Prescriptive Linguists

David A. Daniel dad at POKERWIZ.COM
Tue Jan 29 16:30:25 UTC 2008

> Date:    Fri, 25 Jan 2008 10:03:19 -0200
> From:    "David A. Daniel" <dad at POKERWIZ.COM>
> Subject: Re: Prescriptive linguists
> *Which car did you put Mary in the garage?
> So this is supposed to mean "Which car did you put in the garage for Mary
> (or at Mary's behest/request)?"?
Yes, that was his interpretation.
The fun part was, that no one else in the class was a native
speaker--they were all international students.  I'm Jewish of the usual
Ashkenazic background, which he knew, and he took my rejection of the
sentence as further evidence that Chomsky and I ;-) were not native
speakers, having grown up solely around immigrants, and thus not exposed
to the full 'RANGE' of American dialects.


I am, among other things, a translator (Portuguese, Spanish, French, English
in various combinations) and it seems the non-native speaker syndrome is
common to both the translation and linguistics games. That is, there are
non-native speakers who believe the best defense is a good offense, and they
come up with all sorts of convoluted reasons why it is actually better to be
a non-native than a native speaker when studying/translating a language. Of
course, given reasonably equal levels of education, experience, smarts,
etc., they are wrong. I direct anyone who feels differently to "I put Mary the car in the garage" would fit right in at
that site.

Geoffrey S. Nathan <geoffnathan at>

Faculty Liaison, Computing and Information Technology,
and Associate Professor of English, Linguistics Program
Phone Numbers (313) 577-1259 or (313) 577-8621
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI, 48202

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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