lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Wed Jan 19 09:01:20 UTC 2000
Ron Butters said:
> I just asked two guys from Chicago about this (one is actually from central
> Micihgan, age about 30; the other is 40).
> They are both aware of BOTH usages and seem to find a semantic distinction
> between them: BY ACCIDENT means "unintentionally" in a broad sense; ON
> ACCIDENT refers to some physical incident in which someone is culpible: BY
> ACCIDENT I CAME ACROSS SOME FAMILY JEWELS HIDDENT IN A WALL but ON ACCIDENT I
> TIPPED OVER THE DRINK.
This sounds absolutely right to me. I think it further underscores the
relation to 'on purpose', since the kinds of things that get done 'on acci-
dent' can also get done 'on purpose', but those that happen 'by accident'
can't necessarily _happen_ 'on purpose'.
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