debate on "you did good"

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Aug 14 22:40:53 UTC 2001

I can't at the moment think of another such example of "confusion" between
adjectives and adverbs.  My point is that there's no confusion in intended
(or received) meaning with 'good'; the adverb 'well' is simply becoming
'good' in more contexts.  The first language people are hung up on
"propriety," it seems to me; only the traditional grammar-book notions
apply.  Ironically, only the second writer, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, seemed
to recognize that 'good' could be an adverb when she observed a child
saying, in the comparative, "I did better."  The child clearly didn't
interpret 'good' as a noun = 'a good thing'!  Therefore I wouldn't say the
child learned a "wrong" form at all when it made the right interpretation
of meaning.

At 05:53 PM 8/14/01 -0400, you wrote:
>In a message dated 08/14/2001 5:09:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU writes:
> > The info-childes list (on first language acquisition) has been discussing
> >  morphological regularization by children, and the interpretation of
> phrases
> >  like "you did good" came up.
>There is Tom Lehrer's line in his song "The Old Dope Pedlar":
>   "Doing well by doing good"
>where "doing well" in context seems to mean "making a comfortable income"
>Seriously, you say "  phrases like "you did good" "
>Could you give examples of a couple of other phrases in which children
>learning EFL (sorry, English as a First Language) confuse adjectives and
>adverbs?  IF "did good" is unique then it would reflect confusion between
>adjective "good" and adverb "well" among the older people the child is
>learning from.  If it is NOT unique, then it might well indicate a
>morphological phenomenon.
>        - Jim Landau

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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