Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Determinative `numerous' not so new

Via Geoff Pullum

A few days ago, we were discussing numerous as a determinative. Peter Reed has found a example from 1766.
Mortification of Sin implies these Things 1 Abstinence from the Practice of Evil. Lust is very fertile in Conception, and its Aim is to bring forth every monstrous FÅ“tus with which it is pregnant: Grace is a Check upon it, and stifles numerous of its Productions as soon as they are formed they never see the Light, nor become visible to any Eye, but that of the Soul itself, and unto the all penetrating Eye of God, who knows us far better than we know ourselves.

Lingua Franca (the blog)

The Chronicle of Higher Education is hosting a new blog called "Lingua Franca" on language and writing in academe. The contributors are: Lucy Ferriss, Alan Metcalf, Geoff Pullum, Carrol Fischer Saller, and Ben Yagoda.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My TEDxHumber talk

Back in June, I gave a talk at the TEDxHumber event. I've been waiting for an edited video, but in the meantime, I recently found that the "live stream" of the event is still available. The video is very jumpy but it's better than nothing. My talk starts about five and a half minutes into this clip.

I posted the text of the talk earlier.

Extensive Reading Foundation YouTube channel

The Extensive Reading Foundation has set up its own YouTube Channel of ER/EL videos. These are links to existing videos on YouTube.

The ERF is looking for volunteers to maintain and update the site. This will include accepting new videos and uploading them, searching for videos, presentations, powerpoint slideshows, interviews and so on on other sites and soliciting new materials. If anyone is interested please contact Rob Waring.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What there's no accounting for

A few days ago, I wrote,
"Here I am back trying to place a word in the right box, or boxes as it may be. I'm not really sure why I find this kind of work so engaging, but I suppose there's no accounting for taste."
My aunt, an editor by trade and vocation, queried the singularity of taste.

Word Dynamo

Dictionary.com has just released their updated vocabulary learning site Word Dynamo. It looks to be geared mostly to native speakers of English rather than English language learners, but there is a level setting, so it might turn out to be useful to ELLs too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Most passive verbs in English

According to Michael Rundell and Adam Kilgarriff, there are only 23 verbs in English that are passive more than half the time.

Figure 4: The ‘most passive’ verbs in the BNC, for which a ‘usually passive’ label might be proposed.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Multiple of the people

In his post on numerous, yesterday, Geoff Pullum noted that philosopher James Dreier had sent him some examples of multiple as a determinative but didn't provide any examples. I couldn't find any in the COCA or BNC, but here are some from the web:
  • about a certain item, a book, that very likely implies that multiple of the people who visit your site are all set to make a purchase.
  • Right, except in the videos, multiple of the people putting them up are actually doing the objective
  • Multiple of the people I met were also in love with the spirituality in India, while others were enamored with the Architecture in India.
  • ...recommended it include multiple of the people responsible for the Solaris Certification exams.
  • Multiple of the people have considered this acne skin care step as one of the most essential acne skin care pointers
  • The food is amazing, this is largely in part to the fact that multiple of the people crashing at the house are fabulous cooks
  • We were certainly approached and had discussions with multiple of the people who were awarded money, about whether or not we wanted to lock ...
  • You can also select multiple of the same object.
  • We analyzed a panel of viruses derived from HIV-1 NL43, which carry point mutations at single or multiple of the cleavage sites in Gag [24], [27], ...
As you can see in the last example, we also have a hint that single might head down that same path.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

English too easy

“It is fortunate if the first foreign language learned is not English. The initial, very quick and spectacular successes of English learning may evoke the false image in students that learning any foreign language is that simple,” reads a draft bill obtained by news website Origo.hu that would amend Hungary’s education laws.

More here.

The Hungarian students I've taught didn't exhibit this problem, but then again, I haven't taught many Hungarians, so perhaps it's a selection problem. Or not.

Numerous as a determinative

Rodney Huddleston sends an interesting example from yesterday's Australian:
Many countries treat illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers far more harshly than Australia, and numerous impose mandatory detention, a provision explicitly provided for in the refugee convention.
Dictionaries treat numerous as an adjective, and I think that's right. The Australian is using it as a determinative such as many, which doesn't strike me as grammatical, and I can't find any similar examples. I do, however, find these, in which numerous is being used in the partitive construction, which typically requires a determinative.

  1. 2000 ACAD Monist: later additions to the first published versions of the preponderance of the earlier essays. Numerous of the former do advocate a discipline, the cultivation of a form of ability
  2. 1996 NEWS CSMonitor: Japan, Scotland, Australia, and Kenya. # LOS ANGELES # As numerous of the more thoughtful teens interviewed observed, a lot of L.A. slang comes from
They don't really work for me either though.

