[Ads-l] Is there something wrong with this title?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Dec 6 16:09:06 EST 2020


I would find “isolations” very odd indeed, but like Joe I could imagine either singular or plural agreement with “Geographical and social isolation”.  Slight meaning difference, based on whether these are considered as two separate factors (…drive…) or two instances of the same factor (…drives…).

LH

> On Dec 6, 2020, at 3:59 PM, Joe Salmons <000008f18d0e0c45-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> wrote:
> 
> Hi Sali,
> Whether my judgments are the ones you want is highly debatable, but I would automatically use the form in the title. And I probably wouldn’t blink if an editor changed it!
> Joe
> 
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Date: Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 2:56 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Is there something wrong with this title?
> To native speakers and experts of English grammar out there:
> 
>     I just came across this article titled "Geographical and social
> isolation drive the evolution of Austronesian languages." I wonder
> whether the verb should be "drives" or whether the subject noun should
> be "isolations"--the latter of which sounds less natural but quite
> logical. It sounds like the author intended a combination of factors
> that drive the evolution, hence the plural. But the grammar I learned or
> inferred tells me something isn't quite right, though the title doesn't
> sound so odd--the editors accepted it!
> 
> Sali.
> 
> --
> **********************************************************
> Salikoko S. Mufwene                    s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
> The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College
> Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
> Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science
> Professor, Committee on African Studies
> Extraordinary Professor, University of Western Cape, 2018-2021
> University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
> Department of Linguistics
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