Chronicle article on sentence diagramming

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 16 02:55:55 UTC 2009

At 10:40 PM -0400 5/15/09, Wilson Gray wrote:
>"Hypercorrect," you say? According to whose prescription?

I don't think the claim is that "my doing the judging" is *always*
hypercorrect, but that it is in a context like this one, where it
means "it isn't just me [who is] doing the judging".  "Me doing" is
not a constituent here.   Cf. "It wasn't just {me/*my} eating the
cookies, it was all of us" or "It's {me/*my} (here) knocking on your
door."  Presumably, the teacher saw the "me doing X" sequence and
auto-corrected it to "my doing" without noticing the local context.


>On 5/15/09, Matthew Gordon <gordonmj at> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Matthew Gordon <gordonmj at MISSOURI.EDU>
>>  Subject:      Chronicle article on sentence diagramming
>>  There's a kinda interesting piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (5/15/09)
>>  about a sentence diagramming class at Trinity College. The tastefully
>>  understated name of the class is "Constructing Thought," and it is/was
>>  taught by Lucy Ferriss, a novelist and literary scholar. Of course the
>>  diagrams in question are the traditional Reed-Kellogg type. The appeal of
>>  the course is attributed to the fact that it offers "finite, ordered
>>  solutions" and thus an alternative view on English to what some students
>>  have gotten from their prior education, which is some cases allowed them to
>>  write with "invented spelling."
>>  Anyway, the article describes a diagramming contest that the class held and
>>  the teacher is got help in judging it from the author of the textbook she
>>  used. So she notes," it isn't just my doing the judging." I thought this was
>>  a nice hypercorrect use of possessive (my) before an -ing form.
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
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>-Mark Twain
>The American Dialect Society -

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