The categorization of `close'

Here I am back trying to place a word in the right box, or boxes as it may be. I'm not really sure why I find this kind of work so engaging, but I suppose there's no accounting for taste.

My most recent target has been close. Of course, there is the verb as in close the door, and the noun meaning `the end' (e.g., the close of the day); these are clear cut. But then there are examples like these:
  1. Closer to the end, I'll come and get you.
  2. The bank is close to the store.
  3. I walk to my university because it is very close by.
  4. Put it close to the door.
  5. She followed very close behind the taxi.
Traditionally, these would be classified as adjectives, and that would be that. But if you accept the idea of intransitive prepositions (those that don't require objects), as set out in the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, and put forward by Jespersen (1924) and Jackendoff (1973), among others, then number 1, in particular might pique your curiosity.

Friday, August 05, 2011


Further to my previous post, it turns out that the 1932 printing of Advanced English Syntax by C.T. Onions has the same passage, but the list of "conjunctions" does NOT include yet or only. The new edition that I have is a 1985 printing, but the copyright date is 1971, which is after the 1951 mention found by Karl Hagan.

Thanks to Geoff Pullum for tracking this down!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The annals of FANBOYS

For some time, I've been on the trail of the origin of the FANBOYS mnemonic for what traditional grammar calls "coordinating conjunctions". I recently got a copy of C.T. Onions's 1971 Modern English Syntax: New edition of An Advanced English Syntax prepared from the author's materials by B.D.H. Miller.

Section 23, (p. 14) says,
"Two or more sentences, clauses, phrases, or single words, linked together by one of the conjunctions
and, but, or, nor, for, yet, only
are called co-ordinate, i.e. of the same rank; and the conjunctions which link them together are called co-ordinating conjunctions."
This is FANBOY with an extra o for only, FANBOYO, if you will.

What I'm wondering is whether this is the same as Onions's original list in the 1904 edition of An Advanced English Syntax. Might any of you have access to this?

By the way, unlike many later authors, Onions [thanks to Ian Carmichael for the link] does notice that, "in modern English prose, for (unlike the other co-ordinating conjunctions) can link together sentences only."

[See the update]

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Languages Canada Members Grant 150 Scholarships to Japanese Youth Affected by Earthquake

Languages Canada Members Grant 150 Scholarships to Japanese Youth Affected by Earthquake 
Languages Canada members are awarding over $430,000 in scholarships to support Japanese youth who were affected by the Tohoku earthquake in March, 2011. So far, 32 accredited language schools have offered 150 scholarships to Japanese students over the next year.
The “Hope for Youth – Study in Canada Project” is a joint program between the Embassy of Canada, Languages Canada and Samantha Thavasa Japan Ltd. The scholarships will cover course tuition and, in most cases, accommodations. Insurance for all the participants will be provided free of charge by Guard.me Health Insurance, an associate member of Languages Canada.
“Canada and Japan have a long-standing relationship in education, and our members experience every day through their interaction with Japanese students the friendship that our countries have forged,” explains Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director at Languages Canada. “This initiative, proposed by our members, is the best way to let Japanese students know we are here for them.”
Round-trip tickets will be offered free of charge by Air Canada and Samantha Thavasa Japan Ltd for departure dates starting October 10, 2011. The list of participating institutions will be posted on the Embassy of Canada website.
Applicants must be Japanese citizens between the ages of 15 and 30 who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. This includes students who lost family, homes and jobs, or were evacuated due to the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
The following Languages Canada Members have graciously offered scholarships for the Hope for Youth – Study in Canada Project:
  • Apex Language and Career College
  • Canadian College of English Language
  • CLLC Canadian Language Learning College
  • Columbia College
  • East Coast School of Languages
  • Eurocentres Canada
  • Global Village English Centre – Calgary
  • Global Village English Centre – Vancouver
  • Global Village English Centre Victoria
  • ILAC (International Language Academy of Canada)
  • ILSC (International Language Schools of Canada)
  • Interlangues Language School
  • Lethbridge College
  • LSC Language Studies Canada
  • Maple Leaf Academy
  • North Island College
  • Pan Pacific College
  • PLI Pacific Language Institute
  • Quest Language Studies
  • Saint John College, University of New Brunswick, Saint John
  • Saint Mary’s University – TESL Centre
  • St Giles International
  • Stewart College of Languages
  • Study Abroad Canada
  • Tamwood International College
  • University of Alberta English Language Program
  • University of Windsor
  • Guard.me (Health Insurance for all participants)