[Ads-l] Is there something wrong with this title?

Joe Salmons 000008f18d0e0c45-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Sun Dec 6 20:59:14 UTC 2020

Hi Sali,
Whether my judgments are the ones you want is highly debatable, but I would automatically use the form in the title. And I probably wouldn’t blink if an editor changed it!

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Date: Sunday, December 6, 2020 at 2:56 PM
Subject: Is there something wrong with this title?
To native speakers and experts of English grammar out there:

     I just came across this article titled "Geographical and social
isolation drive the evolution of Austronesian languages." I wonder
whether the verb should be "drives" or whether the subject noun should
be "isolations"--the latter of which sounds less natural but quite
logical. It sounds like the author intended a combination of factors
that drive the evolution, hence the plural. But the grammar I learned or
inferred tells me something isn't quite right, though the title doesn't
sound so odd--the editors accepted it!


Salikoko S. Mufwene                    s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College
Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science
Professor, Committee on African Studies
Extraordinary Professor, University of Western Cape, 2018-2021
University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
Department of Linguistics
1115 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637, USA

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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