on the other hand

Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 5 19:47:35 UTC 2009

I feel compelled to point out that Google is notoriously unreliable in
this particular instance. I did run the pair "on one side"/"on the one
side" and the ratio is 11:1 in favor of no article (27.5 mil ghits vs.
2.47 mil ghits). However, it is easy to see that the numbers really
don't add up--that the same applies to the "hand" version. For example,
"all on one hand", would also show up in the count (37.5K worth) as well
as "all on the one hand" (14.2K worth). It is hard to imagine where
these thousands of examples would have any relation to the question I
was asking. Similarly, someone writing "lined them all up on one side"
has no bearing on the judgment of "on (the) one side/on the other side"
idiom. From what I quickly counted up, it seems that the relevant
examples, aside from the early definitional ones that usually tend to
float to the top, are in the minority. Yeah, 157 mil to 11.3 mil sounds
like a lot.

But I find it hard to accept the comparison with "Pliny the Elder" as
being relevant here. If we go that route, then shouldn't the numbers for
"on (the) one side" also appear reversed? "One" and "The One" simply
don't have the same kind of distribution as "The Elder/Younger". I find
this particular sort of "evidence" feeble. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Now, as for September the Eleventh, I have no problem letting that one
go. It is a non-standard expression in my stratum, as far as it goes,
but I did try to convey that it is far less marked than the other two
(on the one hand and on the one side). And, last I checked, this was an
American *Dialect* Society list, so, it would seem, dialectal
variations, where some expressions are virtually non-existent in one
part of the country (But not, *the one part of the country) while being
prevalent in another is a relevant topic for discussion, particularly
when we are talking about expression that are *extremely* common.

But I am perfectly willing to hang my amateur hat on another nail. I do
not wish to pretend to possess some sort of higher knowledge--far from
it, I mostly rely on observations, which, of course, may be quite biased
or incorrect altogether. However it may be, I take it all in good
humor--and wish everyone else would do likewise.


Mark Mandel wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM, Victor <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I did not ask because I was too lazy to do a Google search.
> And I'll now add one more Gnum:
> about 10,400 for "on the gripping hand"

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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