Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 18 02:27:58 UTC 2009

I've found that paradoxical reaction with "hone in on," which several
people have insisted to me was the correct form and "home in on" made
no sense at all.  I believe we've discussed this one before.  I
noticed that the edition of MWDEU that I have credits the earliest
usage to George H. W. Bush in a 1977 or 1978 campaign speech.  The
newer edition, I believe, traces it back at least another decade, but
I don't have that edition.


On Sat, Jan 17, 2009 at 1:04 PM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Pronuncations
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Jan 15, 2009, at 11:16 AM, Barbara Need wrote:
>> Some years ago I was teaching an Intro to Linguistics using the OSU
>> Language Files. one of the exercises listed alternative pronunciations
>> and asked students to say which they used and which was "correct". One
>> of the pairs was just this pair of variants. The student who got this
>> as we went around the class confessed to using the t-less
>> pronunciation, "but I know it's wrong".
> lovely.  over the years i've come across a number of other reversals
> in usage judgments.  there are actually two types of such reversals,
> the difference being in how much confidence judges have in their own
> practices.
> both types depend on the judges knowing that there is some
> prescription as to the choice of variant.  if judges are unsure of the
> correctness of their grammar -- many people are -- then even if they
> use the prescribed form, they will be inclined to apologize for their
> usage (as above).
> but if judges are more confident that what they say is right (though
> in fact they use the proscribed variant), then they will be inclined
> to "correct" people who use the prescribed variant.  somewhere i have
> an account of a non-linguist friend who expressed astonishment that i,
> a linguist, wrote something like "They were lying on the bed" -- when,
> according to him, it should be "laying".  he knew that there was a
> usage issue here, and assumed that his version was correct.
> i should try to find these reports and assemble them into a file.
> arnold
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