 125 instances in around 5 million words of spoken AmE.

(6) and (7) are additional examples of this "dialectal or illiterate" form.

(6) And, uh, anyways, so we were all walking along and talking (…)

(7) (…) when people ask me, I always tell them I'm not gonna marry you anyways.

To conclude, the forms ending in -s seem to be very marginal in present-day English. The only form that is in frequent use is anyways in spoken AmE.

ML

7. Should countries be treated as neutral (it) or feminine (she)?

Countries as political or economic units (not as geographic entities) can be treated either as neutral or feminine.

(Sports teams representing countries are, at least in BrE, referred to as they.) The different alternatives are exemplified in (1) to (4) below:

(1) It was therefore a time when Germany needed to boost her economy while Britain needed to stabilise hers.

(written BrE)

(2) Poland, too, is going to require tens of billions of dollars to rebuild its economy. (written BrE)

(3) On 11 November, 1918, the Armistice was signed between Great Britain and her Allies, and Germany.

(written BrE)

(4) For more than 40 years, America and its allies held communism in check, and ensured that democracy would continue to exist. (written BrE)

What does the literature say about the subject? Quirk et al in their Comprehensive Grammar of the English

Language (1985:318) claim that "[a]s political/economic units, the names of countries are often feminine" (italics added). This is echoed by Svartvik & Sager's university grammar, which, in its 1996 edition, also states that the names of countries are "often" (ofta) feminine. Interestingly, in the 1977 edition the suggestion was that countries were treated as feminine "most often" (oftast). Judging from the revision of the second edition of the grammar book, it seems likely that there is a change in progress with these pronouns.

These changing usage patterns were illustrated by Laurie Bauer in his book Watching English Change. He investigated editorials from The Times during the 20th century and found that while she was exclusively used at the beginning of the century, there had been a sharp decline in feminine pronouns, and at the end of the century,

it had taken over almost completely. Bauer ascribes the decrease in she to the growing "consciousness of sexism in formal language" (1994:148). Bauer also refers to an interview with the then British Prime Minister Margaret

Thatcher where she consistently used she in reference to countries. "Interestingly enough, it sounded rather oldfashioned, although this usage can still be heard from less obviously conservative speakers", Bauer (1994:149) adds.

Anne Curzan in her recent book Gender Shifts in the History of English notes that the style guide for AP press recommends it, and the same goes for the style guide for The New York Times. Style guides also recommend that

it be used with ships, instead of she. This is a question we discussed earlier in GTN ( 98:3

).

A further illustration of the shift from she to it can be illustrated by reading different books by the same British author. Antony Beevor, who has published a handful of books about World War II and the related period, used

she in an early work, and it in a more recently published one. Thus, in (5) from The Spanish Civil War from 1982

[2003] she is used, while in (6) from The Fall of Berlin 1945, published in 2002, the author uses it. Admittedly, this change may be affected by a change of publishing company, since different publishers may have different style guides, but it is nevertheless interesting to note that the change agrees with the general drift of the language.

(5) Spain had attracted foreign interest and intervention throughout her history. (1982 [2003]:158)

(6) Germany had fought on for as long and as bitterly as it did because the idea of defeat produced 'a conviction of total catastrophe'. (2002:415)

Our corpora provided clear results. We searched for the strings her/its economy and her/its allies in the British

National Corpus and found only 23 instances of feminine pronouns and around 160 (87%) neuter ones. The New

York Times from 1995 contained lots and lots of examples of its and only one single instance of her allies in a quotation.

Interestingly, the American President George W. Bush goes against the trend of using it instead of she. On quite a number of occasions I have heard him refer to his native country as she, as in (7). Examples like these indicate that Mr Bush is not only politically, but also linguistically conservative.

(7) America and her allies didn't want a war with Saddam, Bush noted. (AmE)

To conclude, then, we may encourage our readers to go with the flow and refer to countries as it, not she. It is definitely the most common alternative, it is becoming more frequent, and it is also what is recommended by prescriptivists. The next edition of Svartvik & Sager should therefore probably say that countries are rarely treated as feminine nowadays.

ML

8. I have taught English for many years and have always told my Swedish pupils that the English noun evidence is uncountable. But now I have found the plural evidences in a formal written text.

What should I tell my pupils?

To begin with, we should point out that we recently found the following striking example in Joseph Greenberg's

(1966:75) Language Universals with Special Reference to Feature Hierarchies:

(1) Similarly there are numerous evidences for a corresponding hierarchy for the descending generations.

(written AmE)

If one of the world's most influential linguists marks countability three times (plural -s, a plural verb and the adjective numerous) in formal edited language then we can hardly shrug off this phenomenon as something peripheral that only non-native speakers say and write.

We investigated this instance of possible variation by looking in dictionaries, in our corpora, and by carrying out a small informant study. The results from the dictionaries, the corpus study and the native speakers all point in one direction – the plural is best avoided.

To begin with, we looked in three different contemporary dictionaries and all of them treat evidence only as an uncountable noun. However, in the Oxford English Dictionary there were quite a few instances of plural usage.

Under evidence we find the following definitions: "Information, whether in the form of personal testimony, the language of documents or the production of material objects, that is given in a legal investigation, to establish the fact or point in question. Also, an evidence = a piece of evidence." "In religious language: Signs or tokens of personal salvation." The former, legal, meaning was hard to find, but (2) to (5) are examples of evidences in scientific contexts. Note that (4) also contains singular evidence. (6) exemplifies the religious sense of the word.

(2) These evidences may be "explained" (described) by a different representational model of a human being that may also be useful in other connections. (written BrE)

(3) Although the overall picture of the mother-infant dyad is very positive, from the outset of our therapy there

were evidences of a problem. (written BrE)

(4) We can disbelieve the evidences of our senses, we can suspend disbelief, as well as believing the world is such-and-such with no sensory evidence at all. (written BrE)

(5) Those of us who work for a living are left to ponder why, when we oppose unlimited immigration, it yet occurs; why, when we oppose the avoidance of intellectual training in schools, such policy continues; why, when it seems to us that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement will hurt our nationhood, they are yet rammed through without meaningful debate; and many similar evidences that the will of the citizenry is being contemptuously disregarded. (written AmE)

(6) He had undergone a course of instruction with Father Kipling: the evidences for the truth of the Catholic Faith were acceptable if one was disposed to accept them, and he was so disposed. (written BrE)

In all, our corpus searches provided only slightly more than forty evidences in 250 million words. These findings show that plural evidences is indeed very rare in contemporary English. It should also be added that those tokens that were found occurred almost exclusively in formal writing. This means that plural evidences can be seen as an old-fashioned feature that lingers on in some genres of conservative writing.

Finally, our small informal questionnaire with five native speakers provided a very clear result. All of them ranked

(1) above as "completely unacceptable", although one of them later admitted that he knew that evidences had been used in earlier periods of the language.

To conclude, the evidences at hand suggest that evidence is still sometimes used as a countable noun in Present-

Day English. But our advice is that you shouldn't tell pupils or students unless you really have to.

ML

9. Which is the more common greeting during this season: merry Christmas or happy Christmas?

Both alternatives are of course frequent, but there is also a third alternative, happy holidays, which can be used with the same meaning. The three possibilities are seen below in (1) to (3):

(1) Happy Christmas! (BrE)

(2) Merry Christmas you big bitch. (spoken AmE)

(3) We wish you happy holidays: may your computer escape viruses, may your telescope never break down (…)

(AmE)

It turned out to be difficult to search for this in our corpora, so we added a search on the Internet. One of the many problems was that certain Christmas songs (notably We wish you a merry Christmas) and various company names etc. probably skewed the figures a great deal.

The results are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Christmas greetings in BrE and AmE

BNCspok (spoken BrE)

BNCwritten (written BrE)

LSAC (spoken AmE)

.uk (British websites)

.edu (mainly American websites)

merry Christmas happy Christmas happy holidays

N

10

58

12

27600

13000

%

50

46

75

65

49

N

10

69

0

11600

953

%

50

54

0

27

4

N

0

0

4

3360

12700

%

0

0

25

8

48

The results should of course be taken with a pinch of salt, but they showed no clear regional patterns, apart from the fact that happy holidays seems to be a very common alternative in AmE. An interesting finding suggested by the material is that happy New Year tends to follow merry Christmas, but not happy Christmas, probably because speakers like to vary the adjectives.

We end our discussion of seasonal greetings by looking at two examples from fairly modern Christmas songs. (4) is from John Lennon's Happy Christmas (War is Over) where both merry Christmas and happy Christmas occur.

Merry Christmas occurs when it is followed by happy New Year. (5) is from the rather different song Fairytale of

New York by the Pogues.

(4) A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let's hope it's a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

For rich and the poor ones

The world is so wrong

And so happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red ones

Let's stop all the fight

(5) You scumbag

You maggot

You cheap lousy faggot

Happy Christmas you arse

I pray God

It's our last

We can safely wish our readers happy Christmas, merry Christmas and a happy New Year, or even happy

holidays!

ML

3. Web tips

Inspiring activities for your students!

If you want your students to practice reading authentic English and have various interesting topics to discuss, write about and use for listening comprehension, this is a website for you. The The Tower of English website, which is accessed at http://towerofenglish.com/ , offers 34 different subject areas (each containing a number of sites, most of which work, some of which don't), where your students can click their way to various websites and find inspiring activities for discussion and writing.

Try out, for instance:

movies: English Learner Movie Guides, where you rent a movie and download a movie guide that describes the plot and the characters and contains a long list of vocabulary, culture notes and questions for discussion

history: A White House History, where you can take a historical tour of the White House

poetry: Giggle Poetry, where you can read fun poems and practise writing your own

music: Beatles Lyrics, where you can find the lyrics to all the Beatles songs and work with listening and vocabulary

mysteries: practise your English at the same time as you solve a number of exciting mysteries

The Tower of English is a way for students at various levels to use the Internet as a fun and inspiring learning resource, and the various activities suggested may also inspire you to making your own activities of the same kind with other types of material.

ME

4. Results of the competitions

In our last number we invited our readers to take part in two competions. We must admit that the response was not overwhelming – only two people sent in answers – but still we are proud to present a winner for each competition.

In the first one, where we asked you to suggest English translations for some Swedish words, the winner is Birgit

Håkansson from Hässleholm, who suggested the following translations:

resfeber - have the jitters slickepott - doughscraper hurtbulle - fitness freak maxtaxa- maximised fee

We will send you a copy of Jan & Richard Svartvik's Handbok i engelska.

A copy of that book will also be sent to Marianne Sandberg from Växjö, who found the answers to the questions on things we have discussed in previous issues of GramTime News. Here are the correct answers.

1. The more common greeting phrase in present-day spoken British English is still hello, even though hi seems to

be gaining ground. ( GTN 03:1

)

2. The figurative meaning of at the end of the day is 'all things considered'. ( GTN 01:1 )

3. It is generally not OK to say who of.( GTN 99:4

)

4. The preferred preposition in combination with the word lecture is on. ( GTN 01:2

)

5. The author of Language and the Internet, reviewed in GramTime News, is David Crystal. (

GTN 03:1 )

6. The Swedish experession ha det bra is not translated into have it good except with an adverb (mainly so) inserted in the expression have never had it so good, which is mainly used in British English. (

GTN 01:2 )

7. The definite article is only left out before abbreviations such as EU and USA in listings, headlines and formulaic expressions such as made in USA. (

GTN 98:3 )

8. The new title Ms about women is more frequent in writing than in speech. ( GTN 00:2

)

9. On Tim Johns' homepage you can read about how to use language corpora in your teaching. ( GTN 01:3

)

10. The story behind the expression the full monty is said to be that General Montgomery, during World War II, always demanded a complete English breakfast, even on the battlefield. It now means 'everything, the whole lot'.

(

GTN 98:1 )

5. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English.

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in February 2004.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

05:2, June 2005

Welcome to the twenty-seventh issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editor: Magnus Levin , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Book tip

4. Web tip

5. GramTime Publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

I don't think that there are many among(st) our readers who will be surprised that this Midsummer issue misses

Midsummer by a few days - just like our Easter issue missed Easter. But here we are, with articles about the filling in/out of forms, the choice between be/become and among/amongst and the construction prefer…than from

Maria and essays on the good old split infinitive and the choice between Christian name, first name, given name and forename from Magnus.

Maria's web tip this time is about etymology and the history of the English language. Fascinating stuff, and so is also the information about the secret lives of the English given away in the book Watching the English by the anthropologist Kate Fox that you can read about in the Book tip.

Fox mentions a number of "rites of passage". First of all the individual ones: hatchings, matchings and

dispatchings (apparently Church of England vicar slang for births, weddings and funerals), and second the calendrical ones, among which the English May Day with its Maypole hardly gets a mention. According to Fox, more carnival-like events (like our Midsummer)…

"…involve a degree of 'cultural remission' - a conventionalised relaxation of social controls over behaviour.

Behaviour which would normally be frowned upon or even explicitly forbidden (i.e. promiscuous flirting, raucous singing, cross-dressing, jumping in fountains, talking to strangers, etc.) may, for the duration of the festivities, be actively encouraged."

We wish all our readers a happy cultural remission!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 and 2000

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Do you fill in or fill out a form?

This is a case where prepositional constructions look different in British and American English (one of my favourite subjects, as you probably know by now!). According to dictionaries and books about regional variation,

fill in is used in British English, whereas fill out is the American variant. What our corpora can contribute is frequency information: telling us whether the regional difference is absolute or if American ever use fill in and

British people fill out. Furthermore, are both forms used with all kinds of different objects following the verb phrase?

We used the Cobuild Direct corpus of British and American English and the Longman Spoken American Corpus and found, in addition to form, many other things that could be filled in/out. These can be categorised in the following way:

Table 1. Types of objects occurring after fill in/out.

Type of object Examples of words

Concrete things to write on card, cheque, form, sheet, voucher

Ellipted compounds

agreement, application, evaluation, questionnaire, survey

Parts of forms etc.

Contents

Holes

What you put in holes

box, gap, line, section, square address, details, information, name, things hole, trench dirt

The first group comprises nouns that denote concrete things to write on, as in (1) and (2).

(1) But you must fill in the appropriate form. (British conversation)

(2) Just fill out the form to the right and mail it to the address listed. (American brochure)

Group 2 resembles the first one, but here the words are more abstract and could be regarded as ellipted compounds, illustrated in (3) and (4), where the ellipted word would be a noun such as form or sheet.

(3) Whilst filling in the questionnaire, bear in mind the following. (British brochure)

(4) You can come in and fill out an application if you'd like. (American conversation)

Some of the words in this group, e.g. application, also occur in such compound forms (application form). The words in the third group denote a part of the thing you fill/in out, as in (5) and (6).

(5) I mean can you fill in those gaps if you will? (British conversation)

(6) Fill out Section b. (British brochure)

The fourth group comprises words that refer to the contents, i.e. what you actually write in the form etc, as in (7) and (8).

(7) It says will you please fill in these details about your house. (British conversation)

(8) You want all this, do they have to fill out all this stuff? (American conversation)

Besides nouns, this group also includes whole clauses, as illustrated in (9) and (10).

(9) I'll just fill in that you don't always go the whole length. (British conversation)

(10) I told him you know to fill out that he's white... (American conversation)

Finally, there are two groups including concrete words like hole and trench, as in (11), and the things you can fill in them, as in (12).

(11) How many of the trenches were filled in by then? (British conversation)

(12) ... and they had part of it down and just filled in dirt and then there was at least two bags of concrete...

(American conversation)

The first thing we can learn from our corpus results is something that we have found over and over again and reported on in GramTime News: that regional differences are seldom absolute, i.e. that "American" forms also occur in British English and vice versa, even though the majority of instances follow the British/American principle. The British form, fill in, was more frequent in the American material than the American form, fill out, was in the corpora of British English:

(13) He took out his pen and filled in a form he'd picked out of the manila folder. (American book)

(14) Before you call, please fill out our order form, and have your credit card and expiry date handy. (British brochure)

Furthermore, as you could see from the examples above, it seems that both fill in and fill out can be used with almost all the different types of objects in the categories above. There were no instances of fill out in combination the words trench, hole and dirt, which could indicate that fill in is preferred in such cases. On the other hand, there were very few sentences including these words.

Summing up, here is a case where we can safely say: go for the preposition that you prefer, but be aware of the regional difference!

ME

2. I have noticed the construction prefer ... than + a noun phrase where I would instead expect

prefer ... rather than + a non-finite verb phrase. Does this form occur in your corpora?

One of our subscribers has observed sentences with rather left out from constructions with prefer ... than and an expected non-finite verb phrase, replaced by a simple noun phrase, as in (1).

(1) Even though cars crowd the roads, the public shows its contempt for rail travel by preferring to risk a traffic

jam than a train.

We would expect something like "preferring to risk a traffic jam rather than taking a train." So, what do our corpora say? Can we find instances of this construction there? We used the Cobuild corpus, the Longman spoken

American corpus and The Independent and The New York Times from 2000.

This is a really complex question, since the spotted construction has (a) rather left out, (b) a non-finite verb phrase (in this case taking a train) replaced by a noun phrase (in this case a train) and (c) an ellipsis that results in a strange combination of verb and noun phrase (risk and a train).

First of all, we found quite a lot of instances (in all the corpora investigated) where rather was left out from constructions with prefer, as in (2) and (3), even though instances where it occurrs, as in (4) and (5), were in the majority.

(2) And most Texans would prefer to have a president from Texas than fight about party politics. (The New York

Times)

(3) I would prefer to see them taking a chance on a coach than plumping for the proven Henry. (The

Independent)

(4) Some people prefer to exercise at home, rather than join a club or gym. (British book)

(5) He chooses these days to give the club a wide berth despite many offers to play there because he prefers to be heard rather than just seen. (Australian newspaper)

Second, there were also a number of cases where than was followed by a noun phrase, as in (6) and (7), a prepositional phrase, as in (8) and (9), or an adjective phrase, as in (10) and (11), rather than by a verb phrase.

In the examples we found, this was a natural process, since otherwise, the verb phrase would be unnecessarily repeated:

(6) People prefer taking the Stena Sealink to France, say, than an Easyjet from Luton to Nice because they don't like leaving the earth. (The Independent)

(7) On sheer material grounds one would almost surely prefer to be poor today than upper middle class a century ago. (The New York Times)

(8) And second, speaking for all sportswriters, I would much prefer to be bored in Venice than in San Diego.

(American radio)

(9) Mr Blair has presumably calculated that he would prefer to be attacked by Conservatives than by his own

party. (British newspaper)

(10) At the peak of the programme's success in 1989 he left television saying he would prefer to be "medium rich" and happy than wealthy and miserable. (Australian newspaper)

(11) They prefer to be Right than electable. (The Independent)

Another kind of ellipsis occurred when the preposition was omitted after than in a construction with a prepositional phrase, as in (12) and (13). In both these cases in was left out after than.

(12) Ms Mowlam said that she preferred living in London than the countryside and revealed that she did not get up early enough in the morning to listen to the radio programme Farming Today. (The Independent)

(13) I prefer to be in the bunker than some of this thick grass around here, though I played some good shots from there as well. (Australian newspaper)

We did not, however, find any instances like the one presented by our subscriber, where the ellipsis of a verb phrase results in two incompatible units (the verb risk and the noun phrase a train in the above-mentioned example sentence). In example (14), however, we find a construction that sounds somewhat strange, and we would perhaps have expected a clarifying verb phrase after than (probably being).

(14) She knew that I was with a man, Maryam said, but would have preferred I was with him illegally than his

sigheh. (The New York Times)

Sentence (14) is similar to (12) and (13), but there is a difference. Example (14) is a coordination of two different kinds of predicatives: a prepositional phrase, with him illegally, and a noun phrase, his sigheh (which refers to a Muslim tradition where you can be temporarily married to someone and thus have sex before the proper marriage). Examples (12) and (13), however, combine two different kinds of adverbials (a prepositional phrase, in London/in the bunker, and a noun phrase, the countryside/some of this thick grass). This type sounds like a more natural construction, and it occured a few times in the corpus material whereas the combination in

(14) occurred only once.

Another unusual type of coordination is exemplified in (15):

(15) ... in fact I felt that I would prefer to lose the money myself than that General F. should be pressed for it.

(British book)

Here a non-finite verb phrase (to lose...) is combined with a finite clause (that General F. should be...).

Finally, remember that a construction with prefer X to X is often used:

(16) I prefer museums to art galleries; very little contemporary work interests me. (British newspaper)

This construction occurred much more often together with two noun phrases than with two verb phrases in the corpus material.

In conclusion, the most important information we gained from this little investigation is that skipping rather in constructions with prefer ... than seems to be perfectly OK.

ME

3. Is it OK to use the verb become instead of be before adjectives like amazed and surprised?

A typical difficulty for Swedish learners of English is that the Swedish verb bli corresponds both to be and become in English, and these words are used in different context in English. The university grammar by Svartvik & Sager tells us that become is used when we talk about a change or development, as in (1):

(1) No one piglet will become famous as the star of Babe, because 48 were used. (British newspaper)

Be, however, is used in some other cases where the corresponding Swedish verb is bli: when be does not refer to a change, as in (2), in passive clauses, as in (3), and before words like amazed and surprised, as in (3).

(2) The operation was a success, but the patient died. (American radio)

(3) Three years ago the FA set a precedent when they fined and suspended Arsenal's Paul Davis for nine games after he was caught by video evidence. (British tabloid)

(4) George was surprised that they all took it so calmly. (British book)

Swedish students sometimes use become instead of be, and the question is: how strict is the rule in the last of these cases? Do native speakers ever say or write become surprised? We looked in the 56-million-word Cobuild corpus and found a total of 2296 instances of BE (am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been) before the adjectives

amazed, astonished, astounded, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, shocked and surprised, illustrated in (5) to (11).

(5) Sometimes, she was amazed by the amount of feelings sloshing about inside her. (American radio)

(6) Mrs Smith was astonished when proud Leigh announced the baby was a perfect little girl who'd been born at home. (British tabloid)

(7) Many people are astounded to find that love doesn't sustain itself effortlessly. (American book)

(8) Mr One Floor Below was dumbfounded when he saw what was REALLY going on and stormed out swearing to get us on a technicality. (Australian newspaper)

(9) President Bush's advisers had been flabbergasted. (American book)

(10) Wisconsin's secretary of natural resources, Buzz Besagne, says he was shocked by what he saw. (American radio)

(11) I was surprised that you'd left him behind. (British books)

The corpus did not, however, contain one single instance of become in combination with these words. We got the same result when we some looked into other corpora as well: the Longman spoken American corpus and The New

York Times and The Independent from 2000. The 100-million-word British National Corpus indeed included three instances:

(12) Indeed, looking back over the years, I have become surprised, not that people murder each other but that, given our love of bloodshed, they don't do it more often. (written material)

(13) Hearing that Jesus became amazed and said to those following him, I tell you the truth but no one in Israel have I faced to a greater face so that's quite some statement that Jesus has made. (spoken material)

(14) He stopped dictating to take a phone call and I saw his face become shocked, then very grave. (written material)

In the last example, become seems rather natural, since the sentence expresses a change in progress.

There were also thousands of instances of become in combination with surprised, amazed etc. on the Internet.

The problem of the Internet, however, is of course that we can never be sure how many of these were written by native speakers. Consequently, as non-native speakers of English it seems better to stick to the form that we know is generally accepted.

ME

4. How frequent is amongst in present-day English?

If we look up amongst in the dictionary, it is presented within the entry for among, but none of the dictionaries we consulted (Longman dictionary of contemporary English, Oxford advanced learner's dictionary, Collins Cobuild

dictionary of the English language and Cambridge international dictionary of English) provide any further information about the relative frequencies of these two prepositions.

So, obviously we need our corpora. First of all, amongst is, as expected, much less frequent than among overall.

For instance, in our 56-million-word Cobuild corpus, there were almost 12,000 instances of among compared to just over 1,000 amongst. We compared British and American subcorpora in Cobuild (radio conversation, books and brochures) and British conversation in Cobuild with American conversation in the Longman corpus, and found that there was also a very clear regional difference, in that amongst was much more frequent in BrE than in AmE.

This fact is not mentioned in any of the dictionaries we consulted. In his book English prepositions explained, however, Seth Lindstromberg provides the following comment: "Amongst is an occasional British variant of

among. To me it also sounds slightly more literary" (p. 94).

Table 1. Occurrences (per million words) of amongst in the Cobuild corpus

Radio Books Brochures Conversation

amongst

British American British American British American British American

46 8 38 4 45 3 26 14

The table shows that amongst was more frequent in all the different kinds of British material compared to the

American material. The same trend recurs in the year 2000 editions of The Independent and The New York

Times. There were tens of thousands of examples of among in both papers, but only 137 amongst in NYT compared to 480 in IND:

(3) The pervading mentality amongst the players and the organization would be that in this situation Ray Lewis was wronged. (NYT)

(4) Last night, the Lamplugh family, which set up a trust to campaign for safety amongst professional workers, said they were "delighted" the police investigation was producing results. (IND)

In addition, many of the occurrences in The New York Times were formulaic in character, so if these were left out we would end up with even fewer instances:

(5) May the entire family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. (The New York Times)

We could also see from the table that in the British material, amongst was less frequent in the conversation corpus than in written text and radio material (which could be expected to be slightly more formal). Looking more closely at the instances of amongst in the conversation corpora, we can further observe that many instances, especially in the British corpus, occur in rather formal contexts, as in (6) and (7), i.e. not so often in ordinary every-day conversation, as in (8) and (9).

(6) And in amongst all this of course was the assessment of the weight of teaching and eventually er instead ...

(British conversation)

(7) Before you go any further you ought to actually do some market research amongst all the various groups that you want to get at. (British conversation)

(8) I think the, they just kind of, they live amongst themselves. (American conversation)

(9) We had this really, really good and we had four bowls amongst three of us and I was just like wow, wow.

(American conversation)

As a learner of English it could be useful to know that amongst is seldom used in informal spoken language, especially not in American English, so using it in a bar conversation in the US may not be a very good idea.

ME

5. The split infinitive is one of those features that are disliked by prescriptivists. To what extent can it be recommended to learners?

To split an infinitive or not to (to not) split an infinitive, that is the question. Splitting an infinitive means to insert something (usually an adverb) between the infinitive marker to and its verb, as in (1) (instead of to get on my

bike very quickly indeed), while the prescriptivists' preferred alternative is to put the adverb elsewhere, as in (2)

(instead of to now think):

(1) [...] of course I had to very quickly indeed get on my bike and bring in all the money to set this centre up.

(bbc)

(2) It's hard now to think of East Berlin as the real Berlin [...]. (npr)

According to David Crystal's Encyclopedia of the English Language (2003:45), condemnation of the split infinitive did not start until the middle of the 19th century. One of the main reasons for the avoidance of the split infinitive was that an infinitive could not be split in Latin. However, the application of a rule for Latin on English has been criticized by, among others, the "pop linguist" Bill Bryson, who has argued that "[m]aking English grammar conform to Latin rules is like asking people to play baseball using the rules of football. It is a patent absurdity" (1991:128). Modern grammarians are more tolerant towards the split infinitive than their predecessors. For instance, Quirk et al (1985:497) point out that the split infinitive can avoid ambiguity, as illustrated in (3) and (4):

(3) His hardest decision was to not allow the children to go to summer camp.

(4) His hardest decision was not to allow the children to go to summer camp.

Example (4) could easily be interpreted as 'To allow the children to go to summer camp was not his hardest decision'" (1985:497).

Current usage of the split infinitive was investigated by one of our students, Vera Kurth, in her C-essay. Her material consisted of the following sub-corpora from the CobuildDirect corpus: UK spoken, NPR (Am. radio), BBC

(Br. radio), The Sun (Br. tabloid) and The Times (Br. broadsheet). As regards overall frequency, two clear results emerged, as illustrated in Table 1:

Table 1. Proportions of split infinitives per 10,000 infinitives in the sub-corpora

UK spoken

Split infinitives per 10,000 infinitives

132

91

NPR

34

The Sun

BBC

The Times

32

13

First of all, split infinitives were much more frequent in speech than in writing and more frequent in informal writing than in formal writing, which seems reasonable in view of the fact that prescriptive rules usually have far greater influence on writing than on speech. Secondly, the split infinitive seems to be more common in AmE than in BrE, since it was almost three times more frequent in NPR than in BBC. (Additional material from The New York

Times supported this finding.)

Kurth found that several factors influence the use of the split infinitive and we will briefly discuss some of them here. First of all, the split infinitive was frequent in constructions with "unsplittable" verb phrases such as have to,

be going to or want to. This is illustrated in (5) and (6), where it would seem to be almost impossible to split

have to constantly into have constantly to and want to just into want just to.

(5) We have to constantly encourage the parents to push their children to attend schools [...]. (npr)

(6) Do you want to just take a seat a minute. (ukspok)

Furthermore, moving the adverb later in the sentence would create ambiguity: to encourage the parents

constantly to push… .

The ten most common infinitive-splitting adverbs were actually, just, really, even, not, finally, then, always, now and fully. Some of them were frequent because they are frequent overall in the language. However, in a comparison between the position before and after the infinitive marker to, actually and finally produced the largest proportions of split infinitives. These two adverbs are exemplified in both split and non-split contexts in

(7) to (10). Note in particular the avoidance of a split infinitive in (10) where finally has been inserted between the "unsplittable" ought and to in formal BrE writing.

(7) [...] it's very difficult for us to actually look at the whole model in a single instant. (bbc)

(8) [...] but what Prince Charles is doing is what we all wish we had the courage to do which is actually to look at the building and say that's bloody ugly, isn't it? (ukspok)

(9) Dr Abddel-Meguid said other Israeli deeds were now necessary to finally establish peace in the region. (bbc)

(10) It ought finally to lay to rest the popular belief that still lingers here and there [...]. (times)

An important factor influencing the use of the split infinitive is that it often sounds "neater" than the non-split alternative, as Crystal (2003:195) puts it. Adverbs occurring in split position tend to contain more than one syllable, and therefore, according to Kurth, a split infinitive can be seen as "an attempt to achieve the best possible balance between unstressed and stressed syllables". This is demonstrated in (11) below, where the split infinitive produces an alternation between stressed and unstressed syllables:

(11) to réally gét vs. réally to gét

A final aspect relevant to the distribution of the split infinitive is when splitting is affected by the principle of endfocus, i.e. the fact that we usually put the most important information towards the end of a clause. This is illustrated in (12a) and (12b):

(12a) [...] but you're not going to fully enjoy sex when you're under strain (…). (The Sun)

(12b) [...] but you're not going to enjoy sex fully when you're under strain (…).

The split infinitive in (12a) allows the focus to fall on sex, while in (12b) the focus is on the adverb fully, that is the extent to which sex is enjoyed, rather than the sex itself. Thus the information structure can be varied with the use of the split infinitive.

What advice can we give to learners as a conclusion? Overall, Kurth feels that learners do not need to be afraid of using the split infinitive, and argues that we may "proceed with caution but not in fear" (Morris 1975 quoted in

http://dianahacker.com/writersref/subpages_language/splitinf.html).

ML

6. What is the most common term for Swedish förnamn - first name, given name, Christian name or

forename?

According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, there are some indications that the alternatives are not entirely equivalent. First name seems to be the most stylistically and regionally neutral term, given name is more typical of AmE, Christian name is "especially AmE", and forename is "formal". Examples of the four alternatives from The New York Times (AmE) and The Independent (BrE) can be seen below:

(1) The format derived from self-help groups where participants identify themselves by first names only and share their experiences. (NYT 1990)

(2) The Serbian hardline communist leader, Slobodan Milosevic (whose given name means free) has launched a housing plan to draw Serbian settlers. (Ind 1990)

(3) This Morse, with his love of Puccini, his mastery of crossword puzzles, his connoisseurship about pubs and ales, his red Jaguar, his rejection of a Christian name, is not so much a character as an assemblage of affectations. (NYT 1990)

(4) Jacob's forename is no accident. (Ind 2000)

An important point to bear in mind when considering the raw frequencies in this study is that very many names are not "Christian" names. This was reflected in some of the cases where Christian name(s) occurred, as illustrated in (5). In this example, as in some others Christian name(s) is not simply used meaning, erm, first name, but rather as a contrast to non-Christian names.

(5) Komi and Pita are stuffed into proper Christian clothes and given the proper Christian names Amelia and

Abraham. (NYT 1990)

It might by hypothesized that the use of Christian name is on the decrease since an increasing awareness of other religions than Christianity could make people avoid using a term that is associated with one particular religion. Because of the potential change in this area we decided to investigate usage in the two newspapers both in 1990 and 2000, as presented in Table 1. An additional search in the Longman Spoken American Corpus yielded

116 first name(s), 2 given name(s) and 1 Christian name(s).

Table 1. The use of first name(s), given name(s), Christian name(s) and forename(s) in NYT 1990 and

2000 and Ind 1990 and 2000

NYT 1990 NYT 2000 Ind 1990 Ind 2000

N % N % N % N %

151 87 196 83 77 66 141 73 first name(s)

18 10 38 16 3 3 5 4 given name(s)

Christian name(s)

5 3 3 1 35 30 34 17

0 0 0 0 1 1 12 6 forename(s)

174 100 237 100 116 100 192 100

Totals

The results indicate that first name is clearly the most frequent both in speech and in writing. Forename is very rare. Given name is not very frequent, but as expected the material suggests that it is more common in AmE than in BrE. As for Christian name, The New York Times may either be more "politically correct" than The

Independent in avoiding this term, or the classification of Christian name as typically AmE in the dictionary does not hold true any more. Interestingly, there is some indication that the proportion of Christian name is decreasing in Ind.

To conclude, first name seems to be both the least formal and the most frequent term and can be recommended as the first choice for learners. Those who want to find out more about the difference between surname, last

name and family name will have to wait until the next issue.

ML

3. Book tip

Fox, Kate. 2004. Watching the English. The hidden rules of English behaviour. London: Hodder. 424 pp. GBP 7.99.

Part of the joy of studying a language is to try and understand more about the peculiarities of its speakers - since it is certainly the case that many of the quirks of the British, the Americans, the Australians and many other peoples around the globe have influenced the English language. At the heart of it all are of course the English themselves, and in this book the social anthropologist Kate Fox sets out to study her own compatriots, using established field methods. About one fourth of the book actually deals with the use of (mainly spoken ) language with chapters on weather talk, gossip, humour, linguistic class codes, pub talk and the mobile phone.

In the weather chapter and in many others one is struck both by similarities and differences between, for instance, British and Swedish customs. Fox notes that, of course, an utterance like "Ooh, isn't it cold?" isn't about the weather at all but rather means: "I'd like to talk to you - will you talk to me?" And therefore, it's not very polite to answer "No I don't think so" even if that's what you think. In this chapter I was very happy to read that many British radio listeners are devoted to the Shipping Forecast: "South Utsire, Fisher, Dogger, German Bight…" since I myself like listening to the poetry of the Swedish Sjöväderrapporten: "Syd Utsira, Fiskebankarna, Dogger,

Tyska bukten…"

When it comes to gossiping and bonding, Fox underlines the British feeling for privacy and distance but also reports many differences between male and female gossip which I believe hold true for Swedish gossips as well.

Females bond through ritual exchanges of compliments, while men put each other down according to the formula

"Mine's better than yours" where "mine" can be "anything: a make of car, a football team, a political party, a holiday destination, a type of beer, a philosophical theory". Think about it - does this sound only English, or does it hold for your culture as well?

On the whole, Fox claims that one thing typical of the English is their social ineptitude and embarrassment. On way of overcoming or hiding this is humour: The importance of not being earnest. Irony and understatement rules!

