James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Sat May 19 03:47:41 UTC 2007

>(I have data on this from a study I did
>recently: two separate groups (n>100 each), rating either "We want to
>aggressively pursue this opportunity" or "We wish to aggressively
>purse this opportunity," rated the formality of the "want" verson as
>a mean of 3.49 out of 5, and of the "wish" version as a mean of 3.92
>out of 5. A Student's t-test gives significance at 0.001. These
>sentences were actually part of the distractor set from the study,
>but it's an interesting snippet)

I almost forgot to mention: they also were more likely to rate the
"wish" version as correct. Numbers for that rating: "want": incorrect
44, correct 54; "wish": incorrect 26, correct 81.

One thing I got from that study was a demonstration that correctness
judgement and formality rating usually _but not always_ go together
to at least some degree. In some cases the correctness judgements
vary while the formality ratings don't: in some cases, vice versa;
and in some cases, the version with the greater incorrectness
judgement actually gets a higher formality rating, at least slightly.

James Harbeck

The American Dialect Society -

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