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

Beth Young zbyoung at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 6 01:17:12 UTC 2021

My sense is similar to what Chris Waigl said.

To me, the question "Do you have Facebook" (no article) sounds like asking
"do you have access to the Facebook website/app." It might be asked of an
elderly person at church, for example, in a discussion of where they can
find information about an upcoming event. First, you ascertain that they
have/can use Facebook, then you tell them how to find the correct Facebook
page, etc.

By contrast, the question "Do you have a Facebook" (article) asks whether
they have an account or page on Facebook that could be looked up even
"friended." I'd expect the answer to include info about how to find that
person's page, or "Yes but I only share it with family" or something along
those lines. Not a bare yes/no.


On Mon, Apr 5, 2021 at 7:43 PM Chris Waigl <chris at lascribe.net> wrote:

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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list