The English are famous for their linguistic class consciousness, and according to Fox there are still many words that give you away as belonging to this or that class. This gives quite an amusing illustration of our basic human need to categorize everything in the world, including our fellow humans. For instance, what do you say if you didn't quite hear what somebody said? Here's the answer according to Fox:

Upper class: What?

Upper-middle: Sorry?

Lower-middle/middle-middle: Pardon?

Working class: What? (or Wha'?)

Lower-middle-class suburbs are sneeringly called "Pardonia", and that's also where the inhabitants wipe their mouths with a serviette when the upper-middle and upper classes use a napkin, and sit on settees while the upper-middle and upper classes sit on sofas. On the whole, and in many other aspects (like keeping your house or car clean and tidy!) the upper classes and the working classes don't bother, while the aspiring sections of the middle classes fret over all kinds of social rules.

In the rest of the book, behaviour codes relating to the home, the road, the workplace, leisure time, dress, food,

sex and rites of passage (like weddings) are described and explained in often entertaining and illuminating ways.

In the end, Fox tries to define Englishness, which she claims is characterized by "social dis-ease" (i.e. uneasiness). Reflexes of this are humour, moderation and hypocrisy. Typical values are fair play, courtesy and modesty while typical outlooks are empiricism, Eeyorishness (cf. Pooh's pessimistic friend Eeyor) and classconsciousness. No big surprises then, but if you can bear with a somewhat chatty, verbose and repetitive writing style, this book will give you many occasions to smile and recognize (and better understand) the behaviour of

English people you have met.

HL

4.

Web tip

Interested in the history of English?

As we all know, the English language is an extremely rich one, with millions and millions of words, many of which have been borrowed from other languages, such as French, Latin and the Scandinavian languages spoken by the

Vikings. If you are interested in learning about the origins of English words, Online Etymology Dictionary is the perfect website for you. You will find it at: http://www.etymonline.com/

For instance, looking up a few of the words that have occurred in this issue of GramTime News we can learn the following:

... that survery was first attested in 1548, and comes from Old French surveeir, which in turn comes from

Latin supervidere "oversee"

... that gap was first attested in 1261, comes from Old Norse gap "chasm" and originally meant "hole in a wall"

... that flabbergast was first attested in 1772, and is likely to be an arbitrary formation from flabby or

flapper and aghast

... that dumbfound was first attested in 1653, and comes from from dumb and confound

... that prefer was first attested in 1388, and comes from Latin præferre "place or set before, carry in front"

... and finally that corpus was first attested 1390, and comes from Latin "body", and that the meaning which we use here, i.e. "collection of facts or things", was first attested in 1727

Perhaps this website could be used to have the students work with the history of the English language in a more exploratory way.

If you want to learn more about the history of English, there is a collection of useful links called History of the

English language, which you can access at: http://ebbs.english.vt.edu/hel/hel.html

In this website, you will find information about and well-known texts from different periods in the history of

English, a guide to Old English and much more.

ME

5.

GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

–––. 2004. Syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases with all, whole, both and half. Växjö: Acta

Wexionensia (diss.).

·

–––. 2004. Värsta språket på engelska - om variation och förändring i modernt engelskt språkbruk.

Smålandsposten 29/5 2004.

·

–––. Forthcoming. A university grammar of English with a Swedish perspective. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English (diss.).

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Maria Estling Vannestål. Forthcoming. Fatigue fatigue: The spread and development of a vogue word in

British and American English.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2005.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-11-24

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

04:1, April 2004

Welcome to the twenty-second issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Variation in the use of English quantifiers

4. Web tips

5. GramTime publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

As the poet has it, "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley", and true enough our production scheme is slightly a-gley. But here, at last, is our delayed spring issue, our post-Easter Egg full of wholesome goodies. And it's high time, too, you may say. In order to help you say that correctly, Maria Estling Vannestål has looked into the construction in question. And she will also aid you in expressing your anger with/at us, or about/ over the late publication.

Magnus Levin, perhaps unconsciously inspired by Burns (or Steinbeck?), in his contributions actually deals with mice, i.e. computer mice (or mouses) and men, i.e. mankind (or humankind). Magnus also notes with pride that

the expression "at the end of the day", dealt with thoroughly by him in an earlier issue of GTN ( 01:1 ), has been

voted as the most irritating phrase in the language by the readers of the Plain English web site ( http://www.

plainenglish.co.uk/pressrelease.html

), a site that contains lots of interesting reading.

Finally, you can enjoy a Reader's Digest version of Maria's PhD dissertation which just went to print (I had to read the long version) and some useful web tips.

To end on a happier note than that of the opening quotation, let's remember what Vladimir Nabokov once wrote about Cambridge – it probably holds for the part of the world where you, dear reader, dwell too – : "Spring and summer did happen in Cambridge almost every year."

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Which verb form is the most frequent one after expressions like it's (high) time: past tense, present tense, infinitive etc.?

After the expression it's/it is high time, the past tense form of the verb, as in (1), is often said to be the most correct complement. At least this is usually the form given in dictionaries and grammar books.

(1) It's high time we had some answers. (...) (British newspaper)

In an article on high time by Minugh & Lavelle (in Lindquist et al, The Major Varieties of English, 1998), it was pointed out, however, that even though the past tense form was the predominant variant in their material

(newspaper corpora), there are also other possibilities, mainly a to-infinitive, as in (2), but also a direct equivalent to the Swedish construction, that is a verb in the present tense, as in (3), and (more rarely) a subjunctive, as in (4).

(2) The appreciation and variety of food available in Britain today are greater than ever before, so it is high time to have a major event where the culinary arts can be properly disseminated. (British magazine)

(3) Fare increases aside, it's high time cyclists get the priority, respect and encouragement we deserve.

(American newspaper)

(4) It is high time that serious thought be given to this important matter (...) (Australian newspaper)

The forms exemplified in (2) and (3) were found to be much more frequent in the American than in the British newspaper material used for the corpus study.

We looked at two other expressions, it's/it is time and it's/it is about time, to see whether we would get similar results with these. The material used was The Independent and The New York Times, both from 1995. As for it's

time, the picture was very different from that presented by Minugh & Lavelle in that an infinitive construction, as in (5) and (6), was extremely predominant.

(5) We talked and it's time to move on. (NYT)

(6) It's time for John to get into blood sports (...) (IND)

As for the few relative clauses occurring in the material (see (3) and (4) above), we could observe a similar regional tendency to the one Minugh & Lavelle found with it's high time. Whereas the past tense form, as in (7), predominated greatly in the British material, it was not so dominant in the American newspaper.

(7) It is time we ensured that it is conducted in the best possible manner. (IND)

In most cases where the verb in the relative clause was not in the past tense, it was in fact impossible to judge whether the verb form was the present indicative or a subjunctive, because the subject was in the first or second person singular, as in (8) or in the plural, as in (9).

(8) I think it's time I pay my own debt (...) (NYT95)

(9) I say it's time we bring it in (...) (NYT95)

There were also some clear cases of present tense, however, as in (10), and of subjunctive form, as in (11), most of them occurring in The New York Times.

(10) It's time that the Government rethinks the cold weather payment system (...) (IND)

(11) As the novel opens, Eastman returns to southern California, having decided with some bitterness that it's

time he treat himself (NYT)

The material further included one single example of an ing-form of the verb, but this might be a misprint:

(12) Our kids have rights and it's time someone starting addressing them. (NYT)

In the case of it's/it is about time (which was quite infrequent), however, to-infinitives were less frequent again.

Here, the past tense form, as in (13), predominated clearly even though there were a few tokens with verbs in the present tense, as in (14), and to-infinitive, as in (15), in the American material.

(13) 'It's about time they did this. (NYT)

(14) But I want to say it's about time it's over. (NYT)

(15) Now it's about time for the politicians to tell us what to do next. (NYT)

So, it seems that it's time, it's about time and it's high time behave quite differently when it comes to verb complementation. But now it is high time to move on (we move/d/) on to our second usage question.

ME

2. Which preposition should be used after the adjective angry?

According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, four different prepositions can be used after the adjective angry. It does not say explicitly whether there are any differences in use between these four, but judging from the way they are presented and from the examples given there are. At and with are grouped together and the example has an animate prepositional complement, as in (1), whereas about and over are grouped together and exemplified with an inanimte prepositional complement, as in (2).

(1) She was so angry with him that she threatened to throw him out of the house.

(2) Parents are justifiably angry about the decision to close the school.

Norstedts stora svensk-engelska ordbok makes a different distinction, viz. that angry with is used with people and angry at is used with things. Similarly, Handbok i engelska (by Svartvik & Svartvik) write that you are angry

with someone, but angry at or about something. The same conclusion can be drawn from the examples in the

Cambridge International Dictionary of English, which also gives an example of a subclause complementing the adjective, as in (3).

(3) We are very angry that the government has done nothing to improve the situation.

Here, no preposition occurs, but it is also possible to use clausal complementation in combination with a preposition, as in (4), taken from our corpus material.

(4) I don't trust him and I'm angry at how he's forced her to his will. (American book)

The Collins Cobuild Dictionary of the English Language does not claim anything explicitly, but its examples suggest that angry at and angry with are used with people and angry about is used with things. It seems that everybody agrees that angry with is used with animate prepositional complements and angry about is used with inanimate ones, but as far as angry at is concerned there is obviously no consensus. So, what do our corpora tell us in this matter?

Before we start dealing with people vs. things, there is one thing that calls for a brief discussion: the concept of animacy. It is quite obvious that a word like him in (1) refers to an animate being, and that a word like decision in (2) refers to something inanimate (as do whole clauses). But what about nouns like government and authority?

On the one hand, they can be regarded as groups of individuals, i.e. the people working in the goverment or at a particular authority, what Yamamoto refers to as "inferred animacy" (Animacy and reference, 1999). But such words can also refer to abstract administrative units, less readily regarded as animate. It is not always easy to judge from an example in a corpus whether the speaker has the first or the second interpretation in mind, since indeed one can be angry both at the individuals constituting the government or authority and at the administrative body as a whole.

We looked at angry in newspapers, books and spoken language, over 100 million words in all. Let us first look at the overall picture. The same ranking according to frequency occurred in both the British and American

newspaper material, but there were no consistent tendencies in the other corpora, apart from the fact that angry

over was the least frequent variant everywhere:

angry with

The Independent The New York Times

112

146

97

86

angry about

67 63

angry at

27 35

angry over

But what about animacy and inanimacy (or, in most cases, people vs. things)? Do the corpora confirm any of the claims referred to above? In the case of about and over the picture was clear: these were only used with inanimate complements, as in (3) and (4).

(3) But they were very angry about the whole thing. (spoken British English)

(4) Several hundred supporters invaded the pitch, apparently angry over news that Anderlecht were beating

Ghent. (NYT)

Dictionaries seem to agree that angry with is only used with animate referents. It is true that, in all the different corpora, the majority of tokens of angry with had an animate complement, as in (5), but the distinction was by no means absolute, since we found quite a few tokens with inanimate complements, as in (6), as well.

(5) On several occasions, the Knicks became angry with each other and angry with themselves. (NYT)

(6) They will be very angry with this news. (IND)

There were also several cases where the complement was a collective noun, as in (7).

(7) They have also been angry with several Latin American governments (...). (NYT)

Angry at showed quite clear regional variation in terms of animacy. In the British material, it was mainly used with an inanimate complement, as in (8), whereas in the American material, animate complements, as in (9), predominated with angry at.

(8) Autumn sat upright in the bath, angry at the pettiness of the Osbornes (...) (British book)

(9) And it wasn't that he was angry at Randall or blamed him. (American book)

To sum up, it seems clear that this is a case of variation where people have different ideas about how prepositions should be used. As a non-native speaker, it seems safest to use angry with when referring to people and angry about when referring to things.

ME

3. What is the most common word for people in general mankind or humankind?

These two nouns for the human race seem to be used more or less interchangeably in English, as can be seen in

(1) – (4). (There is also the word humanity but this had to be excluded from this search because it has several additional meanings.)

(1) Anthropology had a place in this scheme because for Marx it was the study of the early history of mankind.

(written BrE)

(2) Let us not be simplistic about things that concern the survival of mankind. (written BrE)

(3) It was clever of humankind to invent science and art to supply the deficiencies of nature, and we ought to be proud. (written BrE)

(4) As human history and experience progressed humankind oscillated between God's light and the depravity of darkness. (written BrE)

This question throws up some interesting questions about awareness of gender issues. The Longman Dictionary

of Contemporary English defines mankind as 'all humans considered as a group' and humankind as 'people in general'. (It is not quite clear what the difference is in the definitions, if you ask me.) The definitions in the

Australian Macquarie Dictionary are even more interesting. Mankind is defined as 1. 'men, as distinguished from women' and 2. 'humankind'. Humankind is defined as 'womankind and mankind; the human race'. It therefore appears that mankind sometimes is used exclusively about men, but since the noun womankind is very rare

(occurring only in twelve texts in the BNC), we may assume that mankind meaning 'men, as distinguished from women' is also rare. Mankind certainly includes both men and women in most cases.

One important feature with mankind and humankind is that mankind may be considered offensive by those belonging to mankind who are not men (the majority, in fact). Because of the increasing awareness of genderissues in language it is a reasonable assumption that humankind is increasing in usage, and therefore we put this hypothesis to the test.

The results of our corpus searches are presented in Table 1 below. The BNC (British National Corpus) contains a very wide range of texts, both written (90%) and spoken (10%). We chose to limit our searches to the number of articles, rather than to the number of tokens, because it may be assumed that writers are often consistent in their usage.

Table 1. The number of texts/articles containing mankind and humankind in three BrE corpora

BNC Ind 1990 Ind 2000

N % N % N %

humankind

68 15% 42 18% 79 25%

mankind

380 85% 187 82% 231 75%

First of all, the results clearly indicate that mankind is the more frequent term. It is used in between three and almost six times as many texts/articles as humankind. However, the material from The Independent suggests that humankind is gaining ground. (The absolute numbers are hard to compare since the number of words on the newspaper CD-ROMs is unknown.)

To conclude, most kinds of humans still prefer to use mankind to refer to all humans. Humankind can also be recommended to our readers since it avoids the possible sexist connotations of mankind.

ML

4. When we work with our computers, do we use computer mice or computer mouses?

Both alternatives certainly occur, as is shown by (1) and (2).

(1) This range of computer mice has been specially designed for younger computer users.

(2) Computer mouses are used by millions of people.

There seems to be some uncertainty as to which form to use, as is illustrated by (3) where both forms occur next to each other.

(3) Admart Promotions are pleased top be able to offer a wide range of computer mice and computer mouses, including cordless mouses, optical mouses, ergonomic mouses and much more.

Interestingly, similar variation occurs in Swedish with datormöss/datormusar. A Swedish expert on computer

terminology ( http://www.nada.kth.se/dataterm/fos/1.html

) recommends the irregular möss. She suggests that the use of the regular ending is caused by the fact that regular endings often appear in Swedish when a new metaphorical meaning appears. That is why we have kofotar (as well as kofötter), and smörgåsar (but gäss about birds). This rule is not entirely watertight, however, as with most rules.

Steven Pinker in his highly readable The Language Instinct explains regular plurals like Walkmans in the following way (p. 143): "The source of quirkiness is (…) [its] headlessness. A headless word is an exceptional item that, for one reason or another, differs in some property from its rightmost element, the one it would be based on if it were like ordinary words. A simple example of a headless word is a low-life – not a kind of life at all but a kind of person, namely one who leads a low life. (…) If low-life does not get its meaning from life, it cannot get its plural from life either. (…) The all-purpose regular rule, "Add the -s suffix," steps in by default, and we get low-lifes. (…)

The temptation to say Walkmans comes from the word's being headless: a Walkman is not a kind of man, so it must not be getting its meaning from the word man inside it, and by the logic of headlessness it shouldn't receive a plural form from man, either. But it is hard to be comfortable with any kind of plural, because the relation between Walkman and man feels utterly obscure." (Incidentally, he also explains why Toronto Maple Leafs are called Leafs and not Leaves (p.145). The pluralized noun is not leaf, but the name Maple Leaf, which is Canada's national symbol. That is why we may get tired of the Mickey Mouses in the administration, and not the Mickey

Mice.)

In order to investigate these rare phenomena, we had to consult the Internet. Our searches tell us that computer

mice (and datormöss) are clearly the most frequent alternatives. In the domain .uk mice was 54 times more common than mouses, and in the domain .edu mice was eleven times more common. There is, however, some variation, which is a fact that more theoretical books on linguistics often do not mention.

We can safely recommend our readers to use computer mice, since that is the most frequent term.

ML

3. Variation in the use of English quantifiers

Since my PhD thesis is almost completed – finally – I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of my findings. The study is about variation in some quantified NPs including all, whole, both and half, as illustrated by the following examples, where three different forms are used (both, both the and both of the):

(1) Both major parties have been slow to adopt Asian candidates.

(2) We have become the target of both the major parties.

(3) […] and the looming Federal election provides them with a unique opportunity to garner further concessions from both of the major parties.

Some people question the whole idea of grammatical synonymy in language, and claim that two different grammatical structues must have different meanings as well. The conclusion I draw in the thesis is that there is indeed "synonymy" or at least cases where it is very difficult to find differences in meaning, but that there are several factors that influence our choice of variants.

The aims of the study were...

... to find out about overall frequency distribution of the variants,

... to see how the variants were distributed across regions and media and

... to analyse what linguistic factors influence the choice of variant and to what extent they do so.

The corpus material comprised three newspapers (The Independent, The New York Times and The Sydney

Morning Herald, all from 1995) and two spoken corpora (the dialogue component of the British National Corpus,

BNC, and the Longman Spoken American Corpus, LSAC). These are all corpora that we often use to answer your usage questions in GramTime News.

The most interesting results of the study can be summarized as follows:

In most cases, one variant predominated greatly over the other(s). This was particularly clear in some of the cases I studied, such as the constructions with both exemplified above, where the simple form, illustrated in (1), was used in more than 95% of the cases. Another case of clear predominance for one variant was all in combination with a noun expressing time, as in (4), which was used in about nine times out of ten, whereas the form with whole, as in (5), was much less frequent.

(4) The children swam and played all day […] (IND95)

(5) I think she would be available the whole day. (LSAC)

Sometimes, the variation was related to region. The most conspicuous case was half a, as in (6), vs. a half, as in

(7), the latter being much more frequent in American English (c. 40%) than in British (6%) and Australian

English (13%).

(6) Let's make it half an hour, okay? (BNC)

(7) A half-hour before kickoff, he was in the training room being rubbed down by a physical therapist. (NYT95)

Also, forms with of, as in (8), were more frequent in American English than in British and Australian English, where the of-less forms, as in (10), were more predominant.

(8) We don't want to miss all of the people falling down. (NYT95)

(9) Bihac fulfils all those Balkan prejudices, its history a tale of betrayal and unfortunate geography, of local warlords, political intrigue and greed. (SMH95)

The material showed no significant differences between the spoken and written material, which may have several reasons. One possible reason is that the material investigated was too similar: the newspaper text contained a large number of spoken sentences, in the form of dialogues written down. Another reason could be that there are few differences between these two media, as far as quantified noun phrases are concerned. Perhaps the most (or only) important difference between speech and writing is that observed by Biber et al in their Longman grammar

of spoken and written English (1999:277): that all is far more frequent in conversation and fiction than in academic text, whereas the opposite is true of both. The authors explain this fact with reference to the need for precision in academic discourse (both being more precise than all), while conversation and fiction "have a tendency to opt for more categorical expressions (especially all)".

Finally, the study showed a number of correlations with various linguistic factors. Let me just give a few examples. I had a hypothesis about all of being particularly frequent when the quantifier has real totality meaning (as in All (of) the flowers are perennial, not just some of them) rather than being used to express large quantity (as in Where have all the flowers gone?). This hypothesis was corroborated indirectly, since all of was particularly frequent when the noun phrase included an element giving focus to the totality meaning (underlined), as in (10) to (12).

(10) A shoulder injury caused him to miss virtually all of the next season […]. (IND95)

(11) But not all of the evidence pointed in the same direction. (NYT95)

(12) Today all of the family except Franz share one thing in common: they now vote for the Greens […] (IND95)

Another finding was that almost all cases of simple all and a temporal noun were used in the adverbial function, as in (13), whereas the whole was used when the noun phrase had other functions, such as subject, as in (14).

(13) Busloads have been arriving all day, […] (NYT95)

(14) It was a fantastic feeling but the whole week was unbelievable, something I'll never forget. (IND95)

Animacy in connection to language structure is a fascinating topic, and my study showed that there is a clear link between the use of all with geographical names and cases where the noun phrase refers to the inhabitants in a country, town etc., as in (15), and betwen the use of the whole and cases where the referent is a geographical or political area, as in (16).

(15) Now, all America hopes painful chemotherapy needed for the lung cancer will yield a similar result. (IND95)

(16) Ours is the cleanest restaurant in the whole of India. (NYT95)

The overall conclusion is that syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases is far more complex than we might believe if we rely on our intuitions and grammar books. A great deal of the information obtained in the study was too detailed or uncertain to be useful for pedagogical purposes, but in some cases the results could clearly be used to improve school and reference grammars.

ME

4. Web tips

Sites for lower levels

In quite a few of the webtips given in previous issues of GramTime News you need a fairly good knowledge of

English to work with the various activities. But the Internet also contains a great deal of material for younger children with less advanced skills of English. One Australian site provides quick grammar exercises, short and easy listening comprehensions and vocabulary exercises. The site is called Adele's ESL Corner and is located at: http://www.homepages.ihug.com.au/~adelegc/index.html

Another site where you can find easy exercises for lower levels is called Activities for ESL Students, located at: http://a4esl.org/

This site provides access to grammar quizzes, vocabulary quizzes and crossword puzzles. There are even some bilingual vocabulary quizzes, so both Swedish students and students with some other mother tongues (e.g.

Spanish, Persian, Arabic and Turkish) can work with words in their specific languages. This site also provides excercises for intermediate and advanced students.

You can also check-out some tips we have given in previous issues of GTN: http://esl.about.com/education/esl/mbody.html

( GTN 00:2

) http://bogglesworld.com

(

GTN 02:2 )

ME

5.

GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases with all, whole, both and half. Växjö:

Acta Wexionensia.

·

–––. Forthcoming. A university grammar of English with a Swedish perspective. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English.

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in June 2004.

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**********************

June 2006

Welcome to the thirty-first issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editor: Magnus Levin , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Web tip

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

Excuse us, sorry to interrupt in the football craze! But with all due respect, there are other things of almost equal importance, like for instance how to apologize in English or how to interpret the expression with all due respect, which Magnus illustrates in two pieces in this summer issue of GramTime News. He also answers a question about the new use of key as an adjective, as in a very key goal.

In further usage notes, Maria looks at a useful new use of use; odd-sounding but apparently frequently occurring expressions like every weekends and every words; and the intricate meaning relations of apart from, besides and

except /for/. She also teases out the factors influencing the choice of singular or plural verb with the word politics and, finally, refers us to a number of freely accessible dictionaries and encyclopedias on the Net.

OK, now back to the sideline! Enjoy the rest of the World Cup (if you’re that kind of person) and the rest of the summer!

Best wishes from the GramTime News crew,

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. The other project members are Maria

Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

· The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

· The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

· The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

· The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

· The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

· The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

· The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

· The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

· The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

· The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

· The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 and 2000

· The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

· The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 and 2000

· The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Can we use use to refer to specific instances of use as in You have only two

uses

left?

One of our subscribers has come across use in expressions such as the one above, which means that you only have permission to use the thing in question two more times. We didn’t find any dictionaries accounting for this meaning of use (as a countable noun), but some include meanings such as “right to use something” or “ability to use something”. These could be regarded as expressing a similar idea although it applies to uncountable rather than countable nouns, and is not related to a specific instance of use, as in the example suggested above. Here is one example of the “right to use” meaning

(1) H e was denied use of the car as a punishment. (from MSN Encarta on-line dictionary)

We searched some of our large corpora (comprising all together several hundred million words) for the expression

one/two/three etc./many/several use/s/ and found only two instances:

(2) Made by Prinz&trade; (cat. no. 500-17), it should be good for about 15 uses. (American brochure)

(3) Brush recharges for 45 minutes of use about 22 uses so it can be packed for weekends away and business trips.

(American brochure)

In the corpus we found some other examples of uses in the plural form preceded by a numeral, but these have another meaning (‘areas where you can use something’):

(4) He outlines four uses of the micro-computer for the English lesson. (British magazine)

(5) Children appear to have two uses for language: to communicate, and to direct their own activity. (American book)

A Google search of the expressions one/two/three/four/five uses gave several hundred thousand hits, but it can be estimated that most of these are of the second (‘areas’) meaning. To get at the ‘right/ability’ meaning, we narrowed our searches to some more specific expressions; uses left, as in (6), yielded about 100 hits and after/for about X

uses, as in (7), yielded almost 1000 hits:

(6) Then you’ll only have two uses left, having used one up (and you cannot get three uses from a copy of the originally downloaded file).

[http://www.overclockers.com/articles851/]

(7) I only need to change the oil after about thirty uses.

[http://www.uktvfood.co.uk/index.cfm?uktv=messageBoards.thread&threadID=21989]

After one use, as in (8), yielded 82,000 hits (several hundred of which in domains such as .gov and .edu):

(8) Discard the disposable instrument after one use.

[http://www.wrppn.org/hospital/pdf/az/11%20Minimizing%20Glut%20(AZ).pdf]

To conclude, judging by the fact that we found relatively many examples on the Internet of the use of use as a countable noun referring to a specific instance of use (especially in the phrase after one use), this expression seems to be something we cannot simply disregard as marginal, in spite of the fact that we found very few instances in our corpora.

ME

2. I have heard that by saying with all due respect to someone you are most likely not to be treating the

listeners with respect at all, but rather being rude to them. Do your corpora confirm this?

Phrases like these often make spoken communication run more smoothly. However, sometimes non-natives may miss some of the finer shades of meaning, as discussed in an article in The Economist September 4, 2004, p. 32.

The anonymously written article claims that phrases like with (all) due respect are often misinterpreted by nonnatives to mean that the speaker will treat the listener’s opinions with respect, while such phrases in fact are

“recognized by a compatriot as an icy put-down” meaning ‘I think you are wrong or a fool’. This pragmatic meaning is also recognized in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, which defines the phrase in less popularized terms as a spoken formal expression ‘used to politely introduce an expression of disagreement’.´

We investigated this phrase in The New York Times 2000 since our spoken corpora are too small to yield interesting findings. There are 68 tokens in NYT 2000 (only 5 of which do not contain all). Most of the “I think you are wrong or a fool” examples quite naturally occur in texts which are either found in argumentative writing, as (1) and (2), or in quoted speech from debates, as (3). A very large spoken corpus would probably produce a slightly different result.

(1) To accuse the attorney general of being precipitous is, with all due respect, preposterous. (NYT 2000)

(2) Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who is advising the Gore campaign, said he expects the dispute to be resolved in a matter of days. We want to reach a full and fair result, he said on Meet the Press. But we want to do it in an expeditious way. With luck, this fiasco will be resolved in a week or two. But with all due respect to

Mr. Christopher, there is little chance it will be resolved fully and fairly. (NYT 2000)

(3) KRAMER -- O.K., Mrs. Clinton, recently a number of proposals have been put forth to build a large domed stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. Do you think that taxpayer money should be used to build such a stadium?

CLINTON -- Well, with all due respect to Mayor Giuliani, who’s sitting in the front row, the answer is no, I don't.

I love sports and I love the opportunity for people to go to sports, but I don't think that’s a good use of that space and place or of taxpayer dollars. (NYT 2000)

Note that in (3) Mrs. Clinton voices her disagreement with Mayor Giuliani, who apparently was present at the time, no fewer than three times in succession (no, I don’t … I don’t think), but that this is done with all due respect.

In spoken-like instances like the ones above, with all due respect serves the function of down-toning the facethreatening aspects of disagreeing, and can be said to represent polite disagreement.

However, it should be observed that with all due respect not only occurs expressing disagreement, but also in contexts where it in fact means something along the lines of ‘I apologize to X because I will compare him to Y and

I will rank Y above X in some respect’, as illustrated in (4) and (5) below. This meaning is in fact the most frequent one in the newspaper material, but may, as suggested above, be less common in speech.

(4) (…) Sultan Mehmet, who with all due respect to Suleiman the Magnificent and several others was really the most compelling, the most interesting, the most terrifying and at the same time most fascinating of all the Ottoman sultans. (NYT 2000)

(5) With all due respect to Al Groh, or Bill Belichick, or almost anyone else, no one is better suited to lead the Jets

than Parcells. (NYT 2000)

This small study shows how authentic corpus data can be used to illustrate language use in interaction. With all due respect to dictionaries, corpora are often an invaluable source of data for those interested in improving their communicative competence in English.

ML

3. I have heard people using every with plural nouns (as in every words), but this cannot be grammatical, can it?

The word every is, according to all descriptions in grammatical literature, a singular word, even though the meaning can to some extent be regarded as plural (every bike = all bikes). Yet, we did find a few examples of every preceding a plural noun in our corpora, all of them in British English, but they might of course be misprints or typos.

(1) I bet the boy would have preferred to have worked day and night every holidays until he was a hundred to pay off his debt (…) (British magazine)

(2) I go down there every weekends. (spoken British English)

The construction abounds on the Internet; for instance we found 38,600 examples of every words and 43,000 examples of every kinds. If we restrict our search to domains such as .gov and .edu, however, the number of examples decreases considerably; every kinds yields 43 hits on .edu sites and 13 hits on .gov sites. One very common use of this structure was in advertisements for events, opening times etc., as in (3) and (4):

(3) Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, come down to Regent Park Focus every Mondays at 4pm - 6pm if you’re

10 to 13 years of age.

[http://www.catchdaflava.com/Current_20Workshops]

(4) Opened every Saturdays from 10am till 8pm!

[http://www.rave.ca/calendar.php?id=9005]

Interestingly, both these examples were found on websites that seem to be addressing young people. Furthermore, as we all know, many texts on the Internet were not written by native speakers (which was very clear with many of the examples of the type open every Mondays – a lot of them could be traced to Asia), so I think that we can safely conclude that the structure where every is followed by a plural noun is clearly something which we should not encourage our students to use. But perhaps the fact that the construction occurs (and is so frequent on the Internet) may indicate that we are watching an on-going change in progress, where a firm grammatical rule is actually loosening up under the influence of the immense number of non-native speakers who use the English language.

ME

4. Can apart from mean both besides and except /for/?

Svartvik and Svartvik in their Handbok i engelska comment on these expressions, claiming that besides is used in a positive context, corresponding to Swedish ‘förutom, jämte’, whereas apart from and except for occur in negative contexts (Swedish ‘bortsett från’). They provide the following examples for illustration:

(1) Besides going to evening classes twice a week she plays badminton on Saturdays. (‘Förutom att hon går på kvällskurs…’)

(2) Except for the working hours (Apart from the working hours) it’s not a bad job. (‘Bortsett från arbetstiden…’)

This is also how apart from is often described in dictionaries. Swan, however, in his Practical English usage points out that apart from can be used in both senses, both to add, as with besides, and to subtract, as with except /

for/, and this interpretation of apart from is supported by some dictionaries also (e.g. Merriam-Webster on-line and

Compact Oxford Dictionary on-line).

Now, what does our corpus have to say on the matter? Does apart from mainly add or subtract? We made a study based on the 60-million word Cobuild corpus of British and American English, where we restricted the search to

apart from the in order to get a manageable number of examples, but still got 770 hits. Since a study of this kind requires that one look into the context of each sentence, we narrowed it even further into a sample of 200 random examples. Interestingly, out of these examples, only 6 were found in American sources, which inspired a side-track search for apart from in the different subcorpora. The statistics are very clear: apart from was much less frequent overall in the American material than in the British material, whereas with both besides and except /for/ the

American English subcorpora ranked much higher, as illustrated by the following table:

Table 1. Frequency per million words of apart from in the different subcorpora of the Cobuild corpus

Subcorpus Occurrences per million words

apart from besides except except for

Spoken British English

73 6 63 11

British magazines

60 20 74 13

British books

53 42 129 31

The Times

52 17 59 10

Today

50 10 47 7

The Sun + News of the world

47 6 38 7

British brochures etc.

43 15 109 14

British radio (BBC)

Australian newspapers

American books

American brochures etc.

American radio (NPR)

42

41

16

12

8

16

14

63

19

23

31

57

124

182

73

5

13

36

23

20

The study further indicates that apart from occurs frequently in both the besides and the except /for/ senses

(proving Svartvik & Svartviks’s statement about apart from only being used to subtract wrong), although it was a little more frequent (61%) in the except /for/ meaning, as in (3) and (4), than in the besides meaning (39%), as in

(6) and (7) in the corpus:

(3) Everything was quiet apart from the fire burning. (British magazine)

(4) He said: “Scholes lives life quietly and right now he shouldn’t be thinking about anything apart from the World

Cup.” (British magazine)

(5) Apart from the kitchen being a practical family room, Amy has just realised she could put it to another use.

(British magazine)

(6) Apart from the Halls, about 3,000 residents of Barlaston village, which surrounds the house, could also suffer if mining restarts. (British newspaper)

Obviously, native speakers see apart from as a flexible expression which can be used in both positive and negative contexts, even though negative contexts predominate.

ME

5. Is key an adjective in Present-Day English? I have noticed that many people talk about, for instance, very

key moments.

Words have often been recorded to change their word classes in the history of English. Examples include the auxiliary verb must, which has also become a noun (it’s a must), the noun network, which is now also used as a verb (to network with Malmö), and the imaginative creation of the verb to MacGyver, ‘to fix with small means’, from the 80s TV-series MacGyver (Has anyone ever actually MacGyvered a diaper?).

There are a number of experiments that can be applied to test for adjective-hood. Some of these include the ability

to be used after the adverb very, and the ability to take comparative and superlative forms. We therefore searched for very key and most key in the Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC) and The New York Times (NYT) 1990 and 2000 to see to what extent the adjectival use has got a foothold in AmE. It turned out that there were no instances at all in the spoken material (from the 1990s), but that there were a few in NYT. NYT 1990 did not contain any instances of most key and only three cases of very key, one of which occurred in the odd construction

“all of whom are a [sic] very key in these discussions”, and one of which occurred within quotation marks, possibly indicating lack of familiarity with the adjective, as illustrated in (1). The material from NYT 2000 produced more tokens of key as an adjective, since there were five instances of very key, as exemplified in (2), and two tokens of most key, which both occurred in the same quoted sentence in (3).

(1) Mr. Smith did not appear at the event, his wife, Mary Jo, said, because he had to cast ‘very key’ votes in

Washington. (NYT 1990)

(2) The whole game could hinge on a very small number of votes in a few very key places -- a precinct or two in central Florida, the level of turnout in Flint or Detroit. (NYT 2000)

(3) If he wasn’t the most key guy, he was one of the most key guys, he said. (NYT 2000)

The NYT material therefore provides some indication of increased frequency and acceptability of adjectival uses. It is noteworthy that this use first appears in quotations and then gradually seems to become more accepted in more formal genres, as is often the case in language change.

Because of the low numbers in our standard material, we had to supplement this with Internet searches. The .uk domain provides 192 instances of the most key and the respectable figure 13,400 for very key. It therefore seems that at least very key is widely used. An interesting example from the Internet of multiple occurrences of most key is seen in (4) below:

(4) Fifty miles south of teeming Zanesville, Ohio (population 27,200 in the 1994 census), we were here to assess the fruits of the company's best efforts, in this most key segment of a most key market at a most key moment in company history.

