Linguistic dark matter

Federico Escobar federicoescobarcordoba at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 18 18:55:33 UTC 2010

On the cairn of justified complaints into which this thread on dark matter
has become, let me toss another chuckie.

In D. Bolinger's *Language - The Loaded Weapon*, I was delighted to find
this quote: "Language is a stage built over a graveyard from which fossils
rise and dance at night" (p. 103). So I Googled it, thinking I'd find page
after page of hits.

There were none.

I've become so overly reliant on Google as a search engine (and I think
others on the list have too, as the phrase "raw Google hits" has become a
staple part of posts), that I usually take it for granted that zero Google
hits means zero hits on the Internet.  I tried Blekko, a search engine that
was discussed some time ago, and sure enough a hit came up (it did when I
looked up the first chunk: "Language is a stage built over a graveyard from
which fossils"). Blekko gives credit to Yahoo, but there are no hits either
on Yahoo. So it seems Blekko extorted the sentence from the Internet's dark
matter. I've tried a couple other 0 Google hits searches on Blekko, and,
sure enough, there were a handful of hits (also credited to Yahoo, while
Yahoo itself yields no hits).

So it seems information on the Internet is not coterminous with what's
available on Google. We all know that, of course, but Googling has become a
handy reflex that may have expunged plenty of information.

Let me wish everyone a good weekend.

On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 2:43 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Linguistic dark matter
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> When did they stop?
>     VS-)
> On 12/18/2010 12:37 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> > But I think it does matter, Jon, if future researchers start relying
> > on questionable data.
> >
> > Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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