Agreement question

Paul Kusinitz paul.kusinitz at VERIZON.NET
Fri Oct 18 21:32:30 UTC 2002

Get lost "babe."
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Lisa O'Brien 
  Sent: Friday, October 18, 2002 5:29 PM
  Subject: Re: Agreement question

  Hey there! Thanks for writing me back! You just made my day when I saw your
  message! I had one of those days today  and I am not to thrilled about it. I
  think I am going to go pamper myself for awhile. Ok well here are some more
  pics of me, I would take the time to attach them, but come to think of
  it...I don't really know how to do that. Ok well I hope you think I am
  still pretty!! Teehee!! Ok well I will check back on here a little later,
  and see what we should do from here. Ok well, time for me to make my day
  even better. See ya later babe!! xoxo Lisa

  >From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
  >Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
  >Subject: Re: Agreement question
  >Date: Fri, 18 Oct 2002 12:53:25 -0400
  >>Of course "the stories the team tell" or "the stories the jury tell"
  >>are perfectly good English in some varieties, so I'd go for the
  >>plural sense rather than the 's' business.
  >>I was asked a question about subject-verb agreement, and it's
  >>raised some questions for me that I'm not sure how to answer.
  >>The sentence was, "The stories the press tell are shaped not
  >>by a 'liberal agenda' or a 'right wing conspiracy' but by..."
  >>This sentence was objected to on the grounds that _press_ is
  >>singular and thus it should read, "The stories the press tells
  >>are shaped..."
  >>This objection seems to be correct. However, the original,
  >>"The stories the press tell are shaped..." is _not_ jarring to
  >>me, and I'm not sure why. It's not proximity concord with
  >>_stories,_ because _press_ is directly next to _tell[s]_.
  >>I also don't think it's a case of notional plurality of
  >>_press._ Certainly one would never write, "The stories Smith
  >>tell are shaped..." But one would also never, with other
  >>collective-ish nouns, write "The stories the team tell are
  >>shaped..." or "The stories the jury tell are shaped..."
  >>Even though these could also be regarded as notionally plural,
  >>_tell_ doesn't work here for me.
  >>I'm thinking that it might be the influence of the -s ending
  >>of _press,_ which, though not a plural ending, might suggest
  >>plurality enough that "The stories the press tell are shaped..."
  >>doesn't seem obviously wrong.
  >>Any thoughts?
  >>Jesse Sheidlower
  >Dennis R. Preston
  >Professor of Linguistics
  >Department of Linguistics and Languages
  >740 Wells Hall A
  >Michigan State University
  >East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
  >Office - (517) 353-0740
  >Fax - (517) 432-2736

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