[http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/sedans/0209_honda_accord]

We can conclude that key is used not only as a noun (and a verb) but also as an adjective in Present-Day English and that it seems to be increasing. Such information about variable word class status can be at least a bit key for teachers who want to make grammar teaching more interesting by connecting it to real data.

ML

6. When is politics singular and when is it plural?

Words ending in -ics (such as statistics, acoustics and ethics) often have both a singular and a plural form, the singular one being used when we talk about a subject of study or research, as in (1) to (3), and the plural form used when we talk about something more specific, as in (4) to (6):

(1) Probability is the mathematical foundation on which statistics rests. (British brochure)

(2) Architectural acoustics is the science of controlling quality of sound in buildings. (Wikipedia)

(3) Neither metaphysics nor ethics is the home of religion, nor does either hold the key to its real nature. (British book)

(4) In fact, statistics show that the Soviet food problem today does not come from an overall shortage of food within the country. (American radio)

(5) The acoustics are good, and they should be: the arena is the venue for Italy's most famous summer opera festival. (British newspaper)

(6) Democrats hoped the campaign would focus on Senator D’Amato’s ethics, but as NPR’s Jim Zarroli reports,

Geraldine Ferraro’s ethics have been getting the attention. (American radio)

When politics is used to refer to the subject of study etc., it is clearly a singular noun, as in (7), whereas when we refer to the ideas of specific people, Svartvik & Sager’s university grammar (among other sources) claims, the word is plural, as in (8):

(7) Politics is studied as a combined honours degree with another subject chosen from the Undergraduate Modular

Programme.

[http://www.google.se/search?hl=sv&q=%22politics+is+studied%22&meta=]

(8) Of course, his politics are those of moderation, and where he was critical he’s always been constructively critical. (British magazine)

Many dictionaries and grammar books consulted refrain from commenting on which form, singular or plural, should be used when we refer to politics either as a general phenomenon (not with the “subject of study” meaning) or to the politics of a specific country, period of time etc. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English indeed mentions that politics , although generally singular apart from when it refers to an individual’s ideas, can be plural in British English. Svartvik & Svartvik’s handbook divides politics into ’det politiska spelet, politiska angelägenheter’, which is considered to be singular, and ’politisk åsikt, ståndpunkt, linje’, which is plural. Now can our corpora help us clarify the matter?

We looked at politics + singular/plural verb in the Cobuild corpus, dividing the examples into (a) subject of study etc., (b) general phenomenon, (c) the politics of a specific nation, time period, party etc. (d) a specific type of politics (such as ethnic politics and gender politics) and (e) an individual’s political ideas. The results are illustrated by the following table.

Table 1. Politics used with singular and plural verb forms

Singular Plural

N % N %

Total

N %

Subject of study etc.

0 0 0 -

General phenomenon

98 89% 12 11% 110 100%

The politics of a nation etc.

18 55% 15 45% 33 100%

A specific type of politics

29 76% 9 24% 38 100%

An individual’s political ideas

2 17% 10 83% 12 10%

The corpus was helpful, even though the somewhat confusing picture remains – at least to some extent. It could first of all be concluded that out of the 193 tokens found in the corpus, the reference to politics as a general phenomenon, as in (9) and (10, was far more frequent (making up about half of the examples) than the other functions of politics, represented by (7) and (8) above and (11) and (12) below.

(9) Politics is not about fairness. (politics as a general phenomenon) (Australian newspaper)

(10) Society is changing; politics is not (politics as a general phenomenon) (British newspaper)

(11) Ethnic politics has just the opposite effect. (a specific type of politics) (American book)

(12) It has become fashionable to assume that post-Maastricht British politics has become “Europeanised”; but the trade in ideas has never relied solely or even primarily on geographical proximity. (the politics of a specific nation)

(British newspaper)

In the majority of cases (89%), the singular verb form, as in (9) and (10) above, was used when politics referred to a general phenomenon, whereas the plural verb form, as in (13), was less frequent (11%):

(13) Politics don’t come into it at all. (spoken British English)

Second, the use of politics to refer to the subject of study or research was non-existent in the corpus. Third, in the type where politics is used to talk about the politics of a specific nation, time period etc., the distribution between the singular, as in (12) above, and the plural, as in (14), was rather even, the singular form being only slightly more common:

(14) Polish politics appear to be returning to the wheeling and dealing for which it used to be known in precommunist times. (British radio)

Fourth, the singular verb form predominated with a specific type of politics, as in (11) above, whereas the plural verb form, as in (15), was only used in about one fourth of the cases:

(15) Good old-fashioned gender politics have been to the fore in reviews of Andre Brink’s new novel, Imaginings of Sand. (British newspaper)

Lastly, as for the reference to the politics of a specific individual, the plural verb form, as in (16), was – in line with claims in the literature – the more frequent structure, whereas the singular form, as in (17) was much rarer:

(16) She says her politics have softened since then. (British magazine)

(17) Each person’s politics has been influenced by when and where they were born, by their family, by their economic conditions, by political leaders. (American radio)

We further looked into examples of politics used with a plural verb form to find out whether those not relating to the ideas of particular individuals were all British, as suggested by the Longman dictionary. The claim that the use of a plural verb form with politics is a Briticism was difficult to either verify or falsify. Out of the 36 examples of

politics followed by a plural verb form, 5 (12%) occurred in the American corpora. The proportion of American vs. British material in the Cobuild corpus is roughly 20% vs. 80%. Looking at this from an occurrences-permillion-words perspective, plural politics occurred 0.5 times per million words in the American material and slightly more often (0.7 times) in the British material.

Summarizing this political kaleidoscope, we can conclude that politics is usually used in the singular form to refer to a general phenomenon, the subject of study or research or a specific type of politics, and in the plural form to refer to a specific person’s political ideas. When it comes to the use of the word in relation to a specific nation, period in time etc., either the singular or the plural can be used. As so many times before, the corpus has shown us that there are very seldom absolute categories in authentic language.

ME

7. I feel uncertain when apologizing in English. Do your corpora indicate how native speakers apologize?

Apologies were studied by one of our students, Kerstin Takvam, in her essay “I’m sorry, please excuse me. A corpus study of sorry and excuse in spoken American English”. In her detailed study of AmE speech from the

Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC) she classifies apologies into ‘redeemers’, as in (1), where a speaker apologizes for something that has already happened, and ‘disarmers’, as in (2), which are used for some action that is potentially disturbing.

(1) Sorry about that, I just slipped on my bag and slid under you.

(2) Excuse me would you, would you two mind if conversations we have in the gallery were recorded for a research project?

Other lesser categories were ‘hearing offences’, as seen in (3), ‘sarcastic apologies’, as in (4), and ‘sympathetic apologies’, as in (5), where the speaker expresses sympathy for the addressee.

(3)

- Do you like it with the skin?

- I’m sorry, what?

- Do you like your, um, apple with the skin?

(4) I mean, you could, you could maybe justify on one course a year or maybe one course semester a reduction for some things. But this business of people who are teaching one or two classes a year, the dean basically said I’m not going to, in fact, you get rid of it. Which, I’m sorry, but I’m not, I’ve no sympathy with that.

(5) Anyway Shane, I’m real sorry if there are any problems I think it started a couple of weeks ago when Amanda got real angry at you for talking to Mike and then Mike talked to Guy and said that you had been real involved with her using crank and pot and that made Guy real angry and it made me real upset too. So, unfortunately you probably got the blunt end from Guy.

The quantitative analysis suggests that sorry is around three times more common than excuse me in AmE speech.

This preference for sorry seems to be the norm for other variants of English, such as British and New Zealand

English, judging from previous studies. Both sorry and excuse are used as redeemers in more than half the instances. This is further exemplified in (6) and (7).

(6) Well, <sighing>oh well.</sighing> Sorry that took so long ...(10) <unclear> hold this? ... <nv_sigh> ... Let’s see. <nv_sniff> <nv_clears throat> ...(6)

(7)

- <nv_sneeze> excuse me.

- When I talked about <unclear> buying the pieces to maybe, that we can say upgrade the computers, basically we can build one that way.

- <nv_sneeze> excuse me [again]

It is noteworthy that excuse is pretty frequent as a sarcastic apology (c. 20% of the instances). Another interesting finding is that women apologize more often than men in the material, but it is difficult to know the proportions of male and female speech overall in the corpora. Furthermore, women receive more apologies than men.

The fact that women seem to use more apologies than men does not necessarily indicate that women are particularly powerless, however. Takvam refers to Janet Holmes (1995:186), who proposes that it might be the case that men and women interpret apologies differently. While women think that apologies are “an intrinsic part of the politeness behaviour between friends and could even be regarded as tokens of concern and friendship”, men possibly consider apologies as “acknowledgements of inadequacy”. It is therefore important to discuss to what extent there were gender differences between the different functions of apologies.

Interestingly, women produced three times more tokens of sarcastic apologies than men did. In contrast, redeemers were relatively more frequently used by men, as illustrated in (8), in which a man apologizes for a misunderstanding, while disarmers were more frequently used by women, as in (9), where a woman apologizes for interrupting a conversation:

(8)

- Tell him he can have that one

- Okay.

- I’ll keep the other one.

- Yeah, sorry about that. I thought he had it so

(9)

- Excuse me I’m sorry to interrupt Dwight <name> is here with <unclear>

- Tell him we’ll be there in a minute

Corpus investigations of language in use like Kerstin Takvam’s study of apologies are not only interesting from a theoretical perspective but can also be used to improve the teaching of English where pragmatics is often neglected. Our newsletter continues its quest to champion the teaching of authentic English.

ML

3. Web tip

On-line dictionaries and encyclopedias

Do your students sometimes complain about working with alternative material because there are no vocabulary lists available, the school’s dictionaries are few or worn-out or they cannot afford to buy their own dictionaries?

Don’t worry. Nowadays there are plenty of on-line resources for anyone who doesn’t have a dictionary of their own. My favourite website is called Onelook and is connected to a large number of on-line dictionaries. When you do a search, you will get a quick definition of the word in the right-hand bottom corner of the screen, but you will also get direct links to all the different on-line dictionaries where the word is included. I’ve actually come to realize that in recent years I’ve started to use Onelook more often than my old printed favourite, the Longman

Dictionary of Contemporary English . This is where you find Onelook: http://www.onelook.com/

Another useful resource, if you’re interested in the vocabulary of a specific area, is Your Dictionary (Specialty

Dictionaries). Here you find links to dictionaries within a vast range of fields, such as astronomy, film, golf,

linguistics, medicine and wine. The main site from which you enter these different dictionaries is located at: http://www.yourdictionary.com/specialty.html

The dictionaries related to Onelook and Your Dictionary are all monolingual, i.e. English-only. To my knowledge there are no good bilingual English-Swedish dictionaries freely available on the net as yet. There is, however, a small Swedish-English dictionary, published at the website of the National Agency for Education (Skolverket), called Lexin. Lexin further includes a number of other common immigrant languages, such as Arabic, Bosnian,

Croatian, Serbian and Spanish, but like the Swedish-English one they are all dictionaries where you look up a word in your mother tongue and get a suggestion in English, not the other way round. You will find Lexin at the following address: http://lexikon.nada.kth.se/lexin-en.shtml

If you know about other useful dictionaries, please let us know and we’ll write about them in the next issue of

GramTime News.

Another useful resource is an on-line encyclopedia called Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a very exciting phenomenon, since it is an encyclopedia where anyone can contribute knowledge. This might sound hazardous – doesn’t it mean that the encyclopedia contains a lot of unreliable information? There is of course a certain risk, but from what I’ve heard, it seems that the whole thing is handled rather professionally, and that those who contribute to the encyclopedia are usually quite knowledgeable in their fields. A comparative study of Wikipedia and the wellknown Encyclopedia Britannica made by the scientific journal Nature found more or less the same error rate, so I believe that you can safely recommend your students to use it. Wikipedia can be accessed at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

ME

4. GramTime publications

· Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus

out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

· –––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

· –––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today , 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22-27.

· –––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion.

In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15-16 oktober 1999. Växjö: Reports from

Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

· –––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus linguistics

and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103-116)

· Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67-80)

· –––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

· –––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

· –––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

· –––. 2004. Syntactic variation in English quantified noun phrases with all, whole, both and half. Växjö: Acta

Wexionensia (diss.).

· –––. 2004. Värsta språket på engelska - om variation och förändring i modernt engelskt språkbruk.

Smålandsposten 29/5 2004.

· –––. Forthcoming. A university grammar of English with a Swedish perspective. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

· ––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

· Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

· –––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

· –––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

· –––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

· –––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21-33.

· –––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English (diss.).

· –––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

· Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

· –––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

· –––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam:

Rodopi.

· ––– & Maria Estling Vannestål. 2005. Fatigue fatigue: The spread and development of a vogue word in British and American English. In The power of words. Studies in honour of Moira Linnarud. Solveig Granath, June

Miliander & Elisabeth Wennö (eds.). Karlstad: Karlstad University.

· –––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

· ––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

· ––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected] We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.hum.vxu.se/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2006.

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@GramTime News 06:[email protected]

**********************

December 2006

Welcome to the thirty-third issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editor: Magnus Levin , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. ICT in English teaching

4. Web tip

5. GramTime publications

6. Practical information

7. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

In these days of space euphoria, Christmas frenzy and global-warming-caused (?) flooding in the southwest of

Sweden, it feels good to concentrate on grammar, pedagogy and the finer points of punctuation!

Prescriptivists are sometimes called the language police, and whether you can say things like "I am a language police" is something that this force would probably have views on. Maria, however, takes a descriptivist approach when she investigates the case. In another enquiry, she solves the mystery of a missing not, and finally she disperses a reader's confusion about the formality/informality of due to.

Magnus, on the other hand, can't not study all the new expression he hears, like "It’s so not grammatical". Read and learn! In his usual didactic (hmm…) manner, he also discusses the use of the words didactic, didactics and

didacticism, an eternal problem for us in the teaching and learning business.

In 2004, Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss became a bestseller, showing that a seemingly boring subject like punctuation can grasp the interest of the general public. Only two years later we latch on to the trend, answering a question about quotation marks: single or double?

ICT in the classroom is a hot topic, and Maria describes an ongoing project at Växjö University. In the related web tips you can learn how to become a virtual Park Ranger or join Christer Fuglesang in space. Personally, for the next week I'll just concentrate on the Christmas ham and the lutfisk (stockfish, or as Norstedts stora svensk-

engelska ordbok explains: "boiled ling [previously soaked in lye]" – mouthwatering, eh?).

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year from all of us!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

The aim of the GramTime project is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British,

American, Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. The other project members are Maria

Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

If you want to read more about the project, go to: http://www.vxu.se/hum/forskn/projekt/gramtime/index.xml

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Can police be used to refer to an individual person?

According to all the grammar books we have consulted, police is used to refer to the police force as a unit, rather than to individual police officers. According to the Majority English Dibul ( http://www.bentarz.se/ ), however, the use of police to refer to individuals "occurs regularly", although it "isn't common". MED is a newsletter devoted to non-native English, whereas our newsletter mainly aims at describing the English of native speakers. So, what about native speakers, do they ever use the word police in this way?

We first searched for a police in our two biggest corpora, the Cobuild Corpus (56 million words) and the British

National corpus (100 million words), and found only three examples (compared to 199 instances of a police

officer, 357 instances of a policeman and 39 instances of a policewoman). Here are the examples we found, the last one of which is uttered by a seven-year-old child:

(1) There is a police, but not many of them, standing just in front of the Parliament talking with the people, and national flags are waving in the wind. (American radio)

(2) You want a police to come as soon as possible, and you want to, to deal with it because it's a priority to you.

(British speech)

(3) Dad I haven't gonna (sic) be a police. (British speech)

We also had a look at Google, where the search had to be further specified to avoid all instances of compound nouns whose first component is police. We got 573 hits for a police is, 45 hits for a police has and 134 hits for a

police was, illustrated by (4) to (6):

(4) One of the reason why I want be a police is because you get to help people out of danger. ( http://www.kidlink.

org/english/career/cop/index.html )

(5) A police has to make a deal with a murderer because they both have some secrets inside of them. ( poll.imdb.

com/title/tt0278504/usercomments?start=80 )

(6) But what was more surprising was that a police was having tea in a nearby makeshift shop! ( www.thedailystar.

net/magazine/2006/05/03/dhaka.htm

- a Bangladeshi newspaper)

Interestingly, one of the hits is a comment on this usage (from a review of Martin Amis's Night Train):

(7) The first line 'I am a police' is apparently not common parlance in the states, which is admittedly an inauspicious start, but I found that much of the dialogue was sharp enough, jazzy enough and witty enough to create a vivid picture of the hard boiled underbelly of American urban life.

So, we could indeed find examples of a police being used about single individuals, even though most of them seem to occur either in (a) texts written by children, (b) texts written by non-native speakers or (c) very informal circumstances.

Moreover, several of the examples of a police refer to a police force, rather than to individual police officers, as in

(8) and (9):

(8) The very idea of a police was anathema, American and English liberalism viewing any such force as a form of the dreaded "standing army." ( catb.org/~esr/guns/gun-control.html

)

(9) Sorry, but a Police is still a servant of the public, they have rules and regulations to follow that mandate that they must "protect and serve." ( www.fazed.net/view/?id=12687&p=4 )

This is also quite interesting, since grammar books usually describe police as a plural invariable noun, which means that it cannot take the indefinite article.

Judging by the results of this corpus/Google study, we can still recommend our students to avoid using police about individual police officers. Then we can always involve them in a discussion about political correctness in language: Shouldn't we talk about a police officer rather than about a policeman/-woman?

ME

2. When an adverbial or apposition introduced by particularly occurs after a clause including a word like

not, seldom, never etc., should you leave out not after particularly in English?

Our reader had observed this absence of a second negation marker (not) in an adverbial introduced by particularly when reading Dan Brown's Angels and demons:

(1) He wondered if any of the books in here were stored in heavy, steel, fireproof file cabinets. Langdon had seen them from time to time in other archives but had seen none here. Besides, finding one in the dark could prove timeconsuming. Not that he could lift one anyway, particularly in his present state.

He would like a not after particularly (particularly not in his present state), and wonders if he is "thinking in

Swedish" here?

We started by having a look in the Swedish corpus

Språkbanken

(a component including text from the broadsheet

Svenska Dagbladet from the year 2000), and could conclude that the majority of the examples including the corresponding words speciellt and särskilt in structures of this kind indeed included inte, as in the following examples:

(2) De två posterna tar dock inte ut varandra, speciellt inte för den elintensiva industrin.

(3) För självberöm är ju sällan så uppskattat. Särskilt inte när det kommer från en tjej.

Roughly one fifth of the examples, however, lacked inte:

(4) Inte helt lätt, speciellt när gerillan gjorde en våldsam offensiv mot San Salvador under sex veckor.

(5) Men som förälder till blivande brud eller brudgum har man det heller så inte (sic) lätt. Särskilt om den blivande svärsonens eller svärdotterns familj är ny bekantskap och festen innebär att ett par eller flera släkter ska klara att navigera bland olika konstellationer och relationer.

But what about English? In fact, when going through the Cobuild corpus, we found that the whole 56-million-word corpus included only 10 examples of particularly followed by not, as in (6), and 28 examples of especially followed by not, as in (7):

(6) He did not wish to think of anything, particularly not of this. (British books)

(7) People have to understand that peacekeeping without some will to fight, which means to either kill or be killed, is no peacekeeping at all, especially not in a place like Bosnia. (American radio)

It proved to be far too time-consuming to carry out a complete analysis of the difference in frequency between phrases with and without not, since the Cobuild corpus included more than 9000 examples of particularly and 8073 examples of especially. However, a rough run-through of parts of the material, revealed that the structure without not, as in (8) and (9), clearly predominated:

(8) I wouldn't be without one, particularly during winter. (British magazine)

(9) I was scared but I never admitted that, especially in front of children I was taking care of. (American book)

Obviously, this is a case where English and Swedish usage differs, since the omission of not after particularly and

especially in structures of the type described above seems to be far more frequent in English than in Swedish. As a colleague of mine suggested, speakers of English may regard the use of not in a structure of this kind as a double

negation – one of those structures that are fiercely criticized by prescriptivists.

ME

3. Is due to only used in informal contexts?

Due to is a phrase that we have already dealt with in GramTime News. In

GTN 05:1 we compared due to with

because of, on account of, owing to and thanks to in terms of negative and positive semantic prosody and concluded that " it seems wise to recommend that learners of English use thanks to with positive prosody, whereas any of the other four constructions can be used in more negative or neutral circumstances".

One of our subscribers has, however, been told by a native speaker of English that due to should not be used in formal language and asked us if we could confirm this claim in our corpora. We first consulted the most formal corpus we have access to, the "learned" section in the Frown and FLOB corpora (each containing some 160,000 words of academic American and British English respectively from the 1990s) and in each corpus found some twenty examples of due to (cases of be due to deleted), as illustrated in (1) and (2):

(1) Once the decision to purchase a system for 100% inspection is made, a part packaging system integrated with the inspection element will eliminate any potential mixing due to the human factor or bulk packaging. (American

English)

(2) The ripple forms are generally well-preserved due to the draping of the overlying silts. (British English)

In order to find out whether the acceptance of due to in formal writing is a recent phenomenon, we also consulted the Brown and LOB corpora, which include the same text types and quantities but material from the 1960s. In the

Brown corpus we again found twenty-odd examples, whereas the LOB corpus in fact included more than 50 examples:

(3) With the spring rains the flow rose rapidly due to infiltration in open sewers. (American English)

(4) The loss of accuracy due to adopting an approximate procedure is usually insignificant for purposes of engineering practice, (...) (British English)

So obviously, due to is not – and has not been (at least not since the 1960s) – restricted to being used in informal contexts. And just as in the article about particularly above, a colleague of ours confirmed the corpus results.

Finally, we actually found a note on due to in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English: "Owing to is less common in spoken English than due to, but both are slightly formal [...]".

ME

4. I have heard so not being used to modify adjectives in phrases such as this is so not funny. How common is this usage?

So not seems to be a very flexible construction that is on the increase. In our material from The New York Times

(NYT) and the Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC) it was used to modify adjectives (as in (1)), prepositional phrases (in (2)), personal pronouns (in (3)), verbs (in (4)), clauses (in (5)) and elliptically (in (6)):

(1) It's so not fair, Dantzscher said. (NYT 2000)

(2) I think it is so it's so offensive to me and I feel like so not part of it (LSAC)

(3) That is so not me. (NYT 1997)

(4) ‘But you know, from old movies we are used to seeing people knifed and' -- snap! -- 'they die, when actually it can take a person a long, long time to die. But we are so not-used to seeing realism in a movie that when it is actually presented, it seems either silly, comical or baroque.' (NYT 1994)

(5) Should a 90’s revival seize the opportunity to make Bobby gay? Mr. Ellis is adamant in his answer: 'This is so

not what this is about'. (NYT 1995)

(6) Rupert likes to identify me with all the gay icons which I'm just so not, said Madonna. (NYT 2000)

Judging from the few examples we found in our corpora, adjectives seem to be the most frequently used category after so not . This is also supported by supplementary searches on the Internet with 65,000 hits for so not funny alone. So not is typical of informal spoken AmE, since all examples in NYT were recorded in quotes. Furthermore, the overall frequencies in speech and writing with only ten instances in around 300 million words in NYT and four instances in five million words in LSAC also support the idea that this is an informal construction. In addition, this is what Huddleston & Pullum (2002: 807) argue in their Cambridge Grammar, where so not is described as "a relatively new construction, characteristic of the informal speech of younger speakers". The examples from NYT indicate that this phrase may have spread via the speech of celebrities, such as Madonna (as seen in (6) above) and

Quentin Tarantino (as seen in (4)).

Finally, we will look at the overall distribution between the different years of NYT . This is very little to go on but the steady increase in the use of so not in NYT can be taken as an indication of its increased use.

Table 1. So not in The New York Times

Year

1990

1994

1995

1996

1997

2000

Tokens

0

1

1

1

2

5

To conclude, so not can be recommended for learners in very informal speech and writing, but it cannot be recommended in formal writing. Because it’s so not formal.

ML

5. I have heard the "double negation" You can’t not look at her , meaning roughly You can’t avoid/resist

looking at her or You must/have to look at her . How common is this?

Prescriptive grammarians generally disapprove of double negations because they are "illogical". They therefore argue that, for instance, I can’t get no satisfaction means I can get satisfaction. Linguists, however, propose that such double negations serve the purpose of special emphasis (e.g. Biber et al's Longman Grammar of Written and

Spoken English 1999: 178). The question our reader asks, in contrast, relates to instances where the double negation actually "works", i.e. where the two negations cancel each other out to make a positive. This is illustrated in (1) to (5) below, where the double negative seems to mean roughly you can’t avoid/resist X.

(1) 'He is thick sometimes and hard-headed, but you can’t not like John Spencer,' she said. (NYT 1996)

(2) But I can't stop writing, and I can’t not make another new album, because I've already written new stuff and I have to let it out. (NYT 1997)

(3) 'After all the inflammatory things that were said about the victim and her family, I couldn’t not come forward with my opinion,' Mrs. Kane said. (NYT 1996)

(4) I am very much involved intellectually and emotionally. You can’t not be . (NYT 1995)

(5) In 1996 our reviewer, Sven Birkerts, said, 'Mr. Baker is one of those writers who almost cannot not give pleasure.' (NYT 1997)

A native speaker we consulted rephrased the meaning of these double negations into "the positive thing is so irresistibly compelling that not doing it is just not a valid choice".

The present study is limited to examples from The New York Times because our BrE material yielded too few examples. It should be noted that most instances found in the search for double negations (not not and n’t not) in

NYT had to be discarded because they were obviously examples of, in some cases, mildly amusing misprints, as in

Sex-related businesses cannot not operate within 500 feet of residences, schools, houses of worship (…).

Almost all instances in our material contain can (34 tokens) or could (16 tokens); only a few other modals and do were found in around 300 million words. As illustrated in the examples above, virtually all instances were found in direct quotations, which suggests that we are dealing with a colloquial construction. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that most examples contained the contracted form (an exception is (5) above), which avoids the jarring juxtaposition of two identical words (not not) after each other. It should also be mentioned that in contrast to the negation so not discussed above, can’t/couldn’t not does not appear to be increasing or decreasing in use, if we are to judge from our NYT material.

We can conclude the following regarding this type of double negation: (i) it is informal, (ii) it tends to involve contracted forms of can’t and couldn’t, and (iii) it does not appear to be increasing or decreasing in frequency.

ML

6. As a teacher I have often used the adjective didactic as the equivalent to the Swedish didaktisk, but I have a feeling these two words do not really mean the same. What do your corpora indicate regarding the use of

didactic in English?

There do indeed seem to be differences between, for instance, Swedish and English in this respect. Although

Nationalencyklopedins ordbok

and the

Oxford English Dictionary

indicate that both didaktik and didactics refer to

'the science or art of teaching', this meaning is rarely found in our English corpora. Overall, the noun didactics is extremely rare in English with no instances at all in the British National Corpus (100 million words), and only four instances in six years' editions of The New York Times (300 million words). The adjective didactic is more common, occurring between once and twice per million words in both the BNC and NYT, which is roughly the same frequency for didaktisk in Swedish corpora ( Språkbanken ). This similarity in frequency is interesting in view of a comparison between the adjectives pedagogic(al) and the Swedish adjective pedagogisk . In a previous issue we discussed the adjectives pedagogic and pedagogical (

GTN 04:4

), and one of the findings was that the adjective

pedagogisk is more than ten times more frequent in the Swedish corpus, than pedagogic and pedagogical are in our English corpora.

Even though the English and Swedish adjectives have similar frequencies in the present case, there are two important differences. The first major difference is that didactic is rarely used in connection with teaching in general language, as in (1), but instead is more often used to describe art, theatre and fiction, as illustrated in (2) to

(4).

(1) For example, a school may judge that developing "lively and enquiring minds" among its students requires certain teaching styles, namely a move away from didactic teaching to active student participation. (BNC)

(2) The story is not written in a didactic style. Mercifully, the storyteller does not preach, nor tell us what to think.

(BNC)

(3) Both series make their points forcefully, but like much didactic art don't invite a second look. (NYT 1994)

(4) Some art does this, but it often fails or becomes too didactic . (NYT 1990)

The second major difference, which is also illustrated in the examples above, is that didactic very often has negative connotations in English, a fact which is recognized by the Macquarie Dictionary’s definition "inclined to teach or lecture others too much: a didactic old professor". These negative connotations are illustrated further in

(5) to (8) below, where this adjective co-occurs with several negative words, such as poorly edited, downright

irritating, hectoring ('to speak to someone in an angry, threatening way'), dull and schoolmarmish ('a woman who is considered to be old-fashioned, strict and easily shocked').

(5) 'Remaking Society' is a strident, didactic, poorly edited and downright irritating book (…) (NYT 1990)

(6) Fortunately, Mr. Winokur's iconic objects are in no way didactic or hectoring. (NYT 1990)

(7) As a plot idea, it's not bad. In execution, it is didactic, dull, too full of technical details that take over the story.

(NYT 1990)

(8) He isn't didactic or – one hesitates to use the word – schoolmarmish. (NYT 2000)

Furthermore, the typically negative connotations are richly illustrated by the adverbial modifiers used with

didactic. In (9) and (10) we see the modifiers infuriatingly and stuffily ('too formal and old-fashioned'). Other negative adverbs in the material include annoyingly, excessively, irritatingly, overly and tediously.

(9) The exercise may prove infuriatingly didactic, but this is, after all, a school. (NYT 1996)

(10) It was a sweet program. But, without growing stuffily didactic, it could have been pedagogically enlightening as well as entertaining. (NYT 1997)

It should be mentioned, however, that some instances have neutral or even positive connotations, as seen in (11):

(11) (…) a belief in the Russian church as a force for discipline (more Orthodox than Christian) and in the great,

didactic Russian literary traditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries as an antidote to Western decadence (…)

(NYT 1996)

Finally, we will consider the noun didacticism ('the practice or quality of being didactic or aiming at the conveyance of instruction' (OED)). This noun is rare, but clearly more frequent than didactics, occurring once per every four to five million words in the BNC and NYT. Even though the OED's definition cited above seems to be have neutral connotations, our material suggests that negative connotations are quite frequent with this word as well. For instance, there were three instances of lapse into didacticism (as in (12)) and two instances of suffer from

didacticism (as in (13)). Other negative collocates in the material include dry, dull and tedious.

(12) This isn't a great play; it does lapse into didacticism from time to time (…) (NYT 2000)

(13) More restrained but suffering from a similar didacticism is Shirin Neshat’s ‘Face to Face with God’ (…)

(NYT 1996)

We can conclude this lexical study with a caution to non-native speakers of English. The adjective didactic and the noun didacticism seem to have rather specialized uses in present-day English: in general language they are more often used in discussions of art rather than of teaching, and, above all, they tend to be connected to irritation, stuffiness and dullness, which is quite the opposite of what many Swedish teachers associate with the words. It may be the case that these results are due to the general nature of our material, and that there may be specific technical uses of the words. Non-native speakers should nevertheless try their best to avoid misunderstandings when they use these words, for instance by using positive adjectives.

ML

7. What’s the story with single and double quotation marks in English?

One of our readers has noted that the use of quotation marks varies in English – sometimes single ones are used, and sometimes double. For answering this question our corpora are not the best source. Instead we have turned to a number of reference works, in particular the very serious and professional Chicago Manual of Style and the more humorous but nevertheless informative Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.

Regarding double or single, there are some differences between British and American English. In American

English, double quotation marks are almost always used around quoted words, phrases and sentences in a text. In

British English, on the other hand, single quotation marks (often called inverted commas) are often but not always used with the same function. In both varieties, if there is a quotation inside the quotation, it is enclosed in the reverse sign: single if the outer is double, and double if the outer is single.

Apart from being used to mark what a person actually said, quotation marks have some other useful applications.

One is irony: to mark words that you use but don't approve of or believe in, like in the following example:

(1) We had lunch with my grandfathers's new "girlfriend".

Lynne Truss aptly calls such quotation marks "linguistic rubber gloves". A similar use of quotation marks is to mark a term that a writer is not willing to take responsibility for, as in this example from the Chicago Manual of

Style:

(2) Five villages were subjected to "pacification."

Such quotation marks are sometimes called "scare quotes". Note the American way in this example of placing the last quotation mark after the full stop, where Swedes and Britons prefer to put it after the quoted word. However, even the Americans put the single quotation mark inside the punctuation when it is used to mark a special term:

(3) He had not defined the term 'categorical imperative'.

Another use of single quotation marks is to give the meaning of quoted words in linguistics texts (while discussed word forms are given in italics):

(4) The Swedish word hund 'dog' is related to the English word hound.

Then there are instances when you should not use quotation marks, single or double. Lynn Truss mentions the decorative use on signs in shops and restaurants (frequent also in Swedish): "Pizzas" etc. One wonders whether these are really pizzas or perhaps just something vaguely pizza-like.

Finally a word about typography. If you use typographical quotation marks in English the left quotation mark should be up-side-down as compared to the right one (typographers sometimes call this 66-99 to mimic the form of the signs). If your Word document is set on Swedish, you will get the incorrect forms 99-99 and need to change the document language to English.

In conclusion, we can note that there are some fine differences between in particular American English and

Swedish when it comes to the placement of punctuation in relation to quotation marks, and between British

English on the one hand and American English and Swedish on the other hand when it comes to the preferred form of the quotation marks. However, if you decide to use double quotation marks according the Swedish rules you will be right most of the time!

HL

3. ICT in English teaching

Young people use English outside school like never before – chatting, playing computer games and role plays, searching for information about football stars, music and Harry Potter on the Internet. Couldn't we make use of this interest of theirs and bring their spare time worlds into the English classroom? Still, at many schools, computer use is restricted to writing essays, finding information on the Web and possibly communicating with teachers via email or using the odd PowerPoint demonstration in an oral presentation.

Introducing the world of our youngsters into the classroom is the main idea of a new project, mainly funded by KKstiftelsen and involving Växjö University, Högskolan i Kalmar and Blekinge Tekniska Högskola. The project includes a number of small working groups, consisting of teachers, teacher trainers and teacher trainees.

One of these working groups is called IKT i engelskundervisningen (ICT in the teaching of English), and is lead by two colleagues, Marianne Sandberg and Ibolya Maricic, and myself. The group further comprises two trainee teachers and ten teachers at various schools and levels from Växjö and its surroundings.

The aim of our working group is to analyse needs among teachers in schools and provide opportunities for teachers and teacher trainees to meet, exchange ideas and learn more about how ICT can be used effectively in language learning. My colleagues and I are certainly no computer experts, but that's the whole point. We want to show people that you don't need to know a lot about computers in order to make use of their potentials for enhancing language learning. Our experience is that the use of ICT is far too often advocated by experts who are so fascinated by the technique that they tend to forget to relate it to a subject content. As a teacher of English, how can I use computers in my teaching?

There are a lot of things that can be done when ICT is introduced into language learning. Here are but some examples:

* communication via chat, mailing lists, role-playing etc.

* students producing their own material (blogs, newspapers, magazines, brochures etc.)

* compensatory aids for students with reading and writing disabilities

* on-line dictionaries and encyclopaedias

* on-line newspapers, radio programs etc.

* websites created for language learning purposes

* other websites that can be used for language-learning purposes (e.g. the websites of museums and organizations or websites created for learning purposes other than language learning)

The last item on my list is in fact the one that I find particularly interesting. There is just so much out there waiting to be used for language learning purposes!

