dialect in novels

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 1 02:43:56 UTC 2001


At 10:09 AM -0500 3/1/01, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>>What's nerve-grating about a pretty good rule (although there are
>>many exceptions): Irregulars are done away with in metaphoric usage.
>>Goose (application of thumb to backside) has plural gooses;
>>preterite of fly out (baseball) is "flied out" (not "flew out"). Snd
>>so on. Chill.
>
>dInIs
>
>PS: Exception - computer mice (although mouses was once used)
>
This has been discussed a lot by linguists and cognitive scientists;
Pinker talks about the motivation for choosing "Maple Leafs" over
"Maple Leaves" in his The Language Instinct, along with why the past
of "grandstand" is "grandstanded" and not "grandstood", while the
past of "withstand" is "withstood".  The predictions--based not just
on irregularity but how the lexical item is derived--don't always
work:  I've heard announers say that the batter "flew out to left
field" (no doubt landing on the ghost of Lefty Gomez) as well as
"flied out to left", although the latter is still more common.

Larry
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