"Let me play _an evil's advocate_." [NT]

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri Sep 2 16:16:17 UTC 2011

On Sep 2, 2011, at 8:30 AM, Larry Horn wrote:

> On Sep 2, 2011, at 11:11 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Well, it *would* be nice to hear one of these spoken, complete with vowel shift.  I assume that was the case with Wilson's original example--perhaps on Springer or another such?  But even the others can't be simply written errors, or they'd appear as "a evil's advocate" rather than "an∑"
>> LH
> P.S.  Just googling "an evil's advocate", I find 15 actual hits (some perhaps from non-native speakers).  There are also 2 for "a evil's advocate", although that may reflect the actual pronunciation of [@(?)i:v at lzaedv@k at t], given the non-negligible subset of speakers who say "a Easter bonnet", "a apple", etc.

"play the devil's advocate" is the canonical version of the idiom.  so "(play) the evil's advocate" pulls up more examples than the version with "a(n)" -- but still, a lot are from non-native speakers.


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