As for possible pedagogical gains, the Internet and other forms of ICT can, besides giving us an opportunity to come closer to and learning more about the world of our students, provide (for instance):

* a large amount of authentic material (so much more than what's in the textbook!)

* opportunities for authentic communication (something that foreign language teachers often encourage their students to engage in, but which may be difficult to achieve)

* variation and stimulation (a vaste range of material, multi-media etc.)

* a more student-centred approach to language learning (less focus on the teacher and the textbook)

* a more creative approach to language learning (students creating their own material)

* opportunities for catering for the aspect of individualization (different learning styles, levels of knowledge etc.)

If you're interested in finding out more about the Ung kommunikation project and/or our working group, go to...

http://www.ungkommunikation.se/

You will come to our working group by clicking on "Temagrupper" and "IKT i engelska". Here you will also find a large number of links to useful websites of various kinds. I have written about some of these sites in previous issues of GTN (and there are two more tips in this issue), but in this list you will find a lot more than those.

You can also go directly to our blog, where we try to keep the world updated about what's going on in the project: http://iktiengelska.blogg.se/

And should you be interested in my coming to your school to talk with you about ICT and how you can use it in your teaching, just send me an e-mail ( [email protected]

).

Finally, in the future we hope to be able to offer a distance course on ICT and language teaching. Since such a course requires a certain minimum number of students, you're very welcome to let us know if you'd be interested, and we'll put you on our mailing list and let you know as soon as we know more.

ME

4. Web tips

Become a WebRanger – explore American national parks!

“If you love our National Parks, Monuments and Historic Sites, this site is for you.” This is a quote from a site called WebRangers, a site provided by the National Park Service of the United States: http://www.nps.gov/webrangers/

As a WebRanger you can have fun while learning about national parks and how their Park Rangers help protect natural resources and cultural heritage at the same time as improving your English. The WebRanger site provides mysteries and puzzles to be solved, games to be played, stories to take part in and secret words to be gathered.

First of all, you can choose between three different levels – easy (ages 6 and up), medium (ages 10 and up) and difficult (ages 13 and up) – and between three different tour types: adventure tours, exploration tours and

discovery tours. Once you have done this, there is also a vast range of activities to choose between. For instance, you can find out how animals live in Yellowstone National Park, what to pack for a hiking tour or learn about fire fighting tools.

Do like Christer Fuglesang – enter space with NASA!

Did you know that NASA has an excellent website with activities for children and teenagers at various ages? Go to http://www.nasa.gov

Here you can read texts and see video clips, find out what astronauts wear in space and how they prepare for going into space, colour a space shuttle and find out how it is prepared for launch, learn about the universe, hear an astronaut answer students’ questions, play games and much more. The site is divided into different sections depending on its audience: “kids”, “students” (K-4, 5-8, 9-12 and post secondary) or “educators”.

ME

5. GramTime publications

Click on the following link to see what has been published by the members of the GramTime project: http://www.vxu.se/hum/forskn/projekt/gramtime/publications.xml

6. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected] We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

with the following message: subscribe.

7. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in February 2007.

Institutionen för humaniora

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7. Postadress: 351 95 Växjö

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88

Uppdaterad/kontrollerad 2007-12-20

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

02:1, March 2002

Welcome to the fifteenth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Roy Liddle, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

Although spring in our part of the world has begun early, GTN is off to a late start – due to the editor-in-chief, as always, rather than the managing and contributing editors. However, here we are!

According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, contraction refers to “1. A very strong and painful movement of a muscle, especially around the womb during the process of birth, (…) 3. A shortened form of a word or words.” In this issue, Magnus Levin has decided to deal with the latter phenomenon only. He also sheds new corpus light on the well-known difference between the constructions “We talked about him/his moving to a new apartment” and returns to one of his favourite pastimes: sport(s).

Maria’s favourite pastime, as we all know by now, is prepositions, and this time she is on the level about satire of/ on, prize for/in and at/on a level. She is also able to contradict the grammar books on the use of so…as: it frequently occurs in positive statements too!

Knowledge about the history and culture of anglophone countries is an important factor in learning the language, and this issue’s web tip gives you a window on American history. Enjoy!

Hans Lindquist Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. I have problems with contractions of verbs (don't instead of do not, he's instead of he is). I learnt at school that contractions are avoided in writing, but that is obviously not true. Please share your wisdom on the subject.

Contraction, which involves the reduction of a linguistic form so that it becomes attached to another linguistic unit, occurs with negations and verbs in English. Thus we may find the negation not contracted with auxiliaries

(don't, won't, mightn't) instead of using the full forms (do not, will not, might not), and different verb forms contracted with their subjects (I'm, you've, I'd, he's) instead of the full forms (I am, you have, I had/would, he is/

has).

Here are some examples of various types:

(1) Somehow, I'm sure that wild animals have a sixth sense that tells them they're safe, even in the presence of their arch-enemy, man. (written BrE, Gardeners' World)

(2) If you're worried that you've recently take a risk, go to the special STD clinic at your local hospital. (written

BrE, ACET AIDS leaflets.)

(3) Some days after I'd been to the supermarket for the week's shopping I'd be smashed, there'd be nothing left.

(written BrE, Wigan Pier revisited)

(4) He's a sexist jerk anyway, I've never lived with him. (written BrE, How do I look?)

It should be observed that contractions cannot always substitute for the full form. Contraction is not possible in

(5) below, where the verb phrase occurs at the end of the sentence.

(5) Sometimes he just wanders off for days on end – we get frantic, not knowing where he is. (written BrE, social science)

All the various types of contraction make it impossible to study this area comprehensively, so we'll base most of this discussion on what others have found. We looked at two main sources: Biber et al's Longman Grammar of

Spoken and Written English (1999:1128-32) and a term paper written at Växjö University in 2001 by Ingemar

Porse.

Contractions are generally used in speech, but they have spread to writing. As a rule, contractions are more common in less formal contexts. Biber et al (1999: 1129) write that "[t]he common occurrence of contractions in fiction and (to a lesser extent) in news can be largely explained by the direct reporting of spoken discourse in those registers". Porse's study is therefore especially interesting, since it focused on the contracted and noncontracted forms in non-quoted text in two British newspapers. He looked at one "quality" paper, The Times, and one tabloid, Today. One substantial, but hardly surprising, finding was that contractions were consistently more common in the tabloid than in the quality paper (see Tables 2 and 3). This is probably an indication that the less formal style in Today allows for more contractions.

Biber et al give the following approximate proportions of contractions in conversation, fiction, newspaper text and academic texts.

Table 1. The use of contractions in four genres (based on Biber et al 1999)

Conversation Fiction News Academic

75% 45% 10% 2%

be

100% 75% 60% 5%

don't nearly

Two main points are demonstrated in the table: stylistic differences and the different ratios of contractions with different phrases. First, the table confirms that contractions are the most common in genres that are closer to spoken language. Second, the table shows that do not is contracted to don't more often than various forms of be are contracted with their subjects. This point was also investigated by Porse, who found striking differences between different contractions, as can be seen from the tables below. The author only looked at a few selected contractions, but these were among the most frequent. It is noteworthy that contractions are particularly common with pronoun subjects. (It should be stressed that the tables below only contain instances from non-

quoted text.)

Table 2. The use of contractions with be in The Times and Today (based on Porse)

The Times

he's she's it's that's there's

5% 11% 14% 13% 5%

32% 29% 47% 50% 25%

Today

Table 3. The use of contractions with not in The Times and Today (based on Porse) don't doesn't couldn't

The Times

47% 22% 14%

87% 58% 45%

Today

As can be seen, the journalists of Today consistently used more contractions than those from The Times. It is also striking that don't is so very frequent in the material. In the tabloid the journalists used the contracted form in seven out of eight cases, while in The Times it was almost one out of two. In contrast he is is only contracted to

he's in, respectively, 32% and 5% of the instances. Both which genre it is and which phrase it is seem to be important factors in the choice between contracted and non-contracted forms.

The following example sheds some light on the differences between different contractions. The authors have opted for he is and he will, but do not has been contracted to don't.

(6) In your partner: let him know how much he is loved and needed and don't talk about the baby too much or

he will feel shut out. (written BrE, social science)

We will now look at usage in scientific writing. It is interesting to see how contractions are used in scholarly publications, because our students often use quite a few contractions when they write their papers. We looked at the category "Scientific" in the British National Corpus (BNC) in order to compare contractions in some books. The result was as expected with most publications. Most works included in this category produced few contractions or none at all. The names of these books ranged from The Problems of Biology to An Introduction to British

Constitutional Law and Hearing loss. A Guide to Self-help. Some volumes proved to contain contractions in a majority of cases with don't/do not. These books included titles such as The Blind Watchmaker (which deals with evolution) and, rather mysteriously, Gardener's World. It therefore seems that at least some of the books which have been included in the category "Science" in this corpus and which contain quite large proportions of contractions hardly belong to the scientific category. It is therefore safe to recommend students to stick to the full forms in their academic writing.

As you may have noticed, GTN generally uses the more formal option of avoiding contractions. As seen above, contractions tend to be avoided in academic writing, so we'll continue to write do not and he is instead of don't and he's in most cases.

ML

2. In school I learnt that adjectival comparisons with so ... as should be used in negative statements only (whereas as ... as can be used in both affirmative and negative clauses). Are native speakers consistent in their usage? I think I have seen it used in affirmative clauses as well.

It is true that grammars generally state that so ... as is used in negative clauses only. Svartvik & Sager in their

Swedish university grammar of English, for instance, write that as ... as is the more frequent combination in both negative and affirmative clauses and that so ... as occurs in negative clauses, especially in a more formal style.

Gleerups engelska grammatik also mentions so ... as as an alternative in negative clauses only. So, do native speakers use so ... as only in negative clauses?

The answer to this question is a firm "no" – at least if we are to judge from our corpus results. First, we can

confirm the statement by Svartvik & Sager that as ... as is much more frequent than so ... as overall. In the material consisting of around 25 million words of British and American spoken and written English, we found around twelve times as many instances of as ... as (4777) as of so ... as (394). Out of the so ... as construction,

22 % occurred in negative clauses, as in (1), or in affirmative clauses with a negative word (mainly nothing or

none) preceding the comparative construction, as in (2), and 78% occurred in ordinary affirmative clauses, as in

(3). We could not observe any dialectal or stylistic differences in the material.

(1) I missed Jenny for quite along time and a cat is not so companionable as a dog, (...) (written British English)

(2) There is nothing so comfortable as your own safe skin! (written American English)

(3) So long as a person stays on benefit we guarantee them payments for their debt and I think that we should really rise in focus on the other particularly the fuel companies (...) (spoken British English)

Obviously, the statement that so ... as constructions only occur in negative clauses (or contexts) does not tally very well with reality – so ... as is in fact much more common in affirmative than in negative contexts.

Also observe the use of so ... as in combination with infinitive clauses, as in (4). These tokens were not included in the figures above, since as ... as is never used here.

(4) And if he was ever so unlucky as to be found sprawled from nervous collapse upon some frozen sidewalk or upon the floor of the Post Office (...) (written American English)

ME

3. The Olympic Games have made me think about the words sports and sport. When do you use one and when do you use the other?

The answer is slightly more complicated than we may be lead to believe if we read The Longman Dictionary of

Contemporary English. Without dialectal labels this dictionary gives a few compound nouns beginning with sports:

sports centre, sports car, sports coat and sports jacket. The nouns beginning with the -s less form, sport, such as

sport car and sport jacket, are claimed to be American.

What did our corpora tell us? Well, to begin with car, club and pages were only or almost only preceded by

sports. Below are some examples from the British National Corpus (BNC) and The New York Times 1995 (NYT):

(1) But this is no sports car: (NYT)

(2) She'd rejoined the sports club she used to belong to before she'd allowed her membership to lapse during her time with Arnie. (BNC)

(3) The sports pages are a good section to tackle because the soccer game, bicycle race, etc., gives a certain structure to the story. (NYT)

There were only a handful exceptions among many hundreds of these nouns. It therefore seems a bit odd to call

sport car "AmE", as the proportions in NYT were 76-0 for sports car. With these words, the normal choice simply seems to be sports.

One of the few exceptions to this is particularly noteworthy because even the author of the article (in The Sydney

Morning Herald) considered the use of sport car to be worth two exclamation marks:

(4) While BMW took top spot in the luxury car class, the Chevy Corvette was ranked as the best sport car (!!), the BMW Three Series the favourite mid-sizer and Volkswagen's Golf the best small car. (SMH)

Apparently, clothes are a slightly different matter from cars, clubs and pages when it comes to sport(s). In AmE there were about equal proportions of sports coats, sports jackets, sports shirts and sports shoes on the one hand, and sport coats, sport jackets, sport shirts and sport shoes on the other. (Sport in fact clinched a slight majority with 28 out of 52 tokens.) Below are some examples from NYT:

(5) Can Reeves pull a rabbit out of his sports coat and turn the team into a winner? (NYT)

(6) I'm not advocating blue jeans, but if you're decked out in black tie when it's more of a semiformal, i.e., a

sport coat for a man, you'll feel a little uncomfortable. Better to be underdressed than overdressed. (NYT)

(7) Rodman will wear a sports jacket, but usually it is without a shirt. (NYT)

(8) 'But,' he said later, cheerfully, clad in a tan plaid sport jacket and with a diamond earring sparkling, 'I'm back.' (NYT)

(9) Now, he wears a sports shirt to his new office, a cubicle over a drive-up branch on a suburban highway. (NYT)

(10) He was wearing a sport shirt and shorts. (NYT)

(11) (…) the outstanding pair of swingers were dressed as if they had just dropped in from a hiking trip, complete with heavy-duty sports shoes, usually not recommended for ballroom. (NYT)

(12) He says of men like Liggett, 'In 1930 you would see them on the roads of Long Island and Westchester, in cap and windbreaker and sport shoes, (…) (NYT)

In BrE (and possibly also AusE), it seems that only sports is used with garments that are associated with sport(s), while AmE, as seen above, may use either.

This brings us to our last point, namely whether Americans and Britons say in sport or in sports. In this case there is more variation in BrE than in AmE. The two alternatives are seen in (13) to (16) below.

(13) The vast majority of the black sportsmen have aspirations of detaching themselves from the routines of school, employment -- or unemployment -- and wringing out a career in sports, even athletics, ostensibly an amateur sport but bountiful enough in "gifts" and sponsorships to make it a lucrative career. (written BrE)

(14) In the early 50's, Didrikson was the star of the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour, which gave women their first real opportunity to have careers in sport, like men. (NYT)

(15) I do not mean to distinguish here between "work" and "leisure"; nor am I arguing, on the basis of such a distinction, that "education for leisure" is just as important as "education for work", a thesis often defended by those anxious to justify education in sports or indeed in the arts. (written BrE)

(16) There must have been several dozen possible suggestions for an essay from that paper -- political, industrial, military (the Korean war was still ongoing), in sport or arts, etc. etc. (written BrE)

Americans overwhelmingly prefer in sports, which means that (14) is an exception. In BrE, on the other hand, in

sport was clearly the most frequent alternative.

To conclude, then, sports is used in connection with cars, clubs and pages in AmE, BrE and AusE. With pieces of clothing, BrE and AusE adhere to the same rule, while AmE uses either sport or sports. In addition, Americans are usually interested in sports, whereas Britons tend to be interested in sport. Of course, learners who are stressed out by all the rules in English don't have to learn all these details. It's enough for most people to know that sports is always possible to use.

ML

4. What's the difference in style between We talked about him moving to a new apartment and We

talked about his moving to a new apartment?

This variation between the object form (him, them) and the possessive (his, their) is exemplified in (1) - (4) with tokens from BrE speech, BrE scientific text and The New York Times (NYT). (Note the use in (2) of his in reference to a generic child - a usage question we discussed in GTN 00:3!)

(1) But you see with him being ill, he worries about not being able to bring money in. (spoken BrE)

(2) Fratter (1989) adds that "the belief that the welfare of a deprived child was best served by his being prevented from having contact with his family - that their interests were in conflict - remained largely unchallenged". (BrE, scientific text)

(3) 'Many kids are very angry at their parents for things they did, and they blame it on them being gay,' said

Nathaniel Selig, 17, the son of Linda and John Selig. 'I can't do that. For me, my father being gay has nothing to do with the way he parents me.' (NYT)

(4) Myers said that oxygen concentrators are often used to treat altitude sickness at the hospital, but he had not heard of their being available as preventative devices. (NYT)

Svartvik & Sager note in their university grammar (1996:330) that him is "natural in informal style" whereas his sometimes gives a too formal impression. We could therefore expect him/them to be the normal alternative in speech, while his/their is more frequent in formal writing.

As for speech, our spoken AmE corpus yielded only instances of him/them and not a single one of his/their. Our spoken BrE material produced a similar picture with only a handful instances of his/their out of a hundred. It therefore seems safe to recommend learners to use the object form in informal contexts.

What about formal writing? Well, we looked at scientific writing from the British National Corpus (BNC) and texts from The New York Times. The scientific texts used the formal alternative in about three out of four instances. In

NYT we looked a bit more closely at the figures and found his/their to be used in 85% (50 out of 59) of the tokens in the text written by journalists. In quotations, the less formal alternative him/them predominated with

his/their reaching only 35% (12 out of 34). This proportion of his/their is much higher in the quotations in NYT than in our spoken corpora. This suggests either that the spoken quotations in NYT come from more formal speech (press conferences, interviews) than our corpora of spoken language do, or it may be the case that the quotations have been adjusted to the norm of formal writing style in NYT.

Below are some additional examples of both alternatives.

(5) 'It was wrong, with him being a police officer,' she said. (NYT)

(6) Even while limping around a la Willis Reed, Ewing has had to deal with snide reactions to his being badly outplayed by the emerging Smits. (NYT)

(7) I would put money on them being what are called K P R. (spoken BrE)

(8) Both children dutifully went through a training that included a ritualized candlelight ceremony and culminated

in their being given secret mantras for their first 10-minute meditations on their own. (NYT)

As could be expected, our comparisons indicate that generally him/them is preferred in speech, while his/their is preferred in formal writing. It is interesting to note that the alternative which Svartvik & Sager referred to as being highly formal nevertheless clearly predominates in BrE scientific writing and in The New York Times. It rather seems that this is the "normal" alternative in formal writing. I don't know if the style in GTN is formal enough to warrant the use of the more formal alternative, but spreading knowledge about alternatives in English is an important aim of our newsletter.

ML

5. Do you make a satire of or on something and win the Nobel Prize for or in a certain subject?

Did you fear I had missed out on the prepositions this time? Don't worry, there seems to be no end to the area, and here's one brief report on two constructions (the next article contains another one). This time dialectal variation seems to be involved.

As for satire, dictionaries tend to say on, but what do our corpora say? There were not so many instances of

satire plus a preposition in the first place. In the Cobuild corpus, we found 22 occurrences of satire on, as in (1) and 12 examples of satire of, as in (2).

(1) She also wrote her wicked satire on sex, surf and shenanigans Down Under, Girls' Night Out, which is now being reissued. (written British English)

(2) (...) he managed to turn out a provocatively favorable review of Barbara Garson's MacBird, an irreverent

satire of the political establishment by way of a burlesque of Shakespeare's Macbeth. (written American English).

All of these uses of on occurred in British material, whereas half of the examples of of were American. Similarly,

The New York Times (from 1995) had more instances of of (28) than of on (18), whereas The Independent (also from 1995) had 63 tokens of on and 15 tokens of of. Furthermore, in the British National corpus there was a

majority of tokens of on (41 compared to 13 tokens of of). The results thus indicate that on is preferred in British

English, whereas of is preferred in American English, even though both prepositions are used in both dialects.

The second question concerns the word prize, where dictionaries have for as the only alternative. We looked at examples with the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and similar (named) awards followed by a name of a scientific subject or the like, such as literature and chemistry. We found both prepositions in our corpora, as can be seen in examples (3) and (4).

(3) Dr Prusiner won the Nobel Prize for Medicine last year for his work on prions – the infectious agents thought to cause BSE and CJD. (written British English)

(4) The winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine are two American biochemists, Edmond Fischer and Edwin

Krebs. (American radio)

In the British texts for was far more frequent than in (the great majority of tokens with both prepositions including the Nobel Prize). The 60-million-word Cobuild Direct corpus contained 40 instances of for, whereas in only occurred in 10 examples. Seven out of the ten tokens of in were from American texts, even though there is far more British than American material in the corpus, so it might be that prize in is mainly an American construction. The British National corpus had 50 tokens of for and only 7 tokens of in. The comparison of newspapers (from 1995) again confirmed the results: The Independent had 76 cases of prize for and only 4 cases of prize in, whereas The New York Times had 39 tokens of prize for and 69 of prize in.

ME

6. Which preposition should be used before the word level, at or on?

Dictionaries tend to give a fairly confusing picture of how to use at and on in combination with level. The three books we looked at provide a number of example sentences, some with at, some with on, and some with both prepositions, and readers are left to draw their own conclusions. The Cambridge International Dictionary, for instance, has at with noun phrases like local level, political level and intermediate level, either at or on with street

level, another level and deeper level, whereas on is presented as the single alternative in on a more serious level.

The Longman Advanced Learner's Dictionary and the Collins Cobuild Dictionary are similarly fuzzy. Sometimes the dictionaries contradict each other as well.

We used our corpora to look at constructions with at and on plus level, with one or two words in between. Both prepositional constructions were frequent, but at, as in (1), was about three times more frequent than on, as in

(2), overall in the material (more than 100 million words of written and spoken British and American texts).

(1) And at the street level it's just a row of glass doors and sort of two glass windows a glass window at either end I think. (spoken British English)

(2) On a societal level, the War on Drugs is a prime example of attempted first-order change and is, in effect, an addictive society's approach to the drug problem. (written British English)

If we compare British and American material, we find that on was more frequent in the American texts than in the British ones in all the corpora, as can be seen in the table below. On was also slightly more frequent in speech than in writing, which might indicate that it is considered somewhat less formal than at.

at on

Total written British texts 412 (76%) 130 (24%) 542 written American texts 203 (66%) 104 (34%) 307 spoken British spoken American

306 (72%) 117 (28%) 423

77 (55%) 63 (45%) 140

The Independent

1737 (85%) 3329(16%) 2066

The New York Times

1108 (64%) 611 (36%) 1719

The prepositional use in combination with level seems to reflect a tendency that can be discerned regarding quite a few phrases including English prepositions. There is fairly often a difference between British and American

English prepositional usage in a certain construction, but this difference is seldom absolute. It is simply not often that the great majority of Britons use one preposition and the great majority of Americans use another (in the

street in British English and on the street in American being one of the exceptions, cf. my article on prepositions in Studies in Mid-Atlantic English, referred to in the publication list below). Much more often one preposition is preferred in both varieties (such as at X level), and then there is an alternative one that is more frequent in one dialect than in the other (on X level in American English).

There are some fixed expressions including level where there seems to be no variation at all, neither according to the dictionaries nor in our corpora: at eye level with ('at the same level as one's eyes'), as in (3), on a level with

('on (or at!) the same level as'), as in (4) and on the level ('honest'), as in (5).

(3) From where Leaphorn stood by the gallery window on the floor above, he was almost at eye level with the great bird. (written American English)

(4) Re-reading it in 1990, for the first time in forty-three years, I was struck afresh by the epic sweep of its narrative: a masterpiece in the tradition of the great Russian novelists, on a level with, say, Dostoevsky or

Tolstoy. (written British English)

(5) All Marlette's instincts told him that it was a trap. But what if Coughlin had been on the level? (written

American English)

We also investigated some other constructions with level (exemplified in the dictionaries) a bit further, using the

3785 examples from The Independent and The New York Times, to see how prepositions were used with these particular items. First we picked out three concrete noun phrases (street, ground and (X-)floor level). The

Cambridge dictionary exemplifies such constructions with at/on, whereas Longman has just on. Interestingly, the corpus search yielded 110 examples of at and only 19 tokens of on (18 of them from the American paper). The dictionaries have at in noun phrases expressing standard of some kind, and here we chose to look at the noun phrases advanced, beginner('s), high(er/est), intermediate and low(er/est) level. It is true that at was the most common preposition (284 tokens), but there were also 39 cases of on (the majority again in the American material). We further investigated local, national and international level (at in the dictionaries), and found that on was also quite frequent (especially in American English): 248 at, 70 on overall. The Cambridge dictionary claims that you say at or on another/deeper level, but on a more serious level. We found no cases of a more serious

level in the two newspaper corpora, but 40 cases of on another/deeper level and 16 examples with at. The

Longman dictionary finally has on a/the practical/personal level. To some extent, the corpora confirmed this claim, since there were almost five times as many cases of on as of at (46 vs. 10). It seems that we can draw the conclusion that, apart from a few fixed expressions, there is no real consistency in the way native speakers use prepositions in combination with the word level, and that dictionaries sometimes don't have a clue about actual usage!

ME

3. Useful websites

What about a history class in English?

Did you know there is a website where you can get a history class in English each day of the year? At Today's

history, your students can read about interesting events in (mainly American) history, and then use these facts for further exploration of the English language. They could, for instance, write essays about people and events described, dramatize historic events, write fictional letters to historic people described etc. In each article, there are cross-references (by means of electronic links) to other articles on the topics mentioned. You will also find a huge archive where you and your students can search for anything of interest, either by topic or by date. Here is a small selection of previously published articles:

First American Cotton Mill (about American textile industry)

Mr. Watson come here I want to see you. (about Alexander Graham Bell and his invention of the telephone)

Air Raid on Pearl Harbor (about the Japanese attack in World War II)

Ernest Hemingway

DC Abolishes the Slave Trade (about the abolishment of slavery in the District of Columbia)

The Depths of Depression (about "The Great Crash" of the American stock market in 1929)

Today's history is located at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/today/today.html

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

––– . 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

––– . Forthcoming. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Tvärvetenskaplig forskning inom lärarutbildningen.

Om kärnämnesproblematiken. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English.

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies 6, 1-16. Journal of Japan Association for English Corpus Studies. 1999.

·

–––. 1999c. Corpora and dictionaries. In The Perfect Learners' Dictionary. Lexicographica, Series Maior. Thomas

Herbst & Kerstin Popp (eds). .. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 1999.

·

–––. 1999d. Bidrag till Synpunkter på en svensk grammatik. Inlägg vid Svenska Akademiens grammatiksymposium 4-5 mars 1985, 69 -74. Stockholm: Norstedts.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter,

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in May 2002.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

**************

00:2, June 2000

Welcome to the ninth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling , MA

Contributing editors: Jan Svartvik , Prof Em and Magnus Levin , MA

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

At this time of the year time goes real quick (or is it really quickly?). It flies so fast, indeed, that this May issue of

GTN will be reaching you in June. And we can't even blame the postal services. But we are busy reading student papers, one of which in fact says (almost) everything about quick/quickly and slow/slowly. We hope to be able to tell you the whole story in our September issue in October.

In the present issue, Maria unveils some quite shocking verbal practices in both America and Great Britain, and continues to enlighten us about prepositional usage, while our staff feminist Magnus solves the female mystique, or at least the women pronunciation riddle, and describes the current state of the art in referring to people of the so-called second sex. He also tells us everything we never wanted to know about agreement with either, neither

and none.

We all wish you a really great summer, with lots of fun books to read! Do drop us a line when you come across some interesting usage or abusage of the English language.

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. When visiting the States, I have heard people use the preterite form of irregular verbs as past participles (e.g. I have came). How frequent is this usage? Does it only occur in the U.S.?

I looked at preterite forms of some 50 irregular verbs where the preterite and past participle forms are (or can be) different. The material consisted of two corpora of spoken English: one American (c. 5 million words) and one

British (c. 10 million words), both of which contain a number of dialogues in various settings. A problem in connection with corpora of spoken text is that they contain a fairly large amount of transcription error, and one can never be quite sure that what is on the screen is the exact representation of the actual spoken interaction.

One might also hypothesise that some transcribers would correct obvious "errors", such as a preterite form of a verb in the present perfect, the consequence of which would be that there may have been more instances of the preterite form in the original recordings than the written version actually shows.

In the corpus of British English, I found 65 instances of have (in any form) + an irregular verb in preterite form, and the American corpus yielded 93 tokens. These seem to be fairly large figures (even though the number of ordinary past participle forms of course is much higher), especially considering the fact that constructions with an intervening adverbial (such as not or almost) were not included in the search. The corpus results may also suggest that the construction, although used in both varieties investigated, is more frequent in American English.

The American material had almost 19 tokens per million words, whereas the figure in the British material was around 7.

Here are three examples from the corpora:

(1) I had forgot we were being taped. (American)

(2) (...) then they should have came er on the first of April and they rung me up to say they couldn't (...)

(British)

(3) But when I got into his class for history he couldn't have gave me the time of day. (British)

The most frequent constructions were have went, have took and (in the American corpus) have did, examples of which are given in (4) (6):

(4) I would never have went up to my mum's (...) (British)

(5) Oh, for Pete's sakes that's why they had took all the lamps down, but the cooking was all completed and they were all ready to eat ... (American)

(6) I'll tell you when those people glued that tile down on that floor, they must have did a good job. (American)

The reason is probably that these very common verbs are more frequent overall than other words with more semantic content. One could otherwise have expected that less frequent words would be more prone to get preterite forms, owing to uncertainty, also among native speakers, about how more infrequent irregular verbs should be inflected.

One example from the corpus reflects the fact that, even though the use of preterite forms in the present perfect is farily common, it is not considered to be accepted as standard English:

(7) Somebody had wrote in and written in I should say and complained that the Microsoft software manual wasn't very easy to understand (...) (British)

It thus seems advisable not to accept these forms in our pupils' and students' writing.

ME

2. How are the female titles Mrs, Miss and Ms used in present-day English?

Good question. With the advent of feminism and 'political correctness' one might expect that it is becoming increasingly popular to use Ms instead of Miss and Mrs.

Starting with a little bit of background, all three titles are related to the noun mistress and according to the

Longman dictionary Ms is 'a title used before a woman's family name because it is not important to say whether she is married or not, or when you do not know whether she is married or not.' It is not commented on whether it is regarded impolite to point out a woman's marital status. (Ms without a full stop is considered by that dictionary to be the BrE variant and Ms. the AmE way to write the title.)

The question of which title to use when referring to women is a controversial issue that is hotly discussed in

English speaking countries, as can be seen in (1) from The New York Times 1990.

(1) Before her arrival in 1981, Justice O'Connor added, case summaries referred to women lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court as 'Miss' or 'Mrs.,' while there was no honorific for men. 'Now the men are listed as

'Mr.' and the women as 'Ms.,' ' she said. 'None of these changes have affected the way in which any lawsuit has proceeded,' she said, 'but I believe they send an important signal.' (NYT 90)

The material that we studied mainly comprises the 1990 and 1995 CD-ROM editions of The New York Times and

The Independent. Just before our deadline we also got hold of the first three months of the year 2000 for The

Independent. By using different years we may catch a glimpse of linguistic change in progress.

A few points must also be made about the material. All tokens of Mrs Thatcher were excluded from the material from the Ind. The reason for this is that Mrs Thatcher was amazingly frequent in the 1990 edition, representing

47% (!) of all tokens of Mrs, while this percentage had dropped to only 5% in 1995. It is also important to bear in mind that the editorial policy of the newspapers influences the results in this area. If the editors decide that the paper should use Ms instead of Miss and Mrs we would see a sharp increase in the use of the former title.

However, there was a slow but steady increase in the use of Ms for every quarter of 1990 and 1995 in NYT, which may indicate that at least journalists are gradually getting more aware of this issue. Furthermore, it should be remembered that some of the instances of Miss were found in fixed titles of musicals (Miss Saigon), plays

(Strindberg's Miss Julie) and, ahem, beauty contests (Miss World). The overall frequencies of Miss are therefore probably even lower than can be seen from Table 1 below. The percentages refer to the proportions of the various titles in a given year.

Table 1. The use of the titles Ms, Miss and Mrs in The New York Times and The Independent 1990 and 1995 (and

January to March 2000, Ind).

Ms

N

%

Miss

N

%

Mrs

N

%

Ms

N

%

Miss

N

%

Mrs

N

%

NYT 90

28716

47

8623

14

23427

39 IND 90

3559

26

2790

21

7117

53

NYT 95

43654

68

3493

5

17276

27 IND 95

5082

36

2378

17

6499

47

IND 00

2236

53

625

15

1350

32

To begin with, titles are much more common in NYT than in Ind, for some reason. In addition, titles are used more frequently in 1995 than in 1990 in both newspapers, which may be an indication that women are given slightly more space in newspapers (barring the exceptional Mrs Thatcher), or simply that writers have become more careful to use titles with women.

The trend seen most clearly in Table 1 is the increase of Ms in NYT, and for 2000 also in Ind. It seems that AmE is leading the way in the trend towards Ms. In Ind 00 the percentage of Ms is higher than that in NYT 90, so BrE is moving in the same direction as AmE. Another interesting point to note is how very rare Miss is becoming in

NYT.

It seems that there is very little variation with individual women. Once a woman has been called either Ms or Mrs the title appears to be firmly established. Famous examples only used with Mrs are Mrs Thatcher and Mrs Clinton.

Looking a little more closely at the tokens of Miss, we can notice an interesting trend. It seems that this title is mainly used to refer to older women who must have been called Miss before the invention of Ms. This phenomenon is exemplified in (2). Alternatively, Miss is used to refer to very young women, as seen in (3).

(2) Frances Cole (…) died on Oct. 10 (…) She was 94. Miss Cole, who was born in Greenville, Ohio, (…) (NYT 95)

(3) (…) students voiced criticism and support for the 19-year-old Miss Grant, whose admission to Harvard

University was rescinded after it was learned that she had killed her mother (…) (NYT 95)

A further interesting point to note is that the names of some well-known feminists only appear to be used with

Ms, as in (4):

(4) Such stereotypes do not work to illustrate the feminism Ms. Weldon so ardently professes; (NYT)

Interestingly, some women do not want to be called 'Ms', as is evident from (5):

(5) (…) PEGGY POST, who makes her debut as the etiquette columnist of Good Housekeeping magazine in the

September issue. Mrs. Post (don't call her Ms., though she says that's a perfectly fine title) has already started making appearances at bridal shows at department stores. (NYT)

What does the situation look like in spoken language? Well, to begin with it is difficult for people who transcribe the sometimes unclear spoken language to discern between Miss, Ms and Mrs, so it is hard to obtain reliable results here. Anyway, our corpus of spoken AmE indicated that the three titles are used in about equal proportions in spoken language, that is AmE speakers are less 'politically correct' in everyday speech than the writers on NYT are. This shows that the written language, which is more carefully planned, is leading the way in the conscious change from Miss/Mrs to Ms.

ML

3. What is the origin of the noun woman and why is the plural form, women, pronounced so strangely?

The first part of the question is relatively easy to answer. The Old English masculine noun mann referred both to men and women, while wifmann only referred to women, although it also was a masculine noun. In contrast, wif was neuter in Old English. These three forms developed into the present day nouns man, woman and wife.

The second part of the question, why women is pronounced so differently from woman is more difficult to answer.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the rounding of wi- to wu- was established by about 1200, and from

1400 woman and women became regular spellings for the singular and the plural. OED concludes rather vaguely that "in the standard speech the pronunciation (wu-) was ultimately appropriated to the sing. and (wi-) to the pl., probably through the associative influence of pairs like foot and feet."

