Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Fri Jun 13 15:23:34 UTC 2008

No, in that case the most likely reason for the duplication is that it's a
wire service story or from a sister paper owned by the same publisher, e.g.,
Knight Ridder. It's not a case of two separate regional occurrences, but a
single national occurrence. The next most likely reason is that the two
papers are quoting the same person who uses the term/construction in
question--still a single instance of use that is reported multiple times.
(By analogy, if 100 readers submit the same citation to a dictionary, is
that 100 uses? The same goes for multiple news reports that are quoting the
same person or multiple publications of wire service stories.)

The issue is not just limited to news reports, but extends to all sorts of
web pages. The web is rife with plagiarism.

A bit trickier, but rarer, is the case where two papers pool resources to
cooperate on a major investigative story. But this is only tricky if you're
trying to establish if the term is a regionalism. Otherwise, it's still one
instance, published twice.

In considering whether or not a term is "established," the absolute number
of instances is not enough. You also have to look at the usage over time. A
spike in news reports that use a term or phrase may just indicate a quote by
one person or a passing linguistic fad.

FYI, it's the Philadelphia Inquirer, with an I.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, June 13, 2008 6:53 AM
Subject: Re: linkrot

Dear Ron,

Yup!  It is true that Nexis has a fair share of duplicates.  This is one
of the problems (alas yet unresolved) which bedevil interpreters of
numbers in using that resource.  If an article in a Los Angeles Times is
also found on the same or a subsequent day in the Philadelphia Enquirer,
are they sufficiently separated geographically to support the
interpretation that they are separate occurrences?  I've still to resolve
that one.  I can see arguments on both sides.

What do you think?


barnhart at

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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