"So" and Friends from the ADS meeting

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 15 17:32:12 UTC 2004

At 12:01 PM -0500 1/15/04, Erin McKean wrote:
>Sali Tagliamonte's paper at ADS was covered by MSNBC.

Actually, when I click on the above I just get the header --

TV's 'Friends' are
so very influential

--and the subhead--

Canadian study says show
changed language use

--and the subsubhead--

The study's co-author spent a year going through transcripts of
 "Friends", taking note of every single adjective.
None of these accurately reflect the content of the paper as I
remember it, except possibly the last one.  "Friends" was claimed to
represent the vanguard of language use, not to influence it; at least
nothing in the study bore on any such influence.  (There was some
nice data showing a correlation between the use of intensifiers--in
particular, "so"--and the Nielsen-rated popularity of the show over
the 8 years whose transcripts were studied, but at most this tends to
demonstrate influence of the language of "Friends" on TV-watching
behavior, not on linguistic behavior.)  Furthermore, as I recall, the
point was to examine every single intensifer ("really", "so",
"very"), not the adjectives they modify, although I grant that in
computing what percentage of adjectives were and were not intensified
the adjectives themselves were "taken note of".  Wonder what happened
to the text of the article, or if it's just me that didn't get it.


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