ML

4. How acceptable and how frequent is the use of plural verbal agreement with subjects consisting of

either, neither and none?

For this question we looked at spoken AmE and BrE (where we found rather few tokens) and written AmE (New

York Times 1995), written BrE (Independent 1995) and written AusE (Sydney Morning Herald). It seems that learners' uncertainty about which verb form to use is shared by native speakers. Subject phrases containing

either or neither are quite often followed by modal verbs, which means that number-specific marking on the verb is avoided in many cases (Neither Bill nor Hillary would comment). This strategy can of course also be applied by uncertain learners.

Two noun phrases co-ordinated with either followed by an inflected verb, as exemplified in (1) and (2), is a highly unusual construction.

(1) There is no suggestion that either Mr Taylor or Mr Gibson faces an adverse finding by the Police Royal

Commission. (written AusE)

(2) (…) French financial markets have shown signs of nervousness about whether either Mr. Jospin or Mr. Chirac

share the commitment made by Mr. Balladur (…) (written AmE)

In the present material it occurred less than once every three million words. The singular seems to be the preferred alternative with 34 tokens against only 8 cases of plural agreement.

Plural agreement appears to be more common after singular subject NPs co-ordinated with neither than with

either. Below are two typical examples in (3) and (4). (It should perhaps be pointed out that the grammar checker in my word processor insists that a singular verb should be used in (4).)

(3) Neither the officer nor the suspect under arrest was injured. (written AmE)

(4) Neither Mr Gingrich nor Mr Dole have appeared on TV since Wednesday morning. (written BrE)

Interestingly, there are clear differences between the newspapers in this study. The plural was most frequent in the BrE paper (42%), least frequent in the AmE one (17%) and intermediate in the AusE one (31%). It is not quite clear how much of this difference depends on regional variation and the individual style guides of the newspapers, however.

Sometimes a singular and a plural NP are co-ordinated with neither. According to some grammars the verb tends to agree with the NP closest to it, while others claim that the plural is the rule irrespective of the order of the subject constituents. The present material shows that the plural is indeed almost exclusively used when the plural

NP comes closest to the verb, as in (5). Furthermore, the plural is slightly more frequent than the singular when the singular NP is closest to the verb, as in (6) below.

(5) And neither he nor the film's other speakers are allowed to go on at length, no matter how interesting what they have to say. (written AmE)

(6) Neither the memos obtained by The Times nor his testimony describe him as informing compliance officers of the problems. (written AmE)

With subjects containing neither of + plural NP, the singular was used in about three quarters of the tokens in all three newspapers, (7) thus being more common than (8).

(7) Again, neither of these charges was ever proven. (written BrE)

(8) Neither of these estimates include dilution costs, which might total $100 million. (written AmE)

With none there seems to be some resistance from purists against the use of plural agreement. For instance, this phenomenon is mentioned by Biber et al in their recent grammar, the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written

English, as being a construction that some people find worth condemning. The writer in (9) from NYT (writing about the obscene and non-obscene usage of the noun bugger) apparently considered it amusing to explain the choice of singular agreement in the first sentence by referring to purists' feelings about linguistic obscenity.

(9) None of these usages is obscene. ('None are' would be obscene to purists.) (written AmE)

If we turn to the authentic use of agreement with none we find that there are clear differences between NYT and

Ind. None alone, as used in (10) and (11) below, is used with plural agreement in 22% of the cases in Ind while a majority of the instances in NYT, 57%, are plural.

(10) Though there have been four recordings, at least two on CD, none is currently available. (written AmE)

(11) Of the 989 rental units in the Gardens, none are currently available. (written AmE)

Plural agreement is even more frequent with subjects consisting of none of and a plural NP. In (12) below is an example of singular agreement and in (13) we have plural agreement. The plural is used in 40% of the tokens in

Ind and 75% of the tokens in NYT and it is even more frequent in speech.

(12) None of the major mobile phone companies was available for comment yesterday. (written BrE)

(13) This time, none of the usual conscience-soothers were available. (written BrE)

In conclusion, plural agreement seems to be quite frequent with either, neither and none, although some people - and computer programmes - still object to this usage.

ML

5. I don't know which preposition to choose! Can your corpora help me?

One area that causes constant problems for non-native speakers of English is the use of prepositions. Since the last issue of GramTime News we have collected a number of constructions where people seem to be uncertain about which preposition is the only possible or the most frequent form. The results of a corpus-study of spoken and written British and American English can be summarised in the following table:

at the beginning/end

Average percentage c.75%

c.25%

in the beginning/end

c.20%

at the receiving end

c.80%

on the receiving end

c.90%

in contrast to

c.10%

in contrast with

c.80%

comparable to

c.20%

comparable with

c.50%

compare (X) to

c.50%

compare (X) with

c.40%

in comparison to

c.60%

in comparison with

c.0%

in connection to

c.100%

in connection with

c.55%

frown on

c.45%

frown upon

These findings call for some comments. With some of the constructions one of the alternatives was clearly predominant. This was the case with in connection to/with (where with was used in virtually all instances), in

contrast to/with (where to was used in 90% of the cases). Also, on the receiving end was four times more frequent than at the receiving end, and comparable to was four times more frequent than comparable with.

At/in the beginning/end too was four times more frequent than in overall. It should be noted, however, that in a construction with an of following the phrase, as shown in (1), at was used as often as in between 98 and 100% of the cases:

(1) I said she should move out at the beginning of August.

In such of-constructions in was slightly more frequent in speech than in writing, and there was sometimes something in the previous context requiring that in should be used, as in (2):

(2) Oh I thought you meant you tore it up into little thin strips and rolled it up and stuck it in the end of a rolling cigarette so you didn't get tobacco in your mouth.

With some prepositional constructions, both alternatives were fairly equally common. This was true of frown on/

upon (where on was just slightly more frequent than upon) and in comparison to/with (where the latter alternative was somewhat more common).

The only case where we can spot a clear dialectal difference was in tokens including the verb compare – and only in expressions where a direct object comes between the verb and the preposition, as in (3):

(3) He compared himself to a fly which can travel a hundred miles because it has hidden itself in a horse's tail.

Here, to was the more frequent alternative in all American corpora and with was more frequent in the British material, whereas there were no such clear differences in constructions where no object occurred between the verb and the preposition. In the latter case the average figures in the table (50–50) are somewhat misleading.

In fact, there was great variation between the different corpora – from 92% to vs. 8% with in a corpus of spoken

American to 81% with vs. 19% to in another American, written source, The New York Times. We could not find any regional or stylistic tendencies in this case.

It is very possible that a more in-depth study would reveal subtle usage differences between alternatives – differences which pass by unnoticed in a quick, quantitative survey like this one. I hope to find the time to come back to such findings in the future.

ME

3. Useful websites

"To IT or not to IT, that's your question" - a paradise for teachers without "net-fright"!

If you listened to the paper by Mike Hegarty at the LMS conference in Gothenburg in April, you can stop reading here, since what I will tell you about now is a website mentioned in his very interesting talk about how to use computers in foreign language teaching. At http://esl.about.com/education/esl/mbody.html

you will find an overview of a large number of useful links to other websites which provide material for classroom activities and interesting information and discussions about the English language. There is, for instance, one site full of (self-correcting) exercises for practising vocabulary in context on the net: http://esl.about.com/homework/esl/blvocab.htm

Another website offers lesson plans for various levels and within several different areas, such as grammar, vocabulary, reading and speaking. If you prefer not to use entire lesson plans that others have devised, you might at least get some ideas for your own teaching. This website can be found at: http://esl.about.com/homework/esl/bllessonplans.htm

Information and exercises concerning differences between British and American English are to be found at: http://esl.about.com/homework/esl/msub21.htm

If you want your students to practise their English by chatting with other pupils or writing to penpals in other countries, you will find chatting rooms and penpal lists at: http://esl.about.com/homework/esl/msub1.htm

There are also a number of links to sites dealing with computer-assisted language learning (CALL) in general, where you will find (among other things) suggestions about how to use the computer and the Internet in the language classroom, software presentations and reviews. The main site about CALL is at:

http://esl.about.com/homework/esl/msub16.htm

And there is a lot more for you to find out for yourself. Happy surfing!

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och

amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. In press. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i forskning och

undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö

University – Humanities.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English.

Marco Modiano (ed.).

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed).

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. In press. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus linguistics and

linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies.

·

–––. In press. Corpora and Dictionaries. The perfect learner’s dictionary. Proceedings from a symposium at

Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik. Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter.

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

Please note that we have a new website address!

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2000.

Institutionen för humaniora

Växjö universitet, 351 95 Växjö.

Besöksadress: Pelarplatsen 7

Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

Senast ändrad/kontrollerad 2005-07-25

Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

01:2, May 2001

Welcome to the twelfth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Jan Svartvik, Prof Em, Magnus Levin , MA, Roy Liddle, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear Readers,

Summer is soon here, one hopes, and we hasten to provide you with some usage data (and a tourist tip) before we withdraw with our laptops to our hammocks.

In this issue, Magnus goes a whiter shade of pale ( but also red, which at least for me is more appropriate for the season) but stays on the descriptive linguistics bandwagon with his treatment of the younger/the youngest,

Staffan mistrusts the Swedish weather and aims for far-flung islands, while Maria presents yet another discussion of/on prepositional use and also looks at a set of rather tricky constructions and a suspected case of Swenglish.

Finally, Maria updates the information on the availability of the CobuildDirect Corpus on the net.

And now for the tourist tip. At the moment I am in the fortunate position of being a guest lecturer at the

University of Zurich. As you may know, Zurich was once the home of James Joyce. If you travel in these parts of

the world this summer, don't miss visiting the Zurich James Joyce Foundation in Augustinerstrasse 9 (e-mail: [email protected]). It is run by the legendary Fritz Senn and has enormous collections of anything remotely related to Joyce. In particular I recommend the reading groups, where enthusiasts gather for collective readings of Ulysses (Tuesdays) and Finnegans Wake (Thursdays). I go to the Wake readings; the meaning of every word is discussed, so we usually cover 1,5 pages in 1,5 hours. I will have to stay here for 8 to10 years to finish the book.

Several of the people in the group are now on their second round!

Have a good summer,

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling and Magnus

Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Is it all right to use the superlative instead of the comparative when comparing two things (the

youngest of the twins instead of the younger of the twins)?

Both alternatives were found in our corpora, as is seen in (1) and (2).

(1) Though Sam was the younger of the two, he was not afraid of giving Carl a hard kick on the tochas (arse) if he had stepped out of line. (BrE)

(2) The youngest of the two was very distressed and crying. (BrE)

Before discussing the results from our corpora, we will take a look at what has been written about this kind of variation in English, and also what the situation looks like in Swedish and German.

As for English, Quirk et al (1985:465) claim in their Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language that the superlative is "often" used in comparisons of two things, but that this is avoided in "careful usage".

Swedish usage causes problems for Swedish learners of English. In Swedish the superlative is generally used, according to the Swedish Academy Grammar (Teleman et al 1999: II 204). Therefore Swedes normally say Vem

är äldst (av de två) ('Who is the oldest (of the two)') instead of Vem är den äldre (av de två) ('Who is the older

(of the two)'). The comparative sometimes occurs in Swedish in writing and formal speech.

Present-day German seems to be closer to English than Swedish in comparisons of two things. The prescriptive

Duden. Richtiges und gutes Deutsch (1985:717) considers the use of the superlative to be "superfluous". In earlier usage the superlative was not infrequent, however (e.g. der jüngste der beiden Brüder - 'the youngest of the two brothers'). This usage still lingers on in informal speech, although it is considered "incorrect" in standard

German. According to the Duden, the preferred way of putting it is therefore der jüngere der beiden Brüder ('the younger of the two brothers').

The comparative thus seems to be more frequent in more formal genres in English, Swedish and German.

Prescriptive rules seem to be at work here. For example, the grammar checker in my computer tells me that superlatives with comparisons between two things are wrong.

We searched for the string of the two in a corpus of spoken and written English and found the comparative to be used in 175 instances, and the superlative in only seven cases. Thus, (3) is the more (!) frequent alternative of the two examples below:

(3) This would seem the more likely of the two stories. (BrE)

(4) I think Jack Butler's the most likely of the two. (BrE)

Finally, did we find any indication of the superlative (the youngest) being more frequent in less formal language?

Well, the great majority of the instances in our material come from edited writing and it is not possible to conclude from only seven instances of superlatives how the alternatives are distributed across genres. It should be noted, however, that three out of the seven superlatives were found in informal language (quoted informal speech and informal e-mail).

There were exceptions to this formal vs. informal distinction. For example, (5) below contains a comparative from fictional dialogue, and (6) contains a superlative from formal writing.

(5) Some say it's by far the more challenging of the two. (BrE)

(6) The lack of section 4 admissions was due to the availability of an approved doctor at the Centre: the approved doctor is frequently the most difficult of the two doctors to get hold of under sections 2 or 3. (BrE, The

British Journal for Social Work)

To conclude, the comparative is by far the more frequent alternative in comparisons of two things in English. We found no definite solution to the problem of how frequent the two alternatives are in "formal" and "informal" language. Nevertheless, it is still safe to recommend our learners of English to use the more frequent (and not

the most frequent) of the two alternatives.

ML

2. Should I write he turned pale, he went pale, he grew pale or he became pale?

It is often difficult to translate Swedish bli ('become') into English. To turn/go/grow/become pale is only one area where there is widespread variation in English.

We will begin our survey with bli in connection with adjectives of colour. Svartvik & Sager claim in Engelsk

Universitetsgrammatik that go is being used more and more frequently with adjectives of colour. The alternatives

turn/go/grow/become pale and also the verb pale are synonyms, or near synonyms. It should be noted, however, that grow sometimes denotes a slow development, since nothing can grow instantly. There were a few instances where grow clearly denoted a slow development over time, as in (1), but these were fairly rare. In this particular case, grew could not have been substituted by turned or became.

(1) They took Sam for a check-up but the baffled doctor sent him home with a course of antibiotics. They were useless. Sam, usually so full of life, grew pale and began to tire easily. (BrE)

The various alternatives are exemplified below in order of decreasing frequency.

(2) Well, the fellow's face paled! (BrE)

(3) Sally had turned pale again. (BrE)

(4) She went pale and stared at me. (BrE)

(5) Katherine grew pale. Jacob smiled. (BrE)

(6) The woman's face became pale, her eyes ever widening pools of anger. (BrE)

By far the most frequent alternative is the verb pale, while turn and go are about equally common. Grow and

become are rather infrequent.

There is a similar pattern with turn/go/become/grow red and the verb redden. Redden is by far the most frequent variant, while become and grow are almost non-existent. Turn and go, in contrast, are fairly frequent. It should be noted that go is almost twice as common as turn with the colour red.

The three most common alternatives are exemplified in order of decreasing frequency in (7) to (9).

(7) She reddened, and Briant thought, Oh, damn. (BrE)

(8) She went red with mortification. (BrE)

(9) The sounds enraged Sonny; his face turned red with temper. (BrE)

A similar pattern seems to recur with turn/go/become/grow dark and the verb darken.

Summing up usage with adjectives of colour, it can be stated that the verbs go and turn are frequent. However, verbs of the type pale, redden and darken seem to be most common alternative. Thus, if we are to judge from frequency alone, the answer to the question "Should I write he turned pale, he went pale, he grew pale or he

became pale?" is, rather surprisingly, he paled!

There are a number of other cases where there is variation in English where Swedish has bli. One of them is turn/

go sour, as exemplified in (10) and (11). Turn sour was clearly the most frequent alternative with 72% of the instances.

(10) The aftermath of an affair turned sour can be downright hostile. (BrE)

(11) Next day at school everything went sour. (BrE)

It is worth pointing out that our material suggests that it is rarely dairy products (milk etc.) that turn or go sour.

It is more likely that there is a transferred sense, meaning something like become disagreeable or unpleasant, as in the examples above.

Svartvik & Sager give run (go) wild with joy as possible translations of Swedish bli vild av glädje. Both go wild

with X and run wild with X were very rare in our corpora. It is noteworthy, however, that the alternative given within brackets in the grammar, go, was more frequent than run (ten instances vs. three). There is thus some evidence to indicate that go wild in (12) is more frequent than run wild in (13).

(12) That's when PJ goes wild with delight and smothers his owners in doggy kisses. (BrE)

(13) An amorous bull stopped traffic yesterday when he seduced three cows, a Volvo and an Allegro on a busy road. The bull and cows were being herded along the road at Calne, Wilts, when he suddenly ran wild with lust.

"It was hilarious," said police sergeant Kevin Bowland. "The drivers must have had a shock. This huge bull just walked up and got on with it." (BrE)

A more peaceful issue concerns the expression to turn Socialist which is given by Svartvik & Sager. This construction would seem to be in competition with the phrase to become a Socialist. The two alternatives are exemplified below (for the use of small letters with the names of political movements in (15), see GTN 1998:1):

(14) I've been wondering, now it seems, well, you're leaving, why did you turn Socialist? (BrE)

(15) Edward Heath was a contemporary at Balliol, where Healey became a communist. (BrE)

In our material there were very few instances of these phrases. However, with ten become a Socialist etc. and only one single (!) turn Socialist etc. there is some evidence that when people change their political opinions, it is more likely that they become Socialists than they turn Socialist.

The final issue concerns the variation between to become/get angry/ill, etc. This variation is exemplified in (16) -

(19). (20) shows another common alternative with ill, namely to fall ill.

(16) He hesitated, then became angry. (BrE)

(17) We never got angry with Kirsty or condemned her. (BrE)

(18) Almost all of us can recall a time in our lives when we have been under emotional stress and have become ill as a result. (BrE)

(19) "It doesn't matter, Julia," said Anthony with a return of the impatience he had shown so often before she got

ill. (BrE)

(20) In 1189 they invaded Maine and Henry, his tireless energy at last exhausted, fell ill. (BrE)

Angry and ill seem to prefer different constructions. In writing, angry was mainly used with get (73%), while

become was used in 27% of the cases. In contrast, ill was used with become (46%), fall (40%) and get (14%).

Another question concerns whether it is true that become is a more formal alternative than get. We compared usage in spoken and written BrE and found that get seems to predominate in speech (eleven get as compared to only one become). Our material thus indicates that get is frequent in writing, while become may be disappearing from speech. (It should be pointed out, however, that our written material mainly comes from fiction, and many of the tokens were found in fictional dialogue. This means that it's difficult to tell how "formal" our written material really is.)

To conclude, it is sometimes difficult to find the appropriate translation of Swedish bli into English. Grammars provide some clues as to the variation, but in some cases they may not present an entirely accurate picture. It is often useful to check the claims in grammars against corpora.

ML

3. Why do people "jump on the bandwagon" so often nowadays?

The phrase jump on the bandwagon (or climb on the bandwagon) means 'begin to do something that a lot of other people are doing' according to The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. The Macquarie Dictionary defines it as 'to join the winning side; take advantage of a popular movement or fashion; follow the crowd'. (This dictionary also records the meaning 'the successful or winning side or cause' for the noun bandwagon in AmE.)

According to The Oxford English Dictionary the original meaning of bandwagon was '[a] large wagon, capable of carrying the band in a procession.' No instances of this meaning were found in our material.

Below are two typical examples of bandwagon-jumping:

(1) But is it already too late to jump on the European bandwagon? (Ind)

(2) The company reacted rather sniffily yesterday to suggestions that it was merely jumping on to the speeding

internet bandwagon. (Ind)

These instances do not show how flexibly this popular metaphor can be used. Creative speakers and writers have found numerous ways of exploiting the phrase. We investigated the use of bandwagons in newspaper language and found around 500 instances from The New York Times 1995 (AmE), The Independent 2000 (BrE) and The

Sydney Morning Herald 1995 (AusE).

To begin with, it should be noted that the pre-modifiers used with bandwagon often specify the type of vehicle that is referred to. Thus we find the political correctness bandwagon, the dot.com bandwagon, the alternative

medicine bandwagon and the Tory "keep the pound" bandwagon among numerous others.

As could be expected from the cited dictionaries, the most common construction involved various methods of boarding and travelling on the bandwagon. This occurred in two thirds of the instances. Of the verbs, jump was clearly the most frequent. It was used in about two thirds of the boarding instances. Others were less frequent, but climb, leap, get, ride, hop and join occurred ten times or more. These are exemplified in (3) - (8):

(3) So it goes in publishing: if there's money to be made on a bandwagon, climb on, even if only to make fun of everyone else. (NYT)

(4) Hi-ho, let's all leap on the nuclear protest bandwagon. (SMH)

(5) I really see it as a unique Sydney event, and I'd like to feel that people want to get on the bandwagon. (SMH)

(6) Joan Tower's 'Turning Points' for clarinet and string quartet on Friday night was notable in part for what it did not do: namely, ride bandwagons or exploit stylistic fashions. (NYT)

(7) Now Australian government organisations, never far behind social trends, look like hopping on the

bandwagon. (SMH)

(8) This column hereby makes a promise: from tomorrow till 1996, you will read not one word about The Beatles here. Let others join the bandwagon - we'll pedal our own bike. (SMH)

Just as there are many examples of people jumping/climbing/leaping onto bandwagons, there are also a few instances of people getting off them. (9) contains two instances of someone jumping off bandwagons.

(9) A colleague of mine once remarked, apropos my distaste for Jacques Rivette's universally lauded La Belle

Noiseuse, that I had a perverse knack for "jumping off bandwagons". Whatever the truth of that comment, I was certainly poised to jump off the Abbas Kiarostami bandwagon when his last film, The Taste of Cherry, was released here in 1998. (Ind)

As in (10), bandwagons are often found rolling with no mention of people jumping onto them. (10) also exemplifies the fact the noun is sometimes found in the plural (in the present material around 20 times).

(10) There will be two bandwagons rolling in very different directions: one in support of London Irish as a

Premiership contender in their own right, and another in support of Best as Clive Woodward's successor. (Ind)

There were also other occurrences of bandwagon functioning as a subject. Some of these exploit the wagon metaphor even further. Hence, bandwagons sometimes take different routes and sometimes grind to a halt, as can be seen from (11) and (12).

(11) But while some are calling for a ban, elsewhere the anti-scooter bandwagon is taking a different route. (Ind)

(12) With the Fulham bandwagon having ground to a temporary halt, City had to take the chance to close the gap on the automatic promotion places (…) (Ind)

In about a dozen instances, bandwagon was used as a premodifier, as in (13).

(13) In an attempt to create a bandwagon effect, and prevent the possibility of stalemate, Phillips & Drew declared last night - for BoS. (Ind)

Bandwagon-jumping, bandwagon-jumper, bandwagon-hopping and bandwagon-hopper could be found as nouns in a few instances. This usage is exemplified in (14) and (15).

(14) AN ASTONISHING piece of bandwagon-jumping from a couple of entrepreneurs with too much time on their hands. (Ind)

(15) And how long would it have been before that arch-bandwagon-jumper William Hague was calling for a trade embargo, perhaps even war? (Ind)

As for regional differences, the noun under study was more frequent in BrE material than in the other varieties.

This difference is probably text-type specific to some extent in that the style in The Independent is less formal than in, for instance, The New York Times. Nevertheless, bandwagon was more than four times more frequent per one million words in The Independent than in The New York Times and The Sydney Morning Herald. A check in our rather small spoken corpora gives support to this difference between BrE and AmE.

However, bandwagon meaning 'the successful or winning side or cause' was more frequent in NYT than in the other newspapers. (16) is a typical example of this usage.

(16) The Oregon bandwagon has been overbooked ever since the Washington game. (NYT)

As already seen in (15), the leader of Britain's Conservative Party, William Hague, has for some reason been repeatedly connected to the bandwagon metaphor. We therefore conclude our discussion with two instances of creative usage that refer to Mr Hague's purported tendency to jump on bandwagons.

(17) "As William Hague takes his party further and further to the right, on and off every passing bandwagon, the

Liberal Democrats continue to offer a real home to people with moderate One Nation values," Mr Kennedy said.

(Ind)

(18) His bandwagons are like faulty shopping trolleys, they keep veering off to the right. (Ind)

ML

4. Do you have to use the article with all names in the plural, e.g. island groups and political units like /the/ USA?

In grammars you usually find absolute rules like: "Proper names in the plural take the article". Categories especially singled out include groups of islands (the Hebrides) and mountain ranges (the Himalayas). Among other plural names The Netherlands is never in the lands of no article.

Pursuing the hypothesis that the article is a marker of plurality, i.e. the idea that the unit described as the Xs is made up of several geographical and/or political parts, let's look at some exceptions to the grammar-book rules limiting the sample to nations and near-nations.

In the UN Chronicle and other more or less official publications there is a trio of island states that sometimes take the article and sometimes don't. The three are /the/ Comoros, Maldives and Seychelles. To find out whether this vacillation reflects general usage, two corpora, Cobuild and BNC, were consulted. There were several examples where these names occurred without the article, but those taking the article turned out to be in the majority.

However, since none of these names turns up very often in the corpora, a comparison was made with the

Internet. The outcome of this search was very different indeed. Without the article Maldives occurred in 23 %,

Seychelles in 46 % and Comoros in 60 % of the total number of references to the respective name. (However, even on the Internet the last country is seldom mentioned.)

If anyone suspects that these results are due to the mixed language background of the users of the Internet, we can reveal that the article is actually missing from the official names of these three Indian Ocean nations. So, contrary to the grammar-book rules, both official (local) and lay (global) users have opted for the article-less variety.

My interpretation is that the local usage (which also happens to be the global one) reflects a wish on the part of the inhabitants that their home country should be regarded as a nation in its own right and not just a scattered group of islands. There are a dozen or so former colonies around the world whose names have undergone even more radical transformations. We no longer say, for example, the Fiji, Tonga or Samoa Islands, but the proper name alone. Some units have entirely shed their past, like the Gilbert and Ellice Islands which have reappeared as Kiribati and Tuvalu, or the New Hebrides, which is now Vanuatu. It must, however, be admitted that other independent island nations like the Solomon and the Marshall Islands still retain both the article and the epithet.

And some that have dropped the 'island' tag, like the Bahamas, still retain the article.

How about the American federation? A Web search of the full name of the superpower and its commonly used abbreviations led to some interesting conclusions. The full name was overwhelmingly (in 99.7 % out of 111 496 occurrences) spelled out as the United States and the figures for the U.S. and the U.S.A. (with periods) were also impressively high (97.2%, and 87.1%, respectively). Even The US (without periods) reached 83.8%. However, although the article came out on top for all the common varieties, USA (without article and periods) scored as high as 21.7%.

This, then, turns out to be the moral: It may be right to leave out the article with some plural names. But it is always possible to leave it in.

SK

5. I have some more prepositional variation that I would like sorted out. Which constructions are the most frequent ones: book/lecture/news etc. on or about, specialize on or in, the strange thing about or with?

If we start with the first variation type, news, books etc. on or about, most books on prepositions provide the two alternatives without commenting on their respective frequencies or other matters. Seth Lindstromberg in his

English prepositions explained (1998) writes that today there is no difference in meaning between the two prepositions. It seems, however, that about used to have a connotation of 'approached from different directions' or 'covered from different angles', a meaning that is of course entirely absent in on. He further claims that about seems to be "marginally more suitable in formal discourse" (p. 139), but that on seems to be on the increase, possibly owing to the fact that newspapers tend to use it a lot in order to save space. Michael Swan, on the other hand, in Practical English usage (1995), seems to suggest the opposite view on level of formality, in stating that

"we use on to talk about ordinary, more general kinds of communication. On suggests that a bok, lecture, talk etc is serious or academic, suitable for specialists" (p.3). Sverker Brorström in De engelska prepositionerna is on the same track as Swan, I believe, in observing that on is particularly frequent with words like lecture, speech and

essay.

The first thing to notice from the corpus study (using the 60-million-word Cobuild corpus) is that there is no real consistency but rather quite a lot of variation between different nouns. Most of the nouns we looked at seem to prefer on (article, book, essay, findings, lecture, lesson and speech), whereas with three of them (discussion,

information and news), about predominated. We can also see that the degree of preference for on varies, in that this preposition is used almost all the time with lecture (90%) and essay (94%), but only in between 60 and 70% with the other nouns where it predominates. The same variation is true of nouns where about was the more frequent alternative: 53% with discussion, 57% with information and 75% with news.

on

about

article(-s)

280 63% 163 37%

book(-s)

498 60% 333 40%

discussion(-s)

203 47% 231

53%

essay(-s)

findings

90

22

94% 6

71% 9

6%

29%

information

823 43% 1095 57%

lecture(-s) - noun 145 90% 17

10%

lesson(-s)

news

speech(-es)

46 66% 24 34%

43 25% 130

75%

60 63% 35 37%

It seems that, as non-natives, we can in many cases confidently use either preposition without any great risk of using on the wrong level of formality. When talking about academic topics, however, (using words like lecture and essay), on seems to be the best preposition.

Now to the other cases of prepositional variation. As far as specialize (also spelled specialise) in various verb forms is concerned, the answer seems to be quite straightforward: variation is virturally non-existent. All monolingual dictionaries we consulted give in as the only alternative, whereas two Swedish dictionaries (Norsteds

stora engelsk-svenska ordbok and Norstedst engelska prepositionsbok) give both alternatives. When we looked in our two largest corpora, the British National Corpus and the Cobuild corpus (comprising more than 150 million words in all), we found only nine examples of on, compared to thousands of examples of in. Thus it seems that

specialize in is the construction to go for.

The question concerning the + (ADVERB) + ADJECTIVE + thing also provided fairly clear corpus results. The construction with about, as exemplified in (1), was eight to nine times more frequent in the two corpora that we consulted. In the Cobuild corpus, for instance, with, exemplified in (2), was used 28 times (compared to 399 instances of about), mainly in fairly informal contexts.

(1) (...) the important thing about this is that Gorbachev must have known that it was coming (...) (American radio)

(2) And the terrible thing with the Russian one was that it has raised the radioactivity level (...) (spoken British

English)

Quite a few examples with about included an adverb before the adjective, such as truly, most, really and only, as in (3):

(3) The truly crazy thing about Leslie Nielsen is that he's a serious guy. (British magazine)

The cases where with was used were to a great extent examples of adjectives with comparatively little semantic content, such as whole and only, as in (4), example (2) above constituting an exception.

(4) The whole thing with having fantasy idols is because you know you're never going to go out with someone like that. (British magazine)

About, on the other hand, was more frequently used with semantically "richer" adjectives, as in (5):

(5) The attractive thing about the town centre is the gardens which are quite extensive. (British brochure)

ME

6. I've noticed that some people say wait on with the meaning 'wait for'. Is that really correct usage?

In school we all probably learnt that these two constructions mean different things, namely that wait for is a verb you can connect to nouns like train, bus, friend and letter, whereas wait on is something that waiters and waitresses do to customers in a restaurant. In Swedish, however, the prepostion ('on') is the one to be used to translate the first of these two constructions.

If we consult dictionaries, we find that the Longman dictionary provide both forms, observing that wait on is used about particular events, pieces of information etc., "especially before doing something or making a decision". The

Cambridge international dictionary states that wait on is formal language describing the act of delaying doing something until something happens (as in The lawyers were waiting on the jury's verdict). Other dictionaries consulted only provided the wait for construction. So, what do our corpora say?

First of all we can conclude that wait on with the meaning 'wait for' exists, but is rather infrequent compared to

wait for. In the Cobuild corpus (consisting of mainly written British, American and Australian) we found 82 instances (a little more than 1 instance per million words) of wait on (cases with the "waiter" meaning of course disregarded), compared to 3574 instances of wait for. In our five-million-word corpus of spoken American

English, the alternative construction was more frequent: 42 instances (c. 8 instances per million words) compared to 378 wait for. It thus seems that spoken American English is the variant where this construction is particularly frequent. Typical examples from spoken English are presented in (1) and (2):

(1) Dave was supervising so, you know, they'll wait on a ride home, and then, supper's ready when he gets in

(...) (spoken American)

(2) "Wait on me," she said. "I'm going back to the house and take this thing off and tomorrow I'm going to return it." (dialogue from American book)

We also found some examples of the use of wait on in more formal context, as suggested in the Cambridge dictionary:

(3) Former club president Rayner said he was still waiting on legal advice whether he should now take the club's closure case to the Supreme Court judicial review. (Australian newspaper)

(4) Yet the Catholic contribution to the resistance movement was not negligible, notably in the north where parish priests did not wait on orders from the Vatican. (British book)

A third group of examples comes from the sports sections of magazines (especially in headlines), as illustrated in

(5) and (6):

(5) Arsenal wait on Robson. (headline from British magazine)

(6) While Spurs wait on the new recruit who could halt their alarming slidedown the Premier League, Mabbutt's dramatic return to action was a welcome fillip. (British magazine)

The conclusion is that wait on seems to be rather specialized for particular contexts (conversation in American

English or formal situations of the Cambridge Dictionary type), and thus we can recommend our students to be careful with this construction.

ME

7. Is there an English equivalent to the Swedish expression ha det bra, i.e. have it good? This construction sounds strange to my ears, but I have a feeling that have it so good would be OK.

Our reader asking this question is certainly right in his assumptions. Have it good, illustrated in example (1) was extremely infrequent in the corpus material, whereas there were quite a few instances of constructions where an adverb was inserted before the adjective, almost invariably the adverb so. We could also note that have it so

good was almost exclusively used in a negative idiomatic construction: have never had it so good, as exemplified in (2) and (3).

(1) Yesterday, Mr Goss said employers should realise that they had it good in Queensland compared with other states. (Australian newspaper)

(2) Even if they had never had it so good, if they did not feel that that was true, the Government could expect only ingratitude from the electorate. (British book)

(3) In material terms many had indeed never had it so good. (British book)

Example (4) was the only case where another adverb was used, but it is still the same kind of construction:

(4) I'd never had it that good.We'd always go out into the garage (...) (American book)

It should also be noted that the construction was far more frequent in the British than in the American material, so it might very well be that this construction is a Briticism.

ME

8. My students sometimes complain about the form too long/small etc. a/an, claiming that it feels clumsy and wondering whether they could not use the same word order as in Swedish (a too long/

small etc.) instead. What do your corpora say about this?

First, we would like to take a look at what some Swedish grammar books say on this topic. Svartvik & Sager's

Engelsk universitetsgrammatik (1996) observes that a too X, as in (1), exists but is less frequently used than the

too X a/an construction, illustrated in (2).

(1) You'd be a too soft spoken person. (spoken American)

(2) I don't want to paint too green a picture here. (American radio)

Variation also exists with the adverbs quite and rather if of a somewhat different kind. In both these cases, there is variation between a construction where the indefinite article comes immediately after the adverb (not after the adjective as with too), as in (3) and (5), and a construction where the article precedes the adverb, as in (4) and

(6):

(3) It is quite a good idea to put the crops you propose to grow on a piece of card and cut them out as shown in

Figure 34. (British Book)

(4) That is a quite appalling statistic. (British magazine)

(5) This is rather an upmarket hotel if I may say so. (spoken British)

(6) He thought that was a rather strange reaction, a bit too defensive. (American book)

Gleerups engelska grammatik (by Ohlander & Ljung) offer the same alternatives without any direct comments on frequencies, but the constructions where too and quite with the indefinite article come after the adverb (too/

quite + ADJECTIVE + a/an) are presented before the alternatives, whereas with rather, the alternative with a preceding article (a rather + ADJECTIVE) is presented first. The same goes for Hedström's Engelsk

gymnasiegrammatik. When we looked at frequencies in our corpora, we found that there were differences between the different adverbs, in exactly the way that these grammars suggest. The frequencies are illustrated in the following table:

Cobuild Longman

(60 M words, spoken BrE, written BrE an AmE) (5 M words, spoken AmE)

too + ADJECTIVE + a/an + NOUN

a too + ADJECTIVE + NOUN

393

32

92%

8%

9

1

90%

10%

quite a/an + ADJECTIVE + NOUN

a quite + ADJECTIVE + NOUN

1430

168

89%

11%

18

0

100%

0%

rather a/an + ADJECTIVE + NOUN

a rather + ADJECTIVE + NOUN

131

699

16%

84%

0

11

0%

100%

With too and quite, the "un-Swedish" construction with the adverb preceding the indefinite article was clearly the most common one (90-92% for too and 89-100% for quite), and it seems that our students will have to accept this fact. With rather, on the other hand, the construction type that looks the same as the Swedish construction

en ganska... was in the majority (84-100%) of the cases.

