[Ads-l] "Does She Have _A_ TikTok?"

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Mon Apr 5 23:43:29 UTC 2021

My theory here is that it's related to what the asker is aiming to
communicate - the illocutionary dimension of the question if you will.

If I just want to know if the other person uses a particular platform (out
of curiosity) or maybe if they have a particular platform app installed on
their mobile device and might let me take a look for some purpose or other,
I might ask "do you have Facebooko/TikTok/Instagram" or, more likely "are
you on Facebook...", and I just expect the answer yes or no.

But if I want to connect with this person via the platform in question, or
check out their posts / videos / images, then I would use the indefinite
article ("do you have a ...") or, formulate the question more directly:
"what's your TikTok...". (For Facebook, where the expected handle is a form
of one's real name, this is not as likely, but if the handle is a username
or a phone number this makes more sense.) I would expect to receive contact
information as an answer.

This exchange:
- Do you have a TikTok?
- Yes.

... sounds a little bit like someone answering "yes" to the question "Do
you know what time it is?"


On Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 2:31 AM Martin Kaminer <martin.kaminer at gmail.com>

> Thanks. Still curious as to how or why a seemingly superfluous article
> would widely appear and persist when the sentence works perfectly well
> without it. The meaning of "a tiktok" is, well, anything but definite,
> which is to say _referring to a particular member of a group or class_.
> Are there any analagous examples of such conversational counter-entropy in
> other domains or is this somehow social media/GenZ specific?
Chris Waigl . chris.waigl at gmail.com . chris at lascribe.net
http://eggcorns.lascribe.net . http://chryss.eu

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

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