Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Jul 3 00:07:37 UTC 2004

a grad student, laboring away at an annotated bibliography of truncated
yes-no questions for me, has pointed me to a very full handout for a
GLOW 2003 paper ("Deletion through Movement") by justin fitzpatrick (of
MIT), which has the following intriguing first footnote:

As will all linguistic data, the judgments reported here hold only for
some (I-)languages.  These examples may be perfectly grammatical in
other languages commonly called "dialects" of English.


i certainly agree that every variety -- "dialect", if you will -- ought
to be treated as a language on its own, but this way of talking really
won't do, because it fails to say that the varieties in question have
something to do with "English".  after all, there are billions of
I-languages around (many of them in china) in which fitzpatrick's first
two negative judgments (recast in form here) hold:
   *Someone go tomorrow. 'Someone will go tomorrow.'
   *Someone been in my office.  'Someone has been in my office.'

in any case, dialectologists, you now know how to talk about "dialects"
in Newspeak.

and, as tom wasow pointed out to me, you now see where "Chomsky's
repeated claim that the everyday notion of a language (like English) is
incoherent" can lead you.

arnold (zwicky at

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