Some of the examples of a too + ADJECTIVE used hyphens in the construction, as in (7):

(7) A fringe can camouflage a too-high or too-broad forehead and draw attention to your eyes. (British magazine)

We also found two (but only two) instances of a third type with quite, the same as the too construction, with the adjective coming between the adverb and the indefinite article:

(8) Overall, the currency looks quite soft a reflection of all the talk about the current account problems over the past few days. (Australian newspaper)

Sometimes it was a bit difficult to decide whether a construction with rather + a/an + ADJECTIVE was a case where rather really referred to the adjective (meaning 'pretty', 'fairly' etc.), or whether it was an adverb modifying the whole clause, as is obviously true of example (9), where the word but makes the case very clear:

(9) But President Cristiani has refused, saying he does not want truces, but rather a definitive end to the war.

(American radio)

We should also recognize the fact that it is often possible to paraphrase a construction with a noun phrase that feels clumsy into a sentence where the adjective is used in a predicative position rather than as a premodifier.

Thus example (2) above could be paraphrased as (10):

(10) I don't want to paint a picture that is too green here.

ME

3. Useful websites

Old acquaintances revisited

In GTN

99:2 we recommended that anyone interested in doing some corpus research on their own should try out

the website of Cobuild Direct, where you can use a corpus for free, searching for words starting with the letter J.

The fact that only words in one particular letter can be checked of course greatly restricts one's search possibilities, and now Cobuild Direct offers another opportunity for free trial: the Cobuild Corpus Concordance

Sampler, which can be accessed at: http://www.collins.co.uk/Corpus/CorpusSearch.aspx

Here you can access 45 million words of the corpus with searches on any letter. The restrictions are (a) that you cannot choose which of the three subcorpora you would like to use (spoken British, written British or written

American), (b) that you will not get more context than the actual concordance line and (c) that you will get no more than 40 hits for each search, thus of course limiting the statistical value of your searches. Still, you might find the sampler useful, for instance, when wondering whether a particular word or construction exists or not.

Further down on the same website, you will find another useful free-trial search facility, the Cobuild Collocation

Sampler. Here you can type in a word and get the most frequent collocates, i.e. words occurring most frequently close to the word you typed in.

The Majority English Dibul (MED), a weekly newsletter with a corresponding website, is also something we wrote

about a couple of years ago, ( 99:3 ) but I would like to recommend it once again as a very useful complement to

GramTime News, since the MED focuses on words, whereas we mainly bring up grammatical matters. You can access the MED at the following adress: http://www.bentarz.se/me/

ME

4. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. I Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (red.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

––– . Forthcoming. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English.

Marco Modiano (ed.). Gävle: Gävle University Press.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. Forthcoming. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: Gävle

University Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

Svartvik, Jan. 1998. Varieties of English: Major and minor. In Lindquist et al (eds).

·

–––. 1999a. Engelska – öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Stockholm: Norstedts Ordbok.

·

–––. 1999b. English corpus studies: past, present, future. English Corpus Studies. Japan Association for English

Corpus studies 6, 1-16. Journal of Japan Association for English Corpus Studies. 1999.

·

–––. 1999c. Corpora and dictionaries. In The Perfect Learners' Dictionary. Lexicographica, Series Maior. Thomas

Herbst & Kerstin Popp (eds). .. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 1999.

·

–––. 1999d. Bidrag till Synpunkter på en svensk grammatik. Inlägg vid Svenska Akademiens grammatiksymposium 4-5 mars 1985, 69 -74. Stockholm: Norstedts.

·

–––. Forthcoming. How many Englishes are there – and which is the pick of the bunch? Association of Teachers of English of the Czech Republic Newsletter,

·

––– & Hans Lindquist. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2001.

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Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88.

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**************

03:2, June 2003

Welcome to the twentieth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , PhD, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Book review

4. Computer-mediated communication (CMC)

5. Web tips

6. Competitions

7. GramTime publications

8. Practical information

9. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

Welcome to GramTime News' big, sensational 5th anniversary issue! It is hard to believe that we have kept this going for five years, but there it is. As all veteran readers must realize, this is first and foremost thanks to our managing editor Maria Estling Vannestål, whose enthusiasm is never dampened, and second to our diligent researcher Magnus Levin, who knows all the corpora inside out. A big cheer for them!

It has been my habit to briefly survey the contents of each issue in my editorial, but I have to refrain from that this time - there is simply too much. Let me just mention that we are happy to present two guest writers, Staffan

Klintborg who is back with a new book review, and Ibolya Maricic who presents some very useful facts about her research area, Computer-Mediated Communication. I bet you didn't know half of all those abbreviations!

So print out GramTime News, bring it to the hammock or garden swing, enjoy the articles – and don't forget to submit your entries for the competitions!

We wish you a really good summer,

Hans Lindquist, editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. Two research assistants have previously worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990, 1995 & 2000

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Is it OK to use the preposition from with the verb to die?

In school I learnt that in English you say tremble with, suffer from and die of, whereas in Swedish the same preposition (av) is used in all three cases. However, now and then we see the construction die from. So, how frequent is this construction? Judging from our corpora, die from, as in (1) is not at all unusual, even though die

of, as in (2), was the predominant form in all the corpora we consulted.

(1) 140,509 people in England died from coronary heart disease in 1989. (British book)

(2) Three climbers died of hypothermia last winter. (The New York Times)

The corpus results (presented in the table below) also suggest that, in written text, die from is more frequent in

British English than in American English, whereas in the spoken material the relative frequencies were very similar in British and American English.

die of

Total

die from

N % N % N %

88 73% 32 27% 120 100%

British books and brochures

American books and brochures

122 80% 30 20% 152 100%

595 64% 337 36% 932 100%

The Independent 1995

1753 88% 249 12% 2002 100%

The New York Times 1995

51 66% 26 34% 77 100%

Spoken British English

47 64% 26 36% 73 100%

Spoken American English

In most cases, the preposition of or from was followed by the name of a disease (such as AIDS, cancer, malaria etc.) or a noun phrase (such as a heart attack, exhaustion, grief etc.) stating the cause of death, as in (3) and

(4).

(3) As Kafka was dying of tuberculosis, he begged his friend and literary executor, Max Brod, to burn his uncompleted manuscripts. (American book)

(4) Before I knew that he died from smoking I thought it was just old age and stuff. (spoken British English)

There were also some instances of interrogatives, where die and the preposition occurred at the end of a sentence, as in (5). From never occurred in those cases.

(5) "What did she die of?" Liddie asked. (American book)

However, some of the cases where die from occurred are somewhat different, which might offer at least a partial explanation for the use of from instead of of. Sometimes, for instance, the noun directly following the preposition is not the very cause of death but instead words like effects and complications, as in (6) and (7). The preposition

of was never used in those cases.

(6) In undeveloped countries, each year at least 13 million people, mostly children, die from the effects of

hunger. (British brochure)

(7) Mr. Kirkpatrick died from complications of pneumonia, his wife, Rita, said. (The New York Times)

It is possible that the fact that the NP contains another of (between effects/complications and the cause of death) makes the writer prefer the preposition from for the avoidance of repetition. This could be the case in (8) as well.

(8) Yuniah didn't know whether she'd live, or die from loss of blood. (British book)

On the other hand, in examples (6) and (7) above, the reason for using from may as well have something to do with the fact that it is not the name of the disease etc. that immediately follows the preposition. As we see in (9), the material also included examples of NPs where the word complications was postmodified by a relative clause rather than an of phrase, and here too no instances of the preposition of after die was found:

(9) G. J. Tankersley, (...), died from complications related to a degenerative muscle disease on Jun 11, 1995 at the age of 74. (The New York Times)

Another interesting finding is that all cases in the corpora where die was used with figurative meaning occurred with the preposition of, as in (10) and (11). The number of tokens was not very large, however.

(10) The improbably named Tarpon Springs Boulevard, (...), begins grandly down by the waterfront in an extravaganza of badly-laid concrete, but dies of embarrassment long before it finds any destination. (The

Independent)

(11) The only way they will be totally safe is by sitting at home watching TV until they die of boredom. (The

Independent)

To conclude, it seems that the phrase die from is accepted in standard English, at least in the literal use of the expression, and that in some cases (when the preposition is not followed by the name of the cause of death but rather by a noun like complications), it is even the preferred alternative.

ME

2. Which preposition is most common in the verb phrase beat around/about the bush?

The metaphorical expression to beat about/around the bush means that you "avoid or delay talking about something embarrassing or unpleasant" (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1995). For this study we had to look through several corpora, since the expression is not very frequent. Overall, beat about the bush, as in

(1) was more frequent than beat around the bush, as in (2).

(1) We were just finishing our first course when he said: "Look, let's not beat about the bush. You know what this is all about."(The Independent)

(2) No more beating around the bush! Let's strike while the iron is hot! (American book)

It seems that to beat about the bush is a Briticism, since we found no instances of this construction in the

American corpora consulted. Also, most of the instances we found (regardless of which preposition they included) were from spoken English or from dialogues in the written material, so we can probably conclude that the expression mainly belongs to fairly informal contexts.

In relation to the discussion on puns below (see the section on website tips), it is interesting to note that when searching the Internet we found several instances of beat about the bush used in word play. One example is a website about "Bush Homes of East Africa" (a presentation of selected safari destinations in Kenya), the newsletter of which is called A beat about the bush. Another is a website called Beat about the bush promoting musical instruments and equipment for professional hire. Of course, the name of the American president has been used in puns, such as an article from 2001 in The Guardian titled By George! Don't beat about the Bush, providing a poem put together by real utterances (including language mistakes and other examples of poor linguistic quality) made by President Bush, and another one (in the same newspaper by the same author but two years later!): Tell it how it is - don't beat about the Bush.

ME

3. Which preposition should I choose with the nouns expert and specialist: in, on or at?

When consulting the Longman dictionary (1995) we found that it suggests different options for expert and

specialist, viz. that the former can be used with either in, on or at (without providing any information about differences in usage between the three variants), whereas with specialist, the only preposition suggested is in.

Now, does this information tally with our corpus material, and is it possible to detect any usage patterns to distinguish between the diffeent prepositions? We used four corpora of written text (since these words are much more frequent in written than in spoken English): British/American books and brochures and British/American newspapers.

If we start with overall figures for expert, we can note that expert at is the least frequent construction in all corpora (accounts for between 2 and 12 per cent of the instances). Most of the instances of expert at were in fact excluded from the frequency count because at did not designate a topic in/on/at which the person in question is an expert, but rather an institution or the like to which this person is connected, as in (1).

(1) Is he still the seventeenth-century expert at the Rijksmuseum? (British book)

There were not so big differences in frequency between the two other alternatives (in and on), but expert on was the most frequent variant in three of the four corpora consulted (used in between 44 and 60 per cent of the cases). As for specialist, there were no instances of at in the corpus material, so the dictionary was right in not providing that variant. Also, the construction with in was between four and six times more frequent than on (e.g.

273 in vs. 50 on in The New York Times).

We couldn't detect any clear regional differences, but there proved to be other interesting patterns worth reporting on. It seems that when the preposition is followed bya noun phrase including the name of a topic either

in or on can be used, as in (2) to (5).

(2) An influential group of experts in Roman Catholic church law has concluded that ordaining women as deacons in the church would be in keeping with Catholic theology and past practice. (The New York Times)

(3) Organics was developed by the Elida Hair Institute-Paris, a leading specialist in hair health and beauty with research centres in over 40 countries worldwide. (British brochure)

(4) She's an expert on the Philippines. (American book)

(5) Last night a US congressional specialist on chemical warfare warned that Americans should be prepared for a

Tokyo-type incident. (The Independent)

When the noun phrase following the preposition includes a word such as area, art or field, the preposition was always in, as in (6) and (7). In those cases the meaning of the preposition seems to have a more locative

(although certainly more abstract than in the case with at above) meaning, and then the preposition in is of course a more natural choice.

(6) Dr Solomon is a world renowned expert in the field of viruses and has been called out to deal with numerous virus outbreaks in major corporations worldwide. (British brochure)

(7) However temporary his victories might be, Mr. Reback has drawn the kind of attention not commonly focused on specialists in such arcane areas as antitrust and intellectual property law. (The New York Times)

When the preposition is followed by a subordinating conjunction, however, such as how or what, as in (8) and

(9), on was the preferred preposition. Such constructions were only used with expert, never with specialist.

(8) Anecdotal evidence shows that when people are stripped of familiar surroundings, they tend to crave their native cuisine, said Dr. Paul Rozin, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who is recognized as a leading expert on how people relate to food. (The New York Times)

(9) "Leon realizes that he is not the world's leading expert on what's going on in new music," Mr. Kalish said.

(The New York Times)

When expert and its preposition is followed by a verb in the ing form, the preferred preposition was at, as in (10).

(10) I'm an expert at avoiding pests, Nesti, an expert. (spoken British English)

This was also the case when the word expert is used as an adjective rather than as a noun, as in (11) – cf. good

at, bad at etc – even though there were some exceptions.

(11) Project Open Hand's small staff is expert at stretching every cent just as far as it will go. (American brochure)

In the last two examples, the topic in/on/at which somebody is an expert is of a less professional, more trivial nature, and the expression seems to have a somewhat figurative meaning. This is typical of the instances where the preposition is followed by a verb in the ing form. Finding this aspect interesting and worth a study of its own, we made an analysis of a selection of the corpus material (the books and brochures). It seems that this more figuratively used expert mainly combines with at, not only in nonfinite clauses introduced by a verb in the ing form, but also in combination with noun phrases, as in (12) and (13).

(12) His girlfriend was herself married, so was presumably expert at betrayal herself. (The Independent)

(13) Since young children are novices at almost everything, while older children are more expert at many things, perhaps the apparent age difference in the use of cognitive strategies, such as memory strategies, is just the effect of more specific knowledge (...) (American book)

However, sentences where expert and specialist are used with a more figurative meaning also occurred both with

in, as in (14), and with on, as in (15), so the main reason for the use of at in (12) and (13) may be that expert is an adjective.

(14) Unfortunately his sister was of the contrary opinion; she had grown accustomed, and not without reason, to consider herself an expert in Gregor's affairs as against her parents, (...) (American book)

(15) You're a hell of an expert on someone you hardly know. (British book)

Finally, remember that quite often no prepositional phrase is necessary at all when you talk about experts and

specialists. When the topic does not consist of too many words, it is commonplace to use it as a premodifying noun. This usage is particularly common when the speaker or writer wishes to introduce the name of the expert, as in (16), where a construction with a preposition would have felt more awkward.

(16) White water expert Mark Herriott took the first boat down and the other two followed. Screaming with excitement the paddlers fought against the tossing, tugging waves that towered around them. (British book)

To conclude, we can say that as for expert we can use either in or on in most cases, only the former when the following noun phrase includes a word such as area or field and preferrably the latter when the preposition is followed by a subordinating subjunction. At is mainly used when what follows is a verb in the ing form and when

expert is an adjective, especially when the expression is used with figurative meaning. With specialist it is a good idea to stick to in.

ME

4. What is the most frequent way of expressing dates in English?

The way of expressing dates is one of the cases where we find clear regional differences in English. Putting the name of the month before the numeral, as in (1), is typically considered "the American way", whereas in British

English, the numeral generally precedes the name of the month, as in (2).

(1) He was on his way to Bosnia to do research for a book when the police detained him in Zagreb on September

12. (The New York Times)

(2) On 29 January 1928, his heart surrendered. (British book)

The prescribed ways of writing dates according to standard grammars are either 10 May or May 10, i.e. with the numeral used in the cardinal rather than the ordinal form (whereas in speech the ordinal form is generally pronounced). In the Longman dictionary (1995), however, we find the following example under "date":

(3) The date on the letter was the 30th August 1962.

Our subscriber made a quick search on the Internet, and found 300,000 instances of May 10, 74,600 instances of

May 10th, 220,000 instances of 10 May and 46,500 instances of 10th May. In relative terms, comparing one group at a time, in the American-form group, May 10 accounted for 80% and May 10th for 20%, whereas in the

British-form group, 10 May accounted for 82%, and 10th May for 18%. As we see, there was virtually no difference between the two groups as regards how frequent the ordinal form was on the Net. Now, do these frequencies correspond to our corpus material?

We searched for dates in one British and one American newspaper corpus, and also in two other corpora (one

British and one American) including books and brochures. However, in order to avoid having to delete examples where May does not refer to the month but rather functions as a modal auxiliary, we chose two other months,

January and September (two to avoid random results). Since our corpora of course are many times smaller than the world wide web, we looked at whole months in order not to end up with just a handful of tokens.

The corpora confirm the information in dictionaries and grammars that Americans prefer putting the month before the numeral, whereas in British English the numeral generally precedes the month, even though we also find examples of the opposite, i.e. figure first in American English, as in (4), and month first in British English, as in (5).

(4) Waller again scanned operations order 91-001, dated 17 January 1991. (American book)

(5) On January 16, John Banham, Director General of the CBI will start the day. (British brochure)

As for the variant where the numeral is an ordinal, these were very rare in the material. In the majority of the cases, the cardinal form accounted for between 98 and 100 per cent. One exception was the corpus including

British books, where we found 14 instances of January X and 10 instances of January Xth, but in the same corpus, the relation between X January and Xth January was 726 vs. 0. Interestingly, the ordinal form occurred somewhat more frequently in the American construction, as in (6), than in the British construction, as in (7), even though the The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (1999) mentions the use of an ordinal in connection to the British form only: "In the rare case of a day that precedes the month (usually in a quotation), use this form: the 6th of January" (p.100).

(6) "We are very concerned about whether this plan can be implemented by January 1st without utter chaos," said Barbara Conley, director of child welfare for Catholic Charities of Brooklyn. (The New York Times)

(7) On 30th January, John Sales, Gardens Advisor at the National Trust, talks about the influential garden made by Lawrence Johnston at Hidcote in Gloucestershire. (The Independent)

In the first of these examples, it is possible that the use of the ordinal form originates from the fact that the text is written-down dialogue, since the ordinal form is generally used in speech.

One possible reason for the more frequent use of such forms as January 5th on the Internet than in our corpora is that edited material, such as newspaper articles and books tend to adher to style guides of the publishing houses, where, one may assume, the form with dates including the cardinal form is prescribed. Large parts of the material found on the Internet, however, has not gone through the formal process of editing, and we must also take into account the fact that many of its writers are non-native speakers of English, as opposed to the overwhelming majority of native-speaker writers in our corpus texts.

This study only looked at numerals written with figures, not at dates with the letters of the numerals spelled out.

In those cases, the most natural choice is to use an ordinal number, as in (8).

(8) "I have been on the road twenty-three and a half hours a day since the first of May," he said. (British book)

Another grammatical feature that varies in the written British expression of dates (numeral first) is whether the definite article is written out or not (in American English the definite article never seems to be used in writing).

The example from the Longman dictionary (which is of the British type) includes the article. In Svartvik & Sager's university grammar, the example provided is in the American form (numeral last) and thus lacks the definite article (on March 6). The authors claim that British speakers tend to add an article when they pronounce this construction ("on March the sixth" or "on the sixth of March"), whereas Americans do not ("on March sixth" or, sometimes ,"on March six"). Out of the more than one thousand examples of the British form in our corpus material only four tokens contained the definite article. Here are two of them:

(9) Her husband, who was charged with 12 murders, was found dead in his prison cell on the 1st January this year. (The Independent)

(10) A great opportunity to score points by having opinions about two of the hot contenders for this year's Booker prize ahead of the announcement of the shortlist on the 28 September. (The Independent)

Dates can of course also be written entirely in figures, and here the American way (e.g. 07/05/96 for the fifth of

July 1996) is a bit confusing to British and Swedish speakers alike. We should remember that the "Swedish" way of writing dates (e.g. 2003-05-31) is not used in the English language.

When we get a particular relation to a date, such as 9 September 2001, a phrase may freeze. If we search the

Net for this date, we get almost five million hits for "9-11", as in (11), and twelve thousand examples of "nineeleven", as in (12), whereas it is much more difficult to find examples of the different order of figures.

(11) In accordance with its mission to contribute to the interdisciplinary study of contemporary issues, The Clarke

Center is pleased to sponsor the "Teaching 9-11" web site. (http://www.teaching9-11.org/about.htm)

(12) There are comparably fewer people at ISPCON Fall 2001 in Las Vegas this year than last. Most say the slim turnout is another effect of recent events we've all come to know simply as "nine-eleven." (http://www.isp-planet.

com/business/2001/ispcon_briefs.html)

Summing up, it seems that no matter what we find on the Internet, the prescribed ways of expressing dates in written English (i.e. with the cardinal rather than the ordinal form of the numeral and without the definite article) still prevail in native speakers' texts, and thus it is a good idea for non-natives to stick to these, either in the

British or the American form.

ME

5. How frequent is the construction to get a hold of compared to the traditional one without the indefinite article? I have a feeling that the construction wich the indefinite article is more common in

American English.

The expression to get hold of can have several different meanings (or nuances of meaning). The Collins Cobuild dictionary is the one which accounts for the largest number of semantic/pragmatic functions of get hold of. We will try to illustrate all these functions by means of examples from our corpora, but it was sometimes difficult to decide whether an example illustrates one function or the other. These are the definitions provided by the Collins

Cobuild dictionary (sometimes slightly modified or shortened), the first three constructions also occurring with other verbs, such as grab, seize and take:

* to put your hand tightly round something and not let it go:

(1) She's you know she's by now she's got hold of the remote control and I've got up like and say turn it back over will you I'm watching this. (spoken British English)

* to gain control or possession of something, especially by force:

(2) 'If Nathan gets hold of his ability and takes it in the right direction he could be something a lot of people would enthuse about. (The Independent)

*to finally gain complete control or influence over something:

(3) (...) but I certainly made my wife's er life a misery because she didn't know erm what was happening you see and once it gets hold of you it's not something erm you can give up easy it takes over you see. (spoken British

English)

* to obtain something, especially by borrowing it or by finding it somewhere and keeping it:

(4) Plant out leeks as soon as you can get hold of young plants. (The Independent)

* to find information about something, especially when the people involved do not want others to know about it:

(5) Are you a spy? Frankly, we doubt it; we thought so at first, but you haven't been close enough to us to get

hold of any information. (American book)

* to learn about a fact and understand it well:

(6) It is hard to get hold of what the authors are trying to say in the report because there is little concrete and direct speech. (The Independent)

* to have an idea, belief or impression, especially something which is wrong, or which other people disapprove of:

(7) There you are, you see! That's what I heard. What nonsense! What dangerous nonsense! And I hear you also have got hold of the idea that it has to be one of us? (spoken British English)

* to find out where someone is in order to contact this person:

(8) The Spaniard has been as easy to get hold of as a smoke ring this week, and seldom can a champion have progressed with such little fanfare. (The Independent)

The majority of tokens in the corpora seem to be of the types illustrated in (4) and (8). It was particularly difficult to distinguish between types (2) and 3) and it was difficult to find examples of types (6) and (7). Observe that even though concrete objects (such as car, picture, books, boats) predominate in the type illustrated by (4) – i.e. to obtain something – the object can also be of a more abstract nature, as in (9).

(9) Jonathon now knows where he can get hold of the help he needs. (British brochure)

Now, let's move to the corpus frequencies of the two construction types. If we look at the table below, we can note that the traditional get hold of construction predominates in all corpora except the one with spoken

American English, and that it was more frequent in the British corpora than in the American ones.

get hold of get a hold of

British books and brochures

N Per 10 M words N Per 10 M words

77 91 2 2

American books and brochures 30

The Independent

142

The New York Times

spoken British English spoken American English

26

144

7

43

33

5

160

4

1

9

6

14 75

6

0

2

7

150

There were not very many instances of get a hold of (except in the spoken American corpus), and there were slightly more in the corpora of written American English than in those with written British English. Both constructions (with and without a) were more frequent in speech than in writing, and as regards spoken AmE, get

a hold of is totally predominant, so it seems that this construction is mainly an informal American one – our subscriber was correct in her assumptions. Furthermore, the tokens of get a hold of found in the written sources mainly occured in dialogue.

Let us also take a look at the tokens of get a hold of to find out in what semantic-pragmatic functions they occur in the corpus material. The great majority (especially in the spoken American corpus) are of the "get in touch with a person" meaning (example (8) above), as in (10) and (11).

(10) I'm not that easy to get a hold of actually. (spoken American English)

(11) "I tried to get a hold of my wife," Mr. Muller, 36, said. (The New York Times)

There were also a number of instances of the "obtain something" meaning (example 4 above), mainly in

combination with concrete objects, as in (12), but also with abstract ones, as in (13).

(12) Oh, I think it was just for the weekend but I, you know, I better get a hold of that newspaper. (spoken

American English)

(13) "Bilingual therapy is a difficult commodity to get a hold of," he said. (The New York Times)

The material also included one or a few instances each of most of the other meaning types illustrated above. The

"grab by one's hands" (example 1 above) meaning is at play in (14):

(14) And he'd this big white white beard and this and a walking stick and he's got a hold of the walking stick and he's lying next to him (...) (spoken British English)

As mentioned above, the two types of the "gain control" meaning were not easy to distinguish from each other, but it is possible that the first type (example 2 above) could be used for the interpretation of (15), whereas the

(somewhat more drastic and finite) second type (example 3 above) can be illustrated by (16).

(15) One of these days when I get a hold of the business, I'm going to buy myself a decent house. (spoken

British English)

(16) It drives many people into full-scale bingeing and to drastic measures of weight control, so try to stem your anxiety before it gets a hold of you. (British book)

The "finding secret information" meaning (example 5 above) is illustrated by (17).

(17) On the other hand, if a newspaper were to get a hold of our little item, Mr. Zackery Botrelle could find himself boiling in some awfully hot water. (American book)

No clear examples of the "learn and understand something" meaning (example 6 above) and the "have a strange idea" meaning (example 7 above) were identifed (they were infrequent with the get hold of construction too). It is possible, however, that (18) is an example of the first of these, but it could also be a case of the "obtain somehing" type (example 4 above).

(18) Now think about the Word living by the Holy Spirit bringing this Word that is just another book until Jesus

gets a hold of it by the Holy Spirit and begins to speak to us. (spoken British English)

Finally, we found an example of get a hold of in the imperative form, where the meaning seems to be something like 'pull oneself together', thus related to the "gain control" meaning above:

(19) Get a hold of yourself! (spoken American English)

The bottom line of all this must be that both get hold of and get a hold of belong to fairly informal language, and that non-natives should avoid using the form with the indefinite article (get a hold of), which only seems to be accepted in very informal American English, where it was mainly used in the meaning of "getting in touch with people".

ME

6. I seem to notice a trend towards more personalization (i.e. an increase in the use of I or we) in scientific papers: first person pronouns seem to be more common these days. Has there been a significant increase in first person pronouns in academic writing during the last few decades?

This seems like a reasonable working hypothesis. We have seen on a number of occasions in GTN that less formal features are spreading into more formal genres. This is an interesting question for teachers of English, since

Swedish learners tend to overuse the first person singular pronoun I heavily in their English essays. We, however, is not frowned upon by prescriptivists. Below are two typical examples of how first person pronouns can be used in scholarly writing:

(1) In the following sections, I shall show that the Scottish Vowel Length Rule (SVLR) provides further evidence for these proposals, (…) (written scientific BrE 1991)

(2) On the other side, mobility may place constraints on the structure and decisions of local government, as we

will see later. (written scientific BrE 1991)

To test the hypothesis concerning first person pronouns we looked at the scientific texts in the LOB/FLOB and

Brown/Frown corpora for the pronouns I/me/myself and we/us/ourselves. These corpora consist of matched samples of written BrE and AmE from 1961 and 1991/1992 and are therefore excellent for the study of language change. The sub-corpora of scientific texts contain 80 samples of roughly 2000 words each, in all c. 160,000 words per sub-corpus. It must be pointed out that these are very small sub-corpora to carry out investigations on, and also that some of the pronouns were found in quotations.

Table 1 shows the distribution of first person pronouns in scientific writing including occurrences per 1000 words.

Table 1. First person pronouns in AmE and BrE scientific writing

Variety Pronoun 1961 1991 Change (%)

AmE

I

AmE

we

N N/1000 N N/1000

208 1.3 170 1.1

614 3.8 626 3.9

-18

+2

BrE

I

214

497

1.3 222

3.1 508

1.4

3.2

+4

+2

BrE

we

The results indicate that there is no increase at all in the use of first person pronouns in scientific writing. The situation seems to be remarkably stable with the exception of I in written scientific AmE, which in fact appears to be decreasing. We should, however, stress once again that the data is very limited.

As we do not find any evidence of change in this area we can point out that according to Christian Mair, scientific writing is a "slow" genre which slowly adopts changes, whereas other genres, such as newspaper writing, are faster. We therefore made a small comparison with another feature which is often frowned upon by prescriptivists

- the sentence-initial co-ordinators and and but. These are exemplified in (3) and (4) below:

(3) The full figure of these lines together with the vertices of H, the Brianchon points, the vertices of the triangles and the edges makes a Clebsch hexagon a self-dual configuration (Theorem 9). And there is more to be told.

(written scientific BrE 1991)

(4) Reproduction poses the most serious threat to the maintenance of class power. But if reproductive processes are excluded from a definition of class, then class itself is doubly deficient as an analogy for understanding the inequalities of generation and gender, and their impact on modern society. (written scientific BrE 1991)

These texts are very formal and technical but sentences are nevertheless introduced by co-ordinators. Examples like these are probably not too popular with prescriptive teachers.

Biber et al. in their Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (1999:83-4) found that initial co-ordinators were the least frequent in academic prose and clearly more common in fiction and newspapers. They add that "[t] he frequency with which coordinators occur in sentence/turn-initial position, and even at paragraph boundaries, suggests that the traditional analysis of coordination may not always be the best one, i.e. where the coordinator connects equal elements and is related in the same way to each of these elements. Rather, in these cases, the coordinator is more closely connected with the element which it introduces, and there is good reason to regard it as an initiator of the following phrase or clause on a par with prepositions and subordinators (…)".

The results from the present study are given in Table 2.

Table 2. Sentences beginning with and and but in scientific texts and newspapers

1961 1991 Change (%)

N N/1000 N N/1000 N

AmE, sci

But

97 0.61

91 0.57

BrE, sci

But

114 0.71

93 0.58

AmE, news But

296 1.68 390 2.22

BrE, news

But

290 1.65 425 2.41

AmE, sci

And

39 0.24

25 0.16

BrE, sci

And

41 0.26

31 0.19

AmE, news And

126 0.72 196 1.11

BrE, news

And

154 0.88 166 0.94

-6

-18

+32

+47

-36

-24

+56

+8

The table indicates that if there is an on-going change with and and but in scientific writing, then it would actually be towards fewer instances in sentence-initial position, while there is a consistent increase in newspapers. The larger proportions in newspapers are probably connected with the many instances of quotations in that genre. It can also be observed that although and as a whole is much more frequent than but, sentences beginning with

and are much rarer.

What conclusions can we draw from these results? Scientific writing being a slow genre does not appear to be changing towards more informal and involved language while newspaper language, which has been classified as a

"fast" genre is becoming less formal. And becoming aware of the differences between genres is one of the more difficult areas for advanced learners of a foreign language.

ML

7. One of my students feels uncomfortable when she needs to talk about male chickens in English. In

AmE we say rooster, but in BrE, well, you know what they say over there! Is rooster ever used in BrE?

Rooster is indeed rare in BrE. We found only 27 tokens in 100 million words in the BNC and most of those came from names. (1) below was one of the few instances of a truly British rooster:

(1) Tyson is in the kitchen, cradling an apparently tame, softly clucking rooster to her chest. (written BrE)

The opposite appears to be the case in AmE, where rooster is the normal word, but occasional cocks can be found. The context in (2) serves to disambiguate the meaning.

(2) Old Mcdonald's Farm, just behind one of the hotel wings, features several dozen exotic birds and small farm animals and is very popular with children. Its cock will ensure that you are awake early. (written AmE)

As you perhaps know, cock has a number of different meanings. Apart from the body part sense, it sometimes means 'something that controls the flow of liquid out of a pipe or container', and there are several verb uses, such as to cock something up ('to spoil something such as an arrangement or plans, especially by making a stupid mistake'). There is also the frequent phrase a cock-and-bull story ('a story that is silly and unlikely but is told as if it were true'). All these various senses made it very hard to carry out more detailed surveys. In addition, our AmE material proved to be a bit too limited as well. (Supplementary searches on the Internet certainly provided some interesting homepages but most were irrelevant for the present purposes.) Alternatives such as male chicken and cockerel ('young male chicken') are rare, and male hen appears to be virtually nonexistent.

The general conclusion is that rooster is preferred in AmE and that cock is clearly the preferred alternative in BrE, but that there is some variation. It does seem, however, that Americans always use the term cockfighting (and that both American roosters and British cocks go "cock-a-doodle-doo"). Below is an example of cockfighting from

AmE.

(3) Cockfighting remains legal in Ariz. after Legislature rejects bill. (written AmE)

It might be supposed that rooster will spread more into BrE, both because of the general cultural influence of

AmE and because cock is a polysemous word. A possible historical parallel would be the word quean ('prostitute') which around 1600 was pronounced in the same way as queen. This provided opportunities for puns that

Shakespeare used (Geoffrey Hughes, Swearing 1991:220). Quean later became obsolete, possibly because it had become homophonous with queen. Our results, however, do not indicate that there is a trend towards the disappearance of cock in BrE.

We conclude this discussion with one of those silly jokes circulating on the Internet. It is set in America and therefore deals with roosters, but the joke would probably deserve the epithet "a cock-and-bull story"!

(4) Cheney gets a call from his "boss" W.

"I've got a problem", says W.

"What's the matter", asks Cheney.

"Well you told me to keep busy in the Oval Office, so I found a jigsaw puzzle but it's too hard. None of the pieces fit, and I can't find any edges."

"What's it a picture of?" asks Cheney.

"A big rooster!" replies W.

"All right", sighs Cheney. "I'll come over and have a look."

So he heads over to the Oval Office. W points at the jigsaw on his desk.

Cheney looks at the desk and turns to W and says "For crying out loud Georgie- put the corn flakes back in the box!"

ML

8. Do you talk about drugs or doping in sports?

This question is particularly interesting for Swedes because we use one of the terms in sports but not the other.

(According to the Swedish grammar police (e.g. www.spraknamnden.se) the correct Swedish form is dopning.

They also recommend mobbning.) The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) explains the meaning of doping as "[t]o administer dope to (a person, a horse); to stupefy with a drug; to drug", so drug(s) and doping seem to be very similar in meaning.

In English the two terms seem to be used interchangeably, as can be seen in (1), an example where both alternatives occur, while only one occurs in (2) and (3).

(1) 'Our anti-doping campaign, I'm afraid, has been a failure to this point,' said Dr. Ralph Hale, vice president of the U.S.O.C. 'Many countries have lost confidence in our anti-doping effort. I'm not sure we're doing the right job.' The medical experts made their remarks today as part of a 'town hall' meeting on drug testing at a meeting of the U.S.O.C.'s board of directors. (NYT 95)

(2) The four have undergone doping tests and the results are expected within a few days. (written BrE)

(3) The majority of Scottish governing bodies of sport have now introduced drug testing programmes to combat the misuse of drugs in sport. (written BrE)

It is worth noting that blood doping is called "blood doping" and nothing else, as in (4):

(4) Blood Doping. This is a process whereby an athlete injects whole blood into their blood stream to increase the delivery of oxygen to the muscles, which can increase the RBC levels in an athlete by as much as 20%. (http:// sis.bris.ac.uk/~rm0697/ DOPING.HTML#doping)

Our corpora proved rather inadequate in the search for illegal substances, but the results we got indicated that

drug(s) are more common in sport(s) (see GTN 02:1

for the differences between sport and sports) than doping. A search on the Internet confirmed this. We searched for homepages containing drug(s) and sport(s) on the one hand, and doping and sport(s) on the other. In the domain .edu (which is mainly AmE), there were roughly 95 times more homepages about drug(s) and sport(s) than about doping and sport(s), while in .uk (mainly BrE) there were only 17 times as many and 13 times as many in .au (AusE). Of course we have to be extremely careful when using the Internet as a source, but since the results were supported by our ordinary corpora we seem to have come up with two main findings: drugs is far more frequent than doping in sports in English, and

doping is particularly rare in AmE.

To conclude, we cannot recommend our readers to use neither doping nor drugs as such, but the word drug(s) can be recommended in sports because it is used in the overwhelming majority of the instances found.

ML

3. Book review

Svartvik, Jan & Rikard Svartvik. 2001. Handbok i engelska. Norstedts ordbok.

A well-known bookshop in Cambridge has among its shelves for 'grammar', 'language history', 'sociolinguistics' etc., a separate shelf labelled 'Crystal'. It's high time for Swedish university bookstores to put up a 'Svartvik' shelf. Handbok i engelska (Norstedt 2001) is a 542-page or three-and-a-half-centimeter acquisition for the shelf, to be provided with the additional label '& Svartvik'. For this volume is jointly written by Jan and Rikard Svartvik.

An appropriate English title would be The Svartvik Companion to the English Language, below referred to as The

Companion.

Neither high- nor low-frequent words, but words of medium frequency form the bulk of The Companion: syno- and antonyms, homophones and -graphs, false friends, euphemisms, names, etc., all arranged alphabetically.

Unlike most similar publications, it not only includes UK and US variants, but also Australian and New Zealand ones. Its aim goes beyond the strictly linguistic to also comprise 'language culture'. After reading the book I can put on my old teacher's hat and tell my GramTime readers that it is in a preface that this information is to be found, and not in a foreword, because then it would have been written by someone other than the authors.

Along the road we also learn how to explain lagom, sambo or älg to non-Swedes. We are told not to say

*already as a child for redan som barn and that we can often omit the clumsiness of among other things by not translating bl.a. at all. In their most prescriptive or proscriptive moments the authors mark such words with a bomb symbol (whereas here we will have to make do with the good old asterisk: *). They warn against literally rendering our insular pronunciation tjugohundra for the year 2000 and against believing that foreigners understand our way of numbering weeks or of writing dates backwards. They miss, however, informing those who always confuse the twentieth and the eighteenth centuries, that the nineteen-hundreds could be an alternative.

Some domains are covered more exhaustively than in traditional dictionaries: sports terms in general, and sailing terms in particular (reflecting the passion of one of the authors), names of books in the Bible or the Swedish government's homepage translations of its ministers, for instance (*e.g.). You can learn what a bankomat is called, but not a nummerpresentatör. Novice chatters may pick up ICQ, CUL8R and other necessary netcronyms, thriller lovers find out the equivalent rank of a Chief Inspector and readers of comics the identity of

Gyro Gearloose.

Apart from vocabulary, there are items on discourse structure and pragmatics. Entries like medgivande and

mothugg advise on how to conduct an argument or to express surprise. Some readers may be taken by surprise when learning that Bon voyage!, Ciao and even Sayonara are supposed to be quite common in modern English.

Language purists beware!

Did you know, by the way, where New York's SoHo got its name from, or what Macintoshes and apples have in common? A great deal of fun (*funny) information like this is generously spread en passant. Don't miss the jokes under multiplikation and musik!

The Companion is such an enjoyment to read that bringing up faults or inconsistencies makes me feel like a

nitpicking pettifogger. Actual errors are rare: the capital of Brazil is Brasilia, a native from the Bahamas a

Bahamian, and there is today only one Yemen (in Swedish usually written Jemen). The selection of nation names seems somewhat haphazard: we learn about the Slovaks of Slovakia, but not about the Slovenes of Slovenia. The old Lapps have become the politically correct Saami, but the Web seems to prefer one-a Sami.

Wordlists must have their limits, but in banning persons, a few words on individuals might have been in place, and talking of plats, I lack position as a synonym, for instance in discussing word order. And what has happened to rates, the favourite British skatt?

This reviewer once got the advice from Jan Svartvik to open the doors to the academia of linguists by also publishing in Swedish. May I give some advice in return to Messrs Svartvik? Write another Companion for Swedes who produce academic writing in English. That could add a few centimeters to the shelf!

PS. Please note that GramTime was among the first to review Engelskan - öspråk, världsspråk, trendspråk. Not long afterwards Jan Svartvik was awarded the August Prize for that very book. See effective and advertising in

The Companion!

SK

4. Computer-mediated communication (CMC)

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is an umbrella term encompassing all forms of human-to-human professional or recreational interaction mediated by computers. Researchers in the field generally agree that CMC is the third and most recent communication medium, after speech and writing. Some see it as a blessing, others see it as a curse, yet others, as both. However that may be, CMC has come to be an indispensable part of our lives and it is definitely here to stay.

There are two basic types of CMC:

§ Asynchronous or delayed CMC, where senders and receivers exchange messages during different time intervals.

The most widespread among these are e-mail, e-mail based discussion lists, Usenet newsgroups, Bulletin Board

Systems (BBS), various computer-conferencing systems and personal, commercial or organisational web pages.

§ Synchronous or 'real-time' CMC, where senders and receivers are simultaneously logged onto a network and exchange messages during the same time interval. The most popular among these are Instant Messaging (IM),

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and ICQ (I Seek You). Other, more sophisticated types of synchronous CMC are multimodal (i.e. textual, graphical and auditory), interactive role-playing fantasy games such as MUDs (Multi-

User Domains or Dungeons) and MOOs (Multi-User Object Oriented Dungeons).

Text-based CMC is basically a bodiless, faceless and voiceless type of interaction, similar to a conversation in a dark room. Language use in CMC environments consists of a blend of spoken and written features, often described as a hybrid, a kind of written conversation.

Written features

Asynchronous CMC modes tend to resemble some written genres such as letter writing in their use of more or less formal epistolary conventions: opening salutations, complimentary closings, signatures and postscripts. Since in asynchronous CMC, like in letter writing, messages can be edited and revised prior to posting them, language is sometimes characterised by integration (i.e. the packaging of large amounts of information in relatively few words), elaboration, (i.e. the use of relative, adverbial, and subordinate clauses), and sender detachment (the use of nominalisations and agentless passives), etc. Synchronous CMC modes on the other hand, are more similar to note-taking, in that they tend to be elliptical, i.e. pronouns, articles and finite forms of be are often omitted while abbreviations and acronyms are used to achieve brevity.

Oral features

Yet, in its high interactivity, spontaneity and transience, synchronous CMC reminds more than anything of spoken discourse. Like speech, it is overwhelmingly informal and direct in style, exhibiting a high degree of interpersonal involvement, evident in the frequent use of 1st and 2nd person pronouns and in the occurrence of emotional reactions such as the use of capital letters (also known as online SHOUTING), emoticons or smileys, multiple punctuation marks (e.g. WOW!!!) and sound symbolism (e.g. Heeeeeyyy!).

Likewise, questions are frequently used in both synchronous and asynchronous CMC to initiate new topics. Lexicogrammatical repetition such as summarising and quoting are routinely used to link to previous postings, to create coherent discourse and sustain the discussion.

Like face-to-face conversation, synchronous CMC is often fragmentary, i.e. incomplete sentences, parentheses, dashes and hesitations (marked by dots or white spaces) abound, along with emphatic particles (just, real etc.), discourse particles (now, well, anyway etc.) and contracted verb forms, (we'd, you'll, don't often spelled without the apostrophe).

CMC peculiarities

However, unlike in face-to-face conversation, in text-based CMC non-verbal cues such as intonation, pitch, body language, mimicry, gaze or gestures are missing. The absence of these cues can sometimes cause serious misunderstandings that may lead to interpersonal conflicts or flames in group communication or even to communication break-down; these are sometimes partially compensated by the use of emoticons, i.e. special keyboard symbols such as ;-) or :-( which partially render feelings, moods, attitudes or humour.

Again, unlike in speech, in asynchronous CMC overlapping contributions, interruptions or simultaneous backchannelling such as aha, uhm, hm so frequent in speech, are not possible; neither are there adjacency pairs, like

How are you/Fine thank you. Since participants cannot interrupt each other, there is no need to negotiate the conversational floor (i.e. whose turn it is).

Some other well-known CMC phenomena, besides the earlier mentioned emoticons are:

● acronyms such as BTW ('by the way'), BBS ('be back soon'), LOL ('laughing out loud'), IMHO ('in my humble opinion'), CUL8R ('see you later') POS ('parent over shoulder') etc.

● spamming, i.e. the mass posting of unsolicited e-mails and advertisements, such as get-rich-quick schemes and pyramid games

● flaming, i.e. the posting of hostile or abusive messages in group discussions

● trolling, i.e. the posting of inflammatory messages designed to start a flame war and

● mudding, i.e. playing MUDs on-line

CMC conventions and rules of online conduct are emerging with daily usage. There are in fact already established rules for polite online behaviour, commonly known as Netiquette rules, which ban antisocial online behaviour such as flaming, trolling, spamming and online SHOUTING

Ibolya Maricic

If you are interested in reading more about netiquette, you can visit the following website: http://www.albion.com/netiquette/

ME

5. Web tips

Playing with words - websites on puns in the English language!

The Longman dictionary (1995) defines a pun as "an amusing use of a word or phrase that has two meanings, or words with the same sound but different meanings, for example Seven days without water make one weak (=1 week)." Word play is a very typical ingredient of the English language, especially that of the news media, to the extent that one may sometimes wonder what is the most important goal of the creators of newspaper headlines – informing or punning. Using puns in the classroom can be inspiring for both teachers and students. Looking at ready-made puns at one of the websites recommended below, the students can learn new vocabulary and give their brain cells an exercise trying to figure out the jokes – which is not always a piece of cake for a non-native speaker.

http://www.punoftheday.com/ http://www.punsgalore.com/ http://www.bigpuns.com/wordplay/index.php?PID=2

Can you identify the word play in the following examples (taken from the sites listed above)?

He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

There was once a cross-eyed teacher who couldn't control his pupils.

It's true I don't like soap, but you don't have to rub it in my face!

Puns in the classroom can also give the students an idea of the linguistic concept of homonymiyand lead to a discussion about how important a shared cultural background and common frames of reference often are for the understanding of jokes and puns in a language. And why not have the students try to work out their own puns in

English?

Common errors in English

Being spoken and written by so many people in the world, English is a language full of variation, and it is not always easy to define what is an error and what is just a matter of variation. Still, as non-native speakers, we often want to stick, at least in our formal writing, to some kind of standard English. The website below is one that brings up errors (according to standard varieties, especially the American one, of English) often made by speakers of the language.

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/

Even though the site is mainly aimed at errors that native speakers tend to make, it can surely be of use also to non-natives. Besides presenting a number of common spelling mistakes, the site brings up such things as:

● the difference between beside and besides

● the difference between envious and jealous

● the difference between late and former

● the use of Indian vs. Native American

● the use of Jew vs. Jewish

● the use of Christmas vs. Xmas

● the pronunciation of often

ME

6. Competitions

Competition 1: Creative translations

A 'lexical gap' occurs when a language expresses a concept using one word, while another language needs several words to express the same concept. Examples of words in Swedish that aren't normally rendered in

English with only one word are lagom ('just right'(?), 'adequate'(?)) and dygn (whose closest equivalent probably would be '24 hours'). As a language community encounters new concepts new words have to be made up. For instance, when English needed a title for a woman, which, in contrast to Mrs and Miss, didn't specify whether or not she was married, the term Ms was introduced. A more up-to-date example would be the question of what to call the decade that we're in now – after the 80s came the 90s, and now we're in the…? Suggestions have included the double o's, the aughts, and even the wonderful the naughties. Usage is still divided on the issue, it seems.

This competition will deal with words and idioms in Swedish which we want you to come up with English translations for. There may already be good alternatives in use for some of these in the various dialects and varieties of English - in which case, tell us about them! - or, you may come up with new imaginative suggestions to fill in the lexical gaps of World English. (Most of the words were taken from Fredrik Lindström's entertaining book Jordens smartaste ord).

Translate as many as you like of the following words: resfeber, slickepott, hurtbulle, frukstund, långbänk,

mobilblottare, maxtaxa, tårtning, hjärnsläpp, ligga på sofflocket, kafferep, nygammal, ordbajs, prylbög,

stolpskott (fig.), kravallturist, nakenchock, pensionsångest, sexpräst.

The person coming up with the best suggestions will be awarded our star prize Handbok i engelska by Jan

Svartvik and Rikard Svartvik and presented in our next issue. Please send your answers via e-mail to [email protected]

.

Competition 2: Digging into back issues

For those of you who are less creative but fond of playing detectives we also offer a second competition. Here we want you to dig into back issues of GramTime News, and find answers to the following questions which we have discussed.

1. Is hi or hello the more common greeting phrase in present-day spoken British English?

2. What is the figurative meaning of at the end of the day?

3. Is it OK to say who of?

4. Which preposition is preferred in combination with lecture, on or about?

5. Who is the author of Language and the Internet, reviewed in GramTime News?

6. Can you translate Swedish ha det bra into have it good?

7. Swedish students tend to leave out the definite article before abbreviations such as EU and USA, whereas

(according to our corpora) natives only seem to do this in a few particular circumstances. What circumstances are these?

8. Which medium uses the new title Ms about women more, the spoken or the written one?

9. What can you learn about in Tim Johns' homepage?

10. What is the origin of the expression the full monty and what does it mean?

Just as in the previous competition the winner will get a copy of Jan Svartvik's Handbok i engelska and the correct answers will be presented in the next issue. Please send your answers via e-mail to [email protected]

se . Good hunting!

7. GramTime publications

·

Estling, Maria. 1998a. A preposition thrown out (of) the window? On British and American use of out of versus out. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.5 1998.

·

–––. 1998b. Your English is different from/to/than mine! Om rivaliserande prepositioner i brittisk och amerikansk engelska. LMS Lingua, 5/98.

·

–––. 1999a. Going out (of) the window? A corpus-based study of competing prepositional constructions in

American and British English. English Today, 59, Vol. 15, No. 3: 22–27.

·

–––. 1999b. Fönster mot språkvärlden. Om textdatabaser (korpusar) i forskning, undervisning och textproduktion. In Universitet 2000. Föreläsningar hållna under humanistdagarna 15–16 oktober 1999. Växjö:

Reports from Växjö University – Humanities, No.3 1999.

·

–––. 2000. Competition in the wastebasket: A study of constructions with all, both and half. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi. (103116)

·

Estling Vannestål, Maria. 2000a. Korpusar, prepositioner och regional variation i modern engelska. In Korpusar i

forskning och undervisning (KORFU 99). Gunilla Byrman, Hans Lindquist & Magnus Levin (eds). Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities. (67–80)

·

–––. 2000b. All, the whole, both and half and their Swedish equivalents in English and Swedish descriptive grammars. In Att använda SAG: 29 uppsatser om Svenska Akademiens grammatik. Elisabet Engdahl & Kerstin

Norén (eds.) Göteborgs universitet: Meddelanden från Institutionen för Svenska Språket, nr 33. (111-124)

·

–––. 2001. Prepositional variation in British and American English. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco

Modiano (ed.). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

–––. 2002. Elever med svårigheter i engelska. In Vem blir godkänd i skolan? Om kärnämnesproblematiken i

skolan. Christer Jacobson (ed.). Växjö University: Pedagogisk kommunikation, no. 1.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. "Neither the singular nor the plural is/are wrong". Some aspects of number variation in English. Moderna Språk 2/00.

·

Levin, Magnus. 1998a. Manchester United are my team: Concord with collective nouns. Moderna Språk, 1/98.

·

–––. 1998b. On concord with collective nouns in English. Antoinette Renouf (ed). Explorations in Corpus

Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––. 1998c. On concord with collective nouns in English. Växjö: Reports from Växjö University – Humanities,

No.7 1998.

·

–––. 1998d. Concord with collective nouns in British and American English. In Lindquist et al (eds) 1998.

·

–––. 1999. Concord with collective nouns revisited. ICAME Journal 23, 21–33.

·

–––. 2001a. Agreement with collective nouns. Lund: Lund Studies in English.

·

–––. 2001b. Mid-Atlantic Agreement. In Studies in Mid-Atlantic English. Marco Modiano (ed). Gävle: University of Gävle Press.

·

Lindquist, Hans. 1998. The comparison of English disyllabic adjectives in -y and -ly in present-day British and

American English. In Lindquist et al (eds)

·

–––. 1999. Electronic corpora as tools for translation. In Word, text and translation. Gunilla Anderman &

Margaret Rogers (eds). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

·

–––. 2000. Livelier or more lively? Syntactical and contextual factors influencing the comparison of disyllabic adjectives. In Corpora galore. Analyses and techniques in describing English. John Kirk (ed.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

––– & Jan Svartvik. 1997. One and body language. Viviane Müller & Peter Schneider (eds). From Ælfric to the

New York Times: Studies in English Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

·

–––, Staffan Klintborg, Magnus Levin & Maria Estling (eds). 1998. The major varieties of English. Papers from

MAVEN 97. Växjö: Acta Wexionensia.

·

––– & Magnus Levin. 2000. Apples and oranges: On comparing data from different corpora. In Corpus

linguistics and linguistic theory. Christian Mair & Marianne Hundt (eds.). Amsterdam: Rodopi.

8. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected]

. We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to gramtime-request

@ listserv.vxu.se

with the following message: subscribe.

9. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in September 2003.

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**********************

March 2007

Welcome to the thirty-fourth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , PhD

Contributing editor: Magnus Levin , PhD

Contents

0. Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Web tip

4. GramTime publications

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

Dear readers,

It’s springtime in Växjö, the sun is shining, the crocuses are out, the titmice are chirping, and one gets an irresistible urge to study English grammar and usage!

Magnus has found yet another slight difference between American and British English, this time regarding the use or non-use of and in numbers like one hundred and twenty-five. No need to change our own use, apparently, but perhaps we need to be more tolerant to variation.

Maria similarly finds that a good old school grammar rule, to use the past tense with the past participle born, is still upheld by most people except non-native speakers of English like Swedes and Armenians.

One of our readers has noticed that reputedly is used sentence-initially as an adverb in the same way as e.g.

supposedly. In a thorough investigation Maria describes various traditional uses of reputedly and finally finds that, indeed, there seems to be a new use like the one described by our reader.

In another, rather more complicated, investigation Maria answers most, if not all, questions regarding the meanings of if not. Finally, Magnus relapses again and hews to his old line of indulging in marginally useful irregular verbs; this time he answers the burning question whether to say hewed or hewn.

We as well as our students should continuously strive to improve our proficiency through the exercise of all four language activities: reading, writing, listening and speaking. This issue’s web tips concern listening comprehension, which can be enhanced with the help of a number of web radio channels.

Happy reading and listening!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

The aim of the GramTime project is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British,

American, Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist. The other project members are Maria

Estling Vannestål and Magnus Levin.

If you want to read more about the project, go to: http://www.vxu.se/hum/forskn/projekt/gramtime/index.xml

2. Usage questions and answers

1. Is it ok to say one hundred twenty instead of one hundred AND twenty?

When we consulted a native speaker of British English about this, she simply said that one hundred twenty sounded “wrong” to her. However, as illustrated in (1) and (2) from The New York Times, and is sometimes omitted by native speakers. The more common usage with and is illustrated in (3).

(1) Four hundred twenty five people were killed and 510 injured. (NYT 2000)

(2) One hundred forty-one nurses said they had received requests from patients or family members to engage in euthanasia or assisted suicide; (NYT 1996)

(3) One hundred and twenty-five amateur chefs are providing an international array of dishes for a three-hour food festival today, (…) (NYT 1996)

The variation between omission and use of and after hundred in numbers is one of the, erm, hundreds of points

John Algeo discusses in British or American English? A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns (2006: 199).

Algeo notes that the omission of and is more common in AmE than in BrE, which may explain our British informant’s reaction. Below in Table 1 we compare random samples from the British National Corpus (BNC) and the New York Times (NYT) with Algeo’s findings.

Table 1. The use or omission of and after hundred in numbers (partly based on Algeo 2006)

BNC

Ø

and

N % N %

0

0%

34 100%

BrE (Algeo) 10

3%

329 97%

AmE (Algeo) 42 22% 149 78%

NYT 47 31% 103 69%

The results indicate that and is clearly preferred in AmE, and that it is almost the only choice in BrE. We can therefore recommend our readers to use and after hundred when they write out numbers with letters.

2. Do native speakers ever use the present tense of the auxiliary be in structures with born referring to the past (X is born in Michigan)?

ML

This is one of those areas that pedagogical grammars with a Swedish perspective tend to point out as a typical contrastive problem. In Swedish we typically use the present tense in this passive construction, as in (1), although it describes a past event, whereas the corresponding structure in English would include a past tense form of the auxiliary, as in (2):

(1) Författarinnan heter Carmen Martinez-Bordiú och är född 1951 [The authoress is called Carmen Martinez-

Bordiú and is born in 1951). (Svenska Dagbladet)

(2) Dr. Monsore was born in Iraq. (American radio)

One of our subscribers had come across the use of the present tense in the free on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia

(which is written collaboratively by volunteers and can be edited by anybody). He was curious to find out if it could be expected to be a contribution made by a non-native speaker, or if native speakers sometimes use the present tense as well.

We searched some of our large corpora (Cobuild, the British National Corpus and the Longman Spoken American

Corpus) for the structure am/are/is/was/were born in and found the following examples, all three of them occurring in spoken contexts and at least the first one seemingly uttered by a non-native speaker:

(3) Julia Saednowar: I lived with my grandparents in Sahle even though I am born in Damascus, Syria. (American radio))

(4) A: Because my friend's daughter whom I met er she is one year and a few days older than you two huh?

B: Well Isobel.

A: She is born in first mm mm first week in August a year later. (British conversation)

(5) My son Chris is born in England. I want him to play for Ireland but Caroline wants him to play for

England. (dialogue in British tabloid)

A few more examples can be explained by the fact that they occur in narratives, where the historic present is used consistently instead of the past tense, as in (6):

(6) Bird is born in the same year as Oe (1935), and the book obliquely documents the crisis of Japan's first postwar generation. (The Times)

A Google search for "I am born in" provideded more than 50,000 examples of the present tense, but at least many of those occurring on the first few pages seem to be produced by non-native speakers, especially Swedish ones, as in (7):

(7) I am born in Malmoe, a city in south of Sweden connected to Copenhagen in Denmark with the 10 miles-long

Øresund Bridge.

( http://www.outputlinks.com/html/people/StreamServe_Rylow_050906.shtml

)

(8) I am born in Baku and I am half Armenian-half Jewish.

( http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/garrykaspa226171.html

)

However, the vast majority of the examples both from the corpora and the Web occurred in the past tense, so we could safely keep on recommending our students to say and write was/were born.

ME

3. I have noticed that if not seems to be used with two different functions - both for contrast and for expressing a higher degree of something? Is that a correct observation?

A subscriber wrote to us, having observed that if not can be used both for contrast, as in (1), and to express a higher degree of something, as in (2). It precedes such elements as prepositional phrases, adjectives, noun phrases and numeral expressions:

(1) Designs composed of small masses of veneer forming a readable `;picture';, correspond roughly in looks, if not

in colour, to subjects as they actually appear to the eye; they seem to be in 3D even though they are flat, and to a degree they are naturalistic. (the British National Corpus, BNC)

(2) She was as tall as they were, she wore the clothes just as well and she was just as pretty, if not prettier. (BNC)

Example (1) above, with the first interpretation, includes an "X contrasted to Y" structure (looks contrasted to

colour). In the other sense, as exemplified by (2), the second element in the structure indicates a higher degree of something (such as just as pretty, if not prettier).

Quirk et al, in their comprehensive grammar of English (from 1985), mention the if not structure, but say nothing

abouts its double interpretation, and I have not found any discussion of the topic in other grammar books, dictionaries or usage guides.

Here are some more examples which might be interpreted as having the "higher degree" sense, although the comparison of degree does not concern different forms of the same adjective, but rather two different adjectives, as in (3), quantifying expressions, as in (4), or even noun phrases where the second noun includes a semantic element of "more comprehensive", "more powerful" etc., as in (5).

(3) It is highly improbable, if not absurd, to attempt to replicate such experiences in the laboratory. (American book)

(4) Within 24 hours most, if not all, the elusive material was in (Australian newspaper)

(5) Men love these princesses if not queens of self-promotion [...] (The Times)

A syntactically slightly different structure (with the if not phrase preceding the phrase it is compared with) is illustrated in (6):

(6) In a country with, if not a visual arts, then a literary and musical tradition stronger than most, the conventionally pejorative view of creative people is not forthcoming. (The Times)

When this structure occured in the non-contrastive sense, the "higher degree" part naturally comes first, immediately after if not, as in (7):

(7) [...] the Natural History Museum in South Kensington and the Smithsonian in

Washington hoped that at least between them they might eventually collect, identify, describe and preserve if not all of them, then nearly all. (British book)

Comparing our if not structures with Swedish, in the contrastive sense the corresponding structure could be something like 'men inte', as in (8):

(8) Liza Marklunds text är jättebra i teorin men inte i praktiken .

www.rootsy.nu/forum.php?id=1938

Structures corresponding to the "higher degree" sense could be, for instance, 'eller (kanske) till och med' or 'för att inte säga', as in (9) and (10):

(9) Det underförstås ofta eller kanske till och med alltid att det ligger något negativt eller orättvist i att få studenter har arbetarbakgrund.

( http://www.bodilzalesky.com/blog )

(10) Det är svårt för att inte säga omöjligt att svara på.

( http://www.integrity.st/faq.php

)

The fact that if not can sometimes be ambiguous has obviously lead to heated debates in language fora on the

Internet. See, for instance, http://www.cjr.org/tools/lc/ifnot.asp

It seems clear that both contrastive and "higher degree" use of if not occurs, but which type is more common? We decided to look into the Cobuild corpus to find out, first exluding all examples where if not had other functions, as in (11) and (12).

(11) If not 100 satisfied, I may return the 8 books at your expense within 10 days and owe Grolier nothing. (British brochure)

(12) If they are to stay, they must be permitted to move to a new home ground in Dublin, the only place where crowds and gate receipts would be big enough for them to survive; if not, all their fellow passengers need to do is to let the torch of market prices carry the ship ever higher and they will eventually fall overboard from financial asphyxiation. (The Times)

We found hundreds of examples in the corpus and did not find the time to analyse all of them in detail, but a study of a random 200-token sample showed that they seem to be equally common, the contrastive interpretation occurring in 101 of the cases and the "higher degree" one in 99 of the cases. Let's end with a few more examples,

(13) and (14) having the contrastive interpretation, whereas (15) and (16) have the "higher degree" one:

(13) Louise Jameson is excellent, if not especially American, as a doctor who returns from 'Nam convinced that patients deserve to be told the truth when they are dying. (British tabloid)

(14) I think Channel 4 got it right artistically, if not commercially. (British tabloid)

(15) Nearly all of them have said that Peter is just as good if not better than Langer was when he was given his opportunity. (Australian newspaper)

(16) It is quite common these days to hear Peter Schmeichel touted as currently the best 'keeper in Europe, if not

the world. (British magazine)

ME

4. Can reputedly occur at the beginning of a sentence?

One of our subscribers writes: "I think it’s safe to say that obviously, apparently and supposedly can initiate a sentence or clause when separated from said sentence or clause by a comma, and that they do so on a not so infrequent basis – but how about reputedly?"

We investigated reputedly in some of our largest corpora and found 84 instances in the Cobuild corpus, 182 instances in the British National Corpus and 59 instances in The New York Times from 2000. Many of the examples were from newspapers and magazines.

In most of the cases, reputedly did not occur at the beginning of a sentence. It typically came either before a finite verb, as in (1), between an auxiliary and a main verb, as in (2), or clause-initially, in a non-finite dependent clause, as in (3), or in a finite dependent clause, as in (4):

(1) Then there were the Romans, who reputedly carried haggis all over Europe [...] (The Times)

(2) It [the film Babe] has already enjoyed big success in America, and the sympathy evoked for the animal has

reputedly led to a fall in American pig sales. (The Times)

(3) At least 11 former workers, reputedly crippled by repetitive strain injury, are suing for thousands of pounds compensation. (Today)

(4) He developed an interest in archaeology, reputedly because this was what his daughter was studying at university. (British periodical)

There were also a few examples of reputedly occurring within a noun phrase, functioning as the premodifier of an adjective, as in (5):

(5) He suggested they went out to dinner on the Saturday at a reputedly excellent roadhouse. (British book)

In (6) to (8) reputedly occurs sentence-initially, but not in itself fulfilling the modal adverbial function that our subscriber suggests, but rather being part of a larger structure (a dependent clause, a noun phrase or a prepositional phrase):

(6) Reputedly born in the same year as Merlin, ad450, he crowned Arthur king and inspired his armies on the battlefield. (British book)

(7) Reputedly a fine sightreader, he has cheerfully recorded new works for the clarinet. (The New York Times)

(8) It is one of only three full-scale paintings of the cathedral still in private hands. Reputedly in poor condition when it surfaced last year "glossed and cleaned up" was one description the painting has been consigned from the

Wernher Collection at Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire. (British newspaper)

We found no instances in the corpus of reputedly in sentence-initial position functioning as a modal adverbial, neither with nor without a comma following the word. There were, however, a lot of examples of this function on the Internet, most of them lacking a comma, as in (9), but also some where the comma was used, as in (10):

(9) Reputedly they fought as much as they made love, but Siegel did not stop his womanizing.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Hill )

(10) Reputedly, there is one church for every week of the year and a pub for every day.

( http://www.venuemastersaccommodation.com/University_of_East_Anglia_Accommodation.htm

)

It is true that Google is an unreliable source of information about native-speaker usage, since so many texts were written by non-native speakers. However, we also found several examples in Google Scholar, which only includes scholarly literature:

(11) Reputedly this innovation failed because of concern that the market for USUs would be insufficiently liquid

[...] (The Journal of Finance)

(12) Reputedly, there is less risk for the patient compared to that from the injection of retrobulbar or peribulbar anaesthesia. (Evidence-based Ophthalmology)

Perhaps this is a new pattern, which our corpora are too old to reveal?

ME

5. Which is the most common form of the past participle of the verb hewhewed or hewn?

Grammar books (such as Svartvik & Sager) and dictionaries do not generally provide any information as to which of the forms hewed or hewn is the more frequent past participle form of hew (‘to cut something with a cutting tool’). This lack of information may either be due to the fact that these forms are rare or that this particular variation is considered to be fairly unimportant. John Algeo nevertheless notes in his recent book British or

American English? A Handbook of Word and Grammar Patterns (2006: 16) that hewn is more than twice as frequent in BrE as in AmE. However, Algeo’s rough numbers obscure many interesting facts. To begin with,

hewed did not occur in the past participle in our BrE material from the British National Corpus (BNC); it was only found in the preterite, as in (1). (2) illustrates the common use of hewn in the past participle.

(1) He threw her down, dragged her along by her hair, cut her head off on the block, and hewed her in pieces.

(BNC)

(2) It consisted of a cruciform church whose stone was hewn from hardened lava. (BNC)

In the BNC (100 million words), there were only seven instances of hewed, six of which were found in the preterite, and one as an adjective. The numbers for the much more common hewn were as follows: 66 past participles and 41 adjectives.

In our AmE material from The New York Times (NYT), hewn is also more common than hewed, although the difference in frequency between the alternatives is smaller, as suggested by Algeo. In NYT, hewn frequently occurs

in adjectival uses. The most frequent of these is rough-hewn (‘roughly cut and the surface is not yet smooth’). This was found 280 times (98%), as in (3), while rough-hewed, as in (4), only accounted for 6 tokens (2%).

(3) On a rough-hewn cross of oak, an almost life-size Jesus is depicted in agony (…) (NYT 2000)

(4) The store is stocked to its rough-hewed rafters with a tantalizing mix of old and new items. (NYT 1994)

Interestingly, most instances of the verb forms hewed/hewn from the AmE material (approx. one/every one million running words) do not refer to physical cutting, but instead occur in the meaning ‘to adhere or conform strictly; hold’ (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). As an example of the frequency of this usage, all 15 instances of hewed immediately preceded by has/have had this meaning, as illustrated in (5). There were also five instances of has/have hewn in this meaning, as illustrated in (6).

(5) And a series of lower courts have hewed to that line, ruling against the immigrants or refusing to hear their cases. (NYT 2000)

(6) The museum has never hewn to any specific line in the development of art. (NYT 2000)

It is particularly noteworthy that this meaning is not recorded in a number of dictionaries (Oxford English

Dictionary, Macquarie Dictionary (AusE), Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (mainly BrE)), which, in conjunction with our corpus findings, suggests that this meaning is typical of AmE.

In conclusion, hewn is the preferred participle form both in BrE and AmE, and hewn is particularly common in adjectival uses. (The principal forms of this verb are thus hew, hewed, hewn.) Furthermore, the meaning ‘adhere to something’ is a very common meaning for this verb in AmE. Our recommendations to learners are therefore the following: (i) use hewn as the participle of hew, and (ii) be prepared to meet hew meaning ‘adhere to something’.

The GTN-crew were certainly not prepared for this meaning before writing this article.

ML

3. Web tips

New ways of practising listening comprehension

Are you one of those teachers who are a bit feed up with the listening comprehension exercises you are using

(from the coursebook etc.)? Did you know that the web offers opportunities galore for creating your own exercises? This is something that one of the upper secondary schools in Växjö realized, and some English teachers there have started using the BBC to provide more variation and current material for improving their students’ listening comprehension.

Here are a few sites where you can listen to radio programs directly from the web:

BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/

National Public Radio (USA) http://www.npr.org/

Radio Canada http://www.rcinet.ca/rci/en/

Radio Sweden (news about Sweden in English) http://www.sr.se/cgi-bin/International/nyhetssidor/index.asp?nyheter=1&ProgramID=2054

Radio Diaries (documentaries on radio) http://www.radiodiaries.org/

Living on Earth (a radio program on current environmental issues) http://www.loe.org/

History and Politics Out Loud (famous recorded speeches) http://www.hpol.org/

Car Talk (a radio show about cars) http://www.cartalk.com/

As usual, there is nothing but your own creativity that puts a limit to what you can do with your students – have them answer questions on the content, write essays about what they hear, write letters to the participants in a documentary or talk show, discuss in groups etc.

4. GramTime publications

Click on the following link to see what has been published by the members of the GramTime project: http://www.vxu.se/hum/forskn/projekt/gramtime/publications.xml

5. Practical information

Would you like to get in touch with the editors to get more information, ask usage questions, give comments and tips etc.? Please send an e-mail to [email protected] We cannot give you personal replies to usage questions, but if we find your question of interest to the public and if we can answer it, it will be discussed in the newsletter.

If you want to read back issues of GramTime News, please go to http://www.vxu.se/hum/publ/gtn/

If you want to subscribe to the newsletter, please send an e-mail to [email protected]

with the following message: subscribe.

6. The next issue

We plan to distribute the next newsletter in June 2007.

Institutionen för humaniora

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Telefon: 0470-70 80 00. Fax: 0470-75 18 88

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Tryckta publikationer | HumaNetten | GramTime News | Scripta Minora | Elektroniska texter | Publikationslistor

@ GramTime News @

**************

01:4, November 2001

Welcome to the fourteenth issue of GramTime News, the electronic newsletter on English usage from Växjö

University!

Editor-in-chief: Hans Lindquist , PhD

Managing editor: Maria Estling Vannestål , MA

Contributing editors: Magnus Levin , MA, Roy Liddle, Staffan Klintborg , PhD

Contents

0 . Editorial

1. The GramTime Project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English (general information)

2. Usage questions and answers

3. Useful websites

4. Published by the GramTime team

5. Practical information

6. The next issue

0. Editorial

TO WHO IT MAY CONCERN

Dear readers,

Is whom doomed? Read all about it in this issue. Magnus also shows that even politically correct terms can be deceptive as long as the underlying social structures remain intact. He further enlightens us on the use of once/

one time, twice/two times and thrice/three times and of fortnight/two weeks. Maria goes into the organization of discourse by means of first/firstly and second/secondly, and then slips back into her regrettable preposition addiction: this time it is about to or with in connection to or with the words link, connect and connection. Got it?

We also get thorough treatment of the good old bugbear split infinitives and the less commonly discussed mis(?)use of both and as well as in combination.

I guess BBC English still holds some attraction, so we give you the website where you can find it. We still take on questions, and to inspire you, here are some pregnant ones, claimed to actually have been asked in court, that I

found on the second web page we recommend in this issue:

Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?

Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?

Q: Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?

Q: How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?

Q: You were there until the time you left, is that true?

And talking about pregnant, our most diligent contributor, Magnus, has given birth to a doctoral dissertation on collective nouns, which we hope will get a blessing at the public defence in Lund on December 8, and the week after that our managing editor, Maria, is scheduled (if that's the right word) to give birth to something even more welcome. After that, they'll probably go on the dole and maternity leave, but I still hope to squeeze a GTN issue out of them at least two times in the spring. If I do, you'll be hearing from us. Merry Christmas!

Hans Lindquist

Editor-in-chief

1. The GramTime project: Grammatical Trends in Modern English

Basic facts:

GramTime started on 1 July, 1996. It received funding from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation

(Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) until the end of 1999.

The aim of GramTime is to use existing computer corpora to investigate on-going and recent changes in English, particularly in the area of grammar. Comparisons are made between different varieties (British, American,

Australian and New Zealand English); between genres like fiction, non-fiction and journalistic prose; and between spoken and written language.

The project is based at Växjö University and is directed by Hans Lindquist with Jan Svartvik (Lund) as project adviser. Two research assistants have worked half-time in the project: PhD students Maria Estling Vannestål and

Magnus Levin.

The following corpora are used:

·

The British National Corpus (BNC): 100 million words, written and spoken British English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The Bank of English. We use a subset called the CobuildDirect Corpus: 50 million words, written and spoken

British, American and Australian English (1980s and 1990s)

·

The London-Lund corpus: 500 000 words, spoken British English (1960s and 1970s)

·

The Brown corpus: 1 million words, written American English (1960s)

·

The Lancaster-Oslo/Bergen corpus (LOB): 1 million words, written British English (1960s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of LOB (FLOB): 1 million words, written British English. (1990s)

·

The Freiburg updated version of Brown (Frown): 1 million words, written American English (1990s)

·

The Longman Spoken American Corpus (LSAC): 5 million words, spoken American English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Spoken English (WCSE): 1 million words, spoken New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Wellington Corpus of Written English (WCWE): 1 million words, written New Zealand English (1990s)

·

The Independent on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The New York Times on CD-ROM 1990 & 1995

·

The Sydney Morning Herald on CD-ROM 1992–1995

2. Usage questions and answers

1. How often are the "politically correct" occupational terms used, such as chairperson, spokesperson and firefighter?

This is one of those areas where language engineers have tried to affect usage in order to make English more gender-neutral. The style guide of The New York Times, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, revised

and expanded edition by Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly is a case in point. The authors claim that "Times writing treats the sexes equally" and they present various ways of avoiding biased choices. In the following we will see if the prescriptions in the guide are followed in The New York Times (henceforth NYT) and in other written and spoken corpora.

We will begin this study by looking at firemen and firefighters. In this case Siegal & Connolly claim that firefighter is preferable in virtually all contexts. We will see to what extent this recommendation is followed in practice in various genres. There were considerable differences between the various corpora in the use of firemen and

firefighters. The two alternatives are given below in (1) and (2).

(1) Firefighters say they're halfway there in containing the fire in Yosemite National Park. (AmE radio)

(2) Want to be firemen? (spoken AmE)

Firefighters was by far the most frequent choice in American radio, while fighters and men were about equally common in the limited material from AmE conversation. In NYT where the distribution of forms almost certainly has been influenced by the style guide, firefighter predominates, particularly in the plural. NYT was the most

"politically correct" corpus in the material investigated. The BrE material consisting of various written texts produced intermediate levels of gender-neutral -fighters, which means that there was no indication of regional variation in this case. Instead it appears that differences within varieties are greater than between varieties.

The next issue concerns spokesmen, -women and -persons. Siegal & Connolly dislike the gender-neutral term

spokesperson, and instead recommend spokesman, spokeswoman or press officer. All these alternatives occur in the material. (There were also a few instances of spokespeople). Below are one example of a spokesman, one example of a spokeswoman and one of a (female) spokesperson.

(3) Hans Klein, the West German government spokesman, would say only that Mr Kohl's last telephone message to the Soviet leader was on Friday, with a reply on Sunday. (written BrE)

(4) Mo Mowlam, a Labour Northern Ireland spokeswoman, was prepared to accept their good faith. (written BrE)

(5) Group spokesperson Fatima Whitbread commented: "The commercial activities of the club and its members will provide sufficient monies through the athletes' individual trust funds to cover the period when they are no longer involved as competing athletes and embarked on a new career."

Our material indicated that spokesperson may be more frequent in BrE than in AmE, which possibly indicates that the resistance to using -person is greater in AmE than in BrE. In spite of this, spokespersons are far less frequent than spokesmen and spokeswomen.

It should be observed that -person (and -fighter) is far more commonly used in the plural than in the singular.

This means that when there is only person involved, spokesman is generally used about males and spokeswoman about females, whereas -person occurs when several people (possibly of both sexes) are referred to. It therefore seems that it is often considered unnecessary to use a gender-neutral term when the person is known anyway.

(6), containing a reference to a male spokesperson, is therefore an exception.

(6) FBI spokesperson John Eire says during the course of this investigation, there are likely to be several others, but so far, he says, there are no actual suspects. (AmE radio)

Moreover, (6) is also exceptional because the spokesperson is male; when -person is used it tends to refer to women. This bias was also observed with chairperson. Men still tend to be referred to as chairmen, while women to a great extent have increased in status (?) from chairwomen to chairpersons. Below are instances of a male chairman, a female chairperson and a female chairwoman:

(7) Hilton International chairman and chief executive Michael Hirst said the country was a target area for the group. (written BrE)

(8) Brenda Baxter, chairwoman of the National Association of Theatre Nurses, said: There have always been unfilled vacancies in this speciality. (written BrE)

(9) The chairperson was back, Lesley seated to her right. (written BrE)

Some instances may also be found in which women are called chairmen, as is exemplified in (10).

(10) In February the Institution sub-committee reported that a meeting had been held with representatives of the

North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board: Sir Frederick Messer, M.P., Mrs. F. M. Baker (vice-chairman),

Mr. H. R. Neate (Alderman Horace Neate), Dr. H.N.C. Macauley (medical administrator), and Mr. Bennett

(secretary). (written BrE)

The statistics for chair- indicate that man/men is by far the most frequent alternative, and that women and

persons are only found in rare cases.

It is interesting to compare the prescriptive rules in Siegal & Connolly's style guide with actual usage in NYT. The prescription in the style guide that compounds ending in -person should be avoided seems to have been followed by the NYT journalists, who only very rarely make use of these, and instead chairman, chairwoman, spokesman and spokeswoman are used. The gender-neutral terms in these cases do not include the element -person. Other alternatives, such as chair and press officer are probably used instead. With firemen and firefighters genderneutrality has not reached that far, since, in particular, the singular fireman is often used. These findings show that prescriptive rules not always affect usage in a uniform way.

Another issue concerns the use of modifiers which indicate gender norms. Siegal & Connolly argue that modifiers that imply a norm of maleness or femaleness should be avoided. Thus, male nurse should generally be avoided, although there are contexts where it seems necessary to point out that the person is male. For instance, a nurse

who looked like a retired boxer would probably make a reader stop and think in (11).

(11) There was also an infermiere, a male nurse, named Luigi who looked like a retired boxer. (written BrE)

In the present material the "politically correct" terms were not more commonly used in AmE than in BrE, which could perhaps have been expected. However, in some cases there were clear differences between genres in the different varieties. For instance, a noteworthy difference in our AmE material was that gender-neutral terms were more frequent in speech from National Public Radio than in the corpus consisting of American books. This indicates that journalists try to adhere to neutral terms to a greater extent than is done in various books. It therefore seems that news media are among the most advanced when it comes to using gender-neutral words.

To conclude, it appears that there is a long way to go until there is gender-equality in English, since "male" terms still predominate. To a certain extent this reflects reality, as there are more men who are chairmen than women who are chairwomen. Nevertheless, it is mostly women who are chairpersons and spokespersons, while men have remained chairmen and spokesmen. In addition, the material did not indicate that there are any differences between AmE and BrE as regards "political correctness". Furthermore, as could be expected some genres more carefully preserve gender-neutrality than others.

As always it is useful for non-native speakers to know about ways of avoiding phrases which may cause offence to other men, women and persons.

2. I've noticed the phrase two times being used for the word twice. How often and in which contexts does this occur? Similarly, when is fortnight used for two weeks?

ML

The variation between twice and two times on the one hand, and between fortnight and two weeks on the other is similar in that one very old word competes with a phrase.

We will begin our survey by looking at twice and its siblings once and thrice. Once and twice are similar in that they are much more frequent than their alternative constructions, since both one time and two times are very rare (except in the expression at (any) one time). However, these phrases do occur more than one or two times in our very large corpora. According to the Oxford Dictionary (henceforth OED), two times is used only with a demonstrative or defining word; otherwise twice is used. Usage with one time and two times is exemplified in (1) and (2).

(1) One time, Dionne brought Jay a huge bunch of plaited purple garlic from the Breton onion man who hung around in Islington from time to time. (written BrE)

(2) Ronnie has lost his keys two times since he's moved. (spoken AmE)

One of the contexts where two times occurred was the phrase one or two times, but here too once or twice is overwhelmingly more frequent. It seems that that two times, etc., is the least frequent in formal writing, while it is relatively more frequent in less formal genres. This is illustrated in (3) from speech and (4) from writing.

(3) ... but I did get one, maybe one or two times. (spoken AmE)

(4) The family were able to visit him once or twice a week. (written BrE)

It should perhaps also be pointed out that there exists a verb to two-time, which means "[t]o deceive (esp. a person to whom one owes loyalty); to be unfaithful to (a spouse or lover); to double-cross" (OED), but that there is no verb to twice.

It should be observed that the use of two times instead of twice is one of those areas which make some language

"experts" upset. For example, we found an angry letter in The Sydney Morning Herald 1995 complaining about the use of two times instead of twice: "Thank goodness I do not have to learn the English language by reading the daily newspapers or listening to the radio. Spelling errors, grammatical howlers, variations to pronunciations, puns in editorial headings and the fabrication of words, by the interchange of verbs and adverbs to nouns and vice-versa, are prolific. We seem hell-bent on adopting all things American apparently because English in its correct form requires some effort. Apart from adding the grating "airily" to temporary etc, we have "two times" instead of twice, "one more time" in lieu of once more, "personal best" for best etc etc. Oodles of time, paper and ink would be saved if the correct use were employed." However, since GTN is an electronic newsletter, we have no qualms about wasting ink on such linguistic oddities as two times, and we therefore unashamedly move on to the word thrice ('three times'), which is "old use", according to The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.

As could be expected, thrice seems to be disappearing from Modern English. Some of the instances were preceded by once or twice, as seen in (5), but the majority were not, as exemplified in (6).

(5) Otherwise, the tolerant British public is paying three times over for its cheap food; once in the shops, twice in its taxes, thrice in its support of the common agricultural policy's dumping practices. (written BrE)

(6) Sobchak, 37, thrice married and a professional psychologist, opened the school in Moscow three years ago, developing her own dynamic style of group therapy. (written BrE)

Only 48 tokens were found in 100 million words of written and spoken BrE, eight of which were preceded by

twice, as in (5). This is also exemplified in (7) from the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible (Mark xiv. 30):

(7) Before the cocke crowe twise, thou shalt deny me thrise.

Also with three times there is an expression which may be useful to learn, namely three-time loser, 'a person who has served three prison sentences, slang (orig. U.S.)' (OED).

To conclude so far, once and twice hold their own against their competitors one time and two times, while thrice is on the verge of disappearing.

Our next item is the word fortnight, which mainly competes with the phrase two weeks. This variation is exemplified in (8) and (9).

(8) It is also likely that the percentages will be on the sliding scale that seemed so attractive to the PFA a

fortnight ago when peace was at hand. (written BrE)

(9) Two weeks ago, a detective inspector from the office was suspended as part of the inquiry by Chief Supt Peter

Nevitt, a divisional commander in the force. (written BrE)

According to the OED fortnight is a contracted form of Old English feowertyne niht ('fourteen nights'), and the entry in the dictionary notes that this word is an example of the "ancient Germanic method of reckoning by nights".

There appear to be some differences as to which contexts these phrases occur. In our material of mainly written

BrE, two weeks was about twice (!) as common as fortnight, in a fortnight/two weeks ago but less than one and a half times as frequent with (with)in a fortnight/two weeks. These latter phrases are exemplified in (10) and (11).

(10) Within a fortnight he was dead. (written BrE)

(11) Right after the explosion, on January 8th, the prime minister said the bomber had to be found within two

weeks. (written BrE)

It should be noted that there is a third possibility, fourteen days, but this is only found in specialized contexts where it is necessary to be exact; fourteen days neither means 'thirteen days' nor 'fifteen days'. This is demonstrated in (12) below:

(12) If within fourteen days of the first election, neither the President's nominee nor any other candidate has obtained an absolute majority, the President has a choice between appointing the candidate who obtains a relative majority or dissolving the Bundestag. (written BrE)

It is often assumed that fortnight is a BrE word, and this is confirmed by the present survey. The New York Times

1995 contained only 16 instances of fortnight in an entire year (as compared to around 850 in The Independent), which supports the idea that this word is mainly found in BrE. In fact, using the word fortnight is apparently considered to be a European peculiarity (on a par with writing dates backwards and drinking hard), if we are to believe (13) below, which deals with an under-cover police officer.

(13) So in his role of Joe Kennedy, Mr. King, whose native language is textbook Brooklynese, did not try to fake an Irish brogue. Instead, he made sure to slip words like 'fortnight' into his conversation, and to write his dates backwards -- first the day, then the month, in the European style. When he scrawled the number 7 on a piece of paper, he crossed it with a line, as Europeans do. Joe Kennedy had to be an exactingly effortless replica of what the zirconium sellers expected him to be. He drank enough to match their view of an Irishman. (written AmE)

It would seem reasonable to assume that two weeks is increasing on the expense of the less transparent

fortnight. However, as seen in Table 1 fortnight appears to increase slightly instead.

Table 1. The use of fortnight and two weeks in The Independent 1990 and 2000

fortnight two weeks

1990 851 (31%) 1888 (69%)

2000 1232 (36%) 2145 (64%)

These findings were also reflected with two weeks/a fortnight ago, but not with (with-)in two weeks/a fortnight, where there was no change. It may therefore be the case that this possible change is restricted to certain contexts.

In conclusion, once and twice continue to be the preferred alternatives for "one time" and "two times", whereas

thrice is becoming obsolete. Fortnight is primarily a BrE phrase for "two weeks", which remains in frequent use.

ML

3. A classical question: When is whom used nowadays?

An expected question which will get an expected (?) answer. Usage with who(m) to a great extent depends on whether the utterance is written or spoken, and which genre (e.g. scientific text or fiction) it occurs in. Because it is so time-consuming to investigate variation between who and whom, we will base most of the following discussions on the findings in Biber et al's (1999) Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English.

The variation between who and whom is interesting for several reasons. For instance, as noted above there are notable stylistic differences between genres. In addition, this variation reflects the decrease in the marking of case relations in English which has been taking place during the last millennium. But there are also other reasons why it is important to study who and whom. If we are to judge from the following example (from Raymond

Chandler's novel The Lady in the Lake, 1944:206) it may be dangerous to use whom in some contexts.

(1) 'One moment, please. Whom did you wish to see?' Degarmo spun on his heel and looked at me wonderingly.

'Did he say "whom"?' 'Yeah, but don't hit him,' I said. 'There is such a word.' Degarmo licked his lips. 'I knew there was,' he said. 'I often wondered where they kept it.'

Whom may be used in a number of different positions: as an interrogative form, as in (1) above, after a preposition as in (2), or as a relative pronoun in (3):

(2) I think that the press has felt a need to represent John Major as a man as a leader to whom we can all look in whose care we can all feel safe and all that sort of thing (…) (spoken BrE)

(3) A group of north Kenyans tested against Swedish distance runners - whom they outran - proved to have leg muscles with more blood capillaries around them and better able to metabolise fat as fuel. (written BrE)

We will begin our discussion with usage after prepositions. In this case there is no variation in writing, since

whom is used consistently. In speech, however, some instances of preposition + who were found. This is seen in

(4). It should be pointed out that whom is the most frequent alternative after preposition also in speech, as exemplified in (5).

(4) Obliged to make polite conversation all the time oh! –With who? (spoken BrE)

(5) With whom did you voice that concern? (spoken BrE)

A frequent alternative is to use a so-called stranded preposition. This is seen in (6) and (7) below. Instead of saying to whom they looked and with whom I'm going to keep in touch the speakers choose to put the prepositions at the end of the clauses. Note, however, that the form whom is kept in (7).

(6) This was a prophet in the old writings of the Jews and er one of their, one of the people who they looked to for wisdom. (spoken BrE)

(7) I mean Nathaniel is somebody whom I'm going to keep in touch with. (spoken AmE)

As for relative pronouns, the rule is that who is used in subject position, and whom in object position. Who does of course occur in object position, but this is stigmatized in writing (Biber et al 1999: 614). (8) and (9) exemplify variation in speech.

(8) Erm, she thinks it's quite a good course, she likes the tutors and, she likes going out with friends who, who she meets at college. (spoken BrE)

(9) Um now, okay, so there are some problems in getting a handle on exactly how much of these kinds of activities go on and whom they affect. (spoken BrE)

Finally, we turn to interrogative who(m), which was exemplified in (1) above. Below are two further instances from our written corpora:

(10) Whom did Charles Dickens represent in Parliament? (written BrE)

(11) Who did he love enough? (fictional dialogue, BrE)

According to Biber et al (1999:214), there are clear differences between various genres with interrogative who

(m). Who is used in conversation with these constructions, and this form is also very predominant in fiction. Who is slightly less predominant in newspapers as an interrogative, while the difference between who and whom in

academic texts was small.

As for the further direction of change in the distributions of who and whom, the following comment from Biber et al (1999:214) is illuminating: "The distribution of interrogative who v. whom across registers - with a lower frequency of whom in conversation than in the written registers reflects a pattern often found in linguistic change, with the most advanced stage in conversation and a more conservative usage being preserved in literary language."

To conclude, stylistic awareness is useful for those who(m) we teach English if they want to acquire native-like proficiency in the use of who(m).

ML

4. Which construction is the more common one for ordering arguments, factors etc.: firstly secondly

or first second?

Michael Swan in his Practical English usage (1995) claims that firstly, secondly etc. are more formal than first

(sometimes reinforced with of all), second etc. and also more frequent in British than in American English. We looked at corpus material consisting of more than 50 million words of British and American English, searching for examples of first, firstly, second and secondly with up to 20 words in between the word pairs. First(ly) we can conclude, judging by the corpus results, that people are not consistent, in their choice between -ly forms and -lyless forms, but tend to combine first with secondly quite often. Firstly in combination with second was very rare, however (only 2 instances). Here are some examples of each one of the four different combinations:

(1) First the flashes of light smear into each other over a distance. Second, light is lost in the fibre, so the flashes could eventually be too dim to detect. (British radio)

(2) As an adaptive mother, first, she envisions a pain-free, easy scenario for Kim's inevitable teething process.

But secondly, and perhaps of greater significance, the dream indicates the latent content in the whole issue surrounding teething. (American book)

(3) Firstly, the Israeli pilots are actually better than anybody else out there. Secondly, the Israelis would be concentrating only on one particular area. (American Radio)

(4) Firstly, the approach of EMU has increased the risk premium attached to DM-denominated assets. Second, in

1992 sterling was a member of the exchange-rate mechanism which should have ensured a relatively stable outlook. (British book)

Apart from this last combination, the constructions showed no great overall differences in frequency. The following table gives you figures from our corpus material.

AmE (10 million words) BrE (42 million words) Total (52 million words)

32 (3.2/million words) 37 (0.9/million words) 69 (1.3/million words)

first - second

19 (1.9/million words) 82 (2.0/million words) 101 (1.9/million words)

first - secondly

2 (0.2/million words) 0 2 (0.04/million words)

firstly - second firstly - secondly

2 (0.2/million words) 76 (1.5/million words) 78 (1.5/million words)

If we look at British versus American English, however, we find frequency differences, and Swan seems to be right in his assumption that firstly is a Briticism. As we can see from the table (disregarding the combination of

first and secondly), the combination firstly secondly was about eight times more frequent in the British than in the American material. The first second type, on the other hand, was almost four times more frequent in the

American than in the British material.

It is more difficult to say anything about formality – we would need to make a time-consuming study of context for that. Of the examples we found in the spoken material, none were of the first second type (which one could have expected, since the -ly-less construction is considered less formal than firstly secondly). We found some

examples of the first secondly type (5) and some of the firstly secondly type (6), and most of these occurred in more or less formal contexts.

(5) First of all point one this will be a move that occurs through choice not through necessity. Secondly therefore it is not a move which in any way is going to be thrust or forced upon you it happens as and when you want it to happen and choose it to happen. (spoken British English)

(6) (...) one can complement the other in a very er positive way in terms of firstly avoiding recession and

secondly getting to a higher growth plane plateau quicker (...) (spoken British English)

Lastly, we should also remember that there are other ways of organizing one's arguments, for instance, by means of expressions like in the first place, to start/begin with.

ME

5. Which preposition is more frequent with the words link (used as a noun or verb), connect and

connection: to or with?

As for the word link, we seem to have a case of prepositional variation where, judging by our corpus study, there are differences both according to dialect and according to whether link is used as a verb, as in (1) and (2) or as a noun, as in (3) and (4).

(1) But he knew he could limit the damage by destroying Kinnard's tape, the one incriminating piece of evidence which could still link him to the Military Council. (written British English)

(2) If we link ourselves with Europe our living standards will shrink to theirs over a period of years. (written

British English)

(3) Musset also had a strong link to Gerard's own roots: for a time he was the lover of George Sand, Le Berry's most celebrated cultural figure. (written American English)

(4) His younger brother Francesco, now twenty-five and a medical student in Siena, was another link with the younger generation.

An overwhelming majority of cases were used in abstract contexts, such as (5) rather than in concrete ones, such as (6):

(5) The variety of illnesses linked with life events is wide, ranging from breast cancer to depression, but the mechanism by which this volume of change affects the body has not yet been explained. (written British English)

(6) Behind the radio a paper sack sat on the floor also linked to terminals on the timer box. (written American

English)

The table below shows that, overall, to was predominant overall when link was used as a verb (70%), whereas

with was predominant when link was used as a noun (81%). Also, to was more frequent in the American than in the British written material in both cases. We cannot judge whether the same difference applies to spoken material, since there were very few instance of link in our spoken American corpora. In cases where link was used as a verb, to was the predominant preposition in both varieties and the difference between American and

British English was smaller: 78% to in AmE and 66% to in BrE. As for cases of link used as a noun, to was used in 56% in the written American material and in only 14% in the British material. In the spoken British corpus, to was rare when link was used as a noun (only 9%) and in cases of link as a verb the two prepositions were almost equally frequent (few examples however!).

link used as a verb

to with

link used as a noun

to with

written American English

123 (78%) 34 (22%) 31 (56%) 24 (44%)

182 (66%) 92 (34%) 29 (14%) 173 (86%) written British English

spoken American English

7 (78%) 2 (22%) 0 (0%) 1 (100%)

11 (55%) 9 (45%) 10 (9%) 100 (91%) spoken British English

323 (70%) 137 (30%) 70 (19%) 298 (81%)

Total

When it comes to the phrasal verbs link up and link in, however, with was the most frequent preposition overall.

We found 31 instances of link up with, 8 instances of link up to, 35 instances of link in with and 15 instances of

link in to.

************

Moving now to connect and connection we can see from the table below that with the verb connect the preposition to, as in (7), and the preposition with as in (8) were almost equally common in the written material

(British and American English alike). As for speech to was slightly more frequent in the American material (60%), whereas with was slightly more frequent in the British material (59%).

(7) It is a view that looks at climate on the very longest time scales and then focuses in closer and closer until it becomes clear how the apparent accidents of the weather are connected to the evolution and continued functioning of a climate machine. (written American English)

(8) She could not connect him with any idea of a permanent or profound relationship. (written British English)

As far as the noun connection is concerned, with, as in (9) was predominant in all corpora (84–99%) except the spoken American one, where to, as in (10), was slightly more frequent than with (55% vs. 45%).

(9) His connection with the main family line and the ancestral home of Bemersyde in the Borders was distant.

(written British English)

(10) It offers easy connections to major cities in the United States, a balmy tropical climate, lush greenery, a rich history, and a friendly people who make visitors feel welcome. (written American English)

connect connection to with to with

written American English

105 (48%) 113 (52%) 22 (15%) 124 (85%)

144 (48%) 156 (52%) 35 (16%) 181 (84%) written British English spoken American English

34 (60%) 23 (40%) 16 (55%) 13 (45%)

52 (41%) 75 (59%) 1 (1%) 76 (99%) spoken British English

335 (48%) 367 (52%) 75 (16%) 394 (84%)

Total

It should be noted, however, that a large number of the examples of connection were used in the more or less fixed phrase in connection with, as in (11): 67 out of 124 in written American English, 97 out of 181 in written

British English, 3 out of 13 in spoken American English and 34 out of 76 in spoken British English. If these cases are deleted, the predominance of with would diminish radically, even though with would still be the more frequent construction with the noun connection in those corpora where it predominated when in connection with was included.

(11) In any case, I hope that if you consider these points in connection with the story, you will come to see it as something more than an account of a family murdered on the way to Florida. (written American English)

We only found two cases of in connection to, as in (12):

(12) Other salient issues in connection to this dream include the abdication of responsibility for actually getting pregnant. (written American English)

Just as was the case with link, constructions with connect and connection were mainly used to describe abstract relationships, as in (13), even if the proportion of concrete situations , as in (14) was slightly larger than with link.

(13) Barbara was then able to connect with the real reasons for her long-suppressed anger and to discover what her mother was really like. (written American English)

(14) Once Amsterdam had its direct connection to the North Sea, the old ports of the Zuyderzee went to sleep, wakened only by the occasional flood sweeping in from the north. (written British English)

As for phrasal verbs with connect, we found two instances of connect up with, one instance of connect up to and one example of connect in with, all of them in spoken language:

Again, we have seen how complex the area of prepositional variation is, and it is possibe that we would have found other factors (apart from regional differences and differences between nouns and verbs) influencing people's choice of preposition in constructions with link, connect and connection, had there been time to go through the examples in more detail.

ME

6. How frequent are "split infinitives" (like to not go) nowadays?

"Split infinitives", i.e. the insertion of an adverbial (like not, never, happily) between the infinitive marker to and the infinitive verb form itself, as in (1), has been a hot topic among both linguists and laymen for ages.

Prescriptive rules have long stated that a verb and its infinitive marker must always go together, as in (2).

(1) I think one of the things that one must do is to never make the same mistake twice.

(2) One of the first lessons I learnt as a soldier was never to underestimate the enemy.

It seems that the attitude is somewhat more relaxed nowadays, but many people still react strongly against split infinitives. I recently heard one of my fellow colleagues at the university (a native Englishman) sigh over a student essay that included split infinitives.

Let us first have a look at what some recent grammar books have to say on the topic. In their university grammar of English (1996), Svartvik and Sager follow a fairly strict line, stating that the splitting of infinitives is not allowed if the adverbial is complex (e.g. in my present position), and that many people avoid splitting infinitives with short adverbials like never as well. They further claim that some adverbials, like not, merely and

only, must never be used between the infinitive marker and the infinitive, but they do not provide a complete list of such adverbs.

In his Rediscover Grammar (1996) David Crystal (who is, by the way, coming to Växjö for the annual langauge teachers' conference – LMS-dagarna – in March next year) observes that many people strongly object to the splitting of infinitives but that this form is frequent in informal speech and sometimes virtually necessary in order to avoid unidiomatic or awkward constructions. In other cases a split infinitive can be the best way to avoid an ambiguous sentence, such as (3), taken from English grammar: theory and use (Hasselgård, Johansson &

Lysvåg, 1998):

(3) He refuses to consciously start trying to remember what happened.

The authors of this book suggest that "learners should be aware of these attitudes towards the construction, and avoid using it where there are other alternatives" (p. 364).

Now, what do our corpora say about how frequent split infinitives are around the turn of the millennium?

Unfortunately such an investigation turned out to be more complicated than expected, at least if one wishes to compare split infinitives with the "correct" construction. Finding split infinitives in the corpus was no problem. We just searched for the combination to + adverb + infinitive (constructions including complex adverbials, made up by, for instance, prepositional phrases, were not covered here). It was the other construction that was problematic. Sometimes it was clear that the adverb belonged to the preceding discourse, rather than to the infinitive, as illustrated by (4) and (5), and such cases would of course not be counted as competitors to the split

infinitive construction.

(4) Gompers worked effectively to see future Chinese immigration ended and produced a pamphlet entitled

"Chinese Exclusion: Meat vs. Rice, American Manhood Against Asiatic Coolieism – Which Shall

Survive?" (American books)

(5) That's right but basically from for too long now opticians have had to rely on the sale of spectacles to

reimburse them sufficiently to make the practices viable. (spoken British English)

Sometimes, as in (6) and (7), it was equally obvious that the adverb did indeed belong to the infinitive, and would thus be a true competitor to a split infinitive:

(6) Those who were most effective believed their role was actively to seek out problems to solve and to identify these problems by building up relationships with departments. (British books)

(7) Throughout August, Lloyd George searched for a way to kill the Flanders offensive but, lacking the necessary political support, was unable directly to overrule Haig. (British books)

In very many cases, however, the reading was ambiguous. The adverb could belong either to the preceding discourse or to the following infinitive. (8) and (9) are examples of such constructions:

(8) To the credit of the deliberating body, the document does close with a paragraph that seems almost to

reverse that sentiment. (American books)

(9) They want actually to feel that it's a resource that matters to people (...) (spoken British English)

We therefore decided to skip the comparison of frequencies between the two constructions and simply look at split infinitives (which of course gives a less complete picture of this usage). We searched for split infinitives in three corpora, one comprising British books, one comprising American books and one comprising spoken British

English. It was not possible to search for the construction in our spoken American corpus, since it is not tagged for syntax. The corpus of British books (c. 5.4 million words) contained 157 instances of split infinitives whereas the American equivalent (c. 5.6 million words) contained 323 tokens and the spoken British corpus (9.3 million words) contained 1104 tokens. This could be a sign that split infinitives are more frequent in American than in

British (written) English (29 tokens/million words in BrE vs. 58 tokens/million words in AmE). It is also quite obvious that the phenomenon is much more frequent in informal language (119 tokens/million words in the spoken British corpus). We could further observe that actually, just, and really, as in (10) – (12), were the most frequent adverbs occurring in split infinitives:

(10) I have a strong enough case to actually sue for damages. (American books)

(11) When I continued to just sit there he leaned back in to quote Springsteen at me: "No retreat baby, no surrender." (British books)

(12) Erm we don't see them enough to really get to know them and everything is on repeat prescriptions.

(spoken British)

A reason for the frequent occurrence of these three adverbials could be that, being so general and often being used as discourse markers with many possible positions in a clause, they were inserted into infinitives in order for the speaker/writer to mark that it was here they really belonged, not to the preceding discourse.

It seems that we can conclude that split infinitives are not just a marginal linguistics phenomenon in English today. It is fairly often used in writing (except perhaps in really formal text) and very frequently in speech. Since, however, many people still have strong feelings about the construction, it might be a good idea, as a non-native speaker of English, to be somewhat cautious, and perhaps at least avoid using it in formal writing. Especially one could try to not (!) split infinitives with words like not, which people seem to be particularly sensitive about.

ME

7. Is it OK to combine both with as well as? I sometimes hear the construction but it sounds strange to my ear.

Both is a conjunction that is of course mainly combined with and. But it is also possible to find instances of

both in combination with as well as, and we found 14 instances of this construction in some 60 million words of

text, three of which are shown below:

(1) Beeston, who was sent off on Sunday for head butting, has been heavily fined by the club and will miss both tonight's second leg as well as the dream trip to Wembley in the Autoglass Trophy on Saturday, also against

Stockport. (written British English)

(2) The glossary includes both new material as well as definitions which have appeared in The Common-Sense

Mortgage, Successful Real Estate Negotiation, and Successful Real Estate

Investing.(written American English)

(3) Well the way the child draws a child and once again you can see er the profile is is marked both by the head's orientation as well as by the arms now moved to one side of the body and pointing toward the object erm er in which the action is is being performed. (spoken British English)

The fact that there were so few instances could be taken as a sign that this is not an altogether accepted construction. It is somewhat difficult to dismiss it as a performance error, however, since most of our examples were actually from written, edited sources. Nevertheless, it might be wise to advise students to be careful, and stick to the both - and construction, at least in their writing.

A special construction type is the combination of both - and with as well as, as in (4) and (5) which was fairly frequent in the corpus material and seems quite alright.

(4) Perot is dominating both the Bush and Clinton stories as well as his own. (American radio)

(5) King Husain today celebrates his sixtieth birthday at the most crucial moment of a reign extraordinary even by the turbulent standards of the Middle East in which he has seen both peace and war, as well as surviving a string of assassination threats. (written British English)

ME

3. Useful websites

Learn English with the BBC!

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is one of the most well-known media producers in the world. But did you know that they have a website providing interesting material for learners of English –