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Collective nouns and language change
Växjö University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Humanities.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5613-7618
2006 (English)In: English Language and Linguistics, ISSN 1360-6743, Vol. 10, no 2, p. 321–343-Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study concerns the changing and variable agreement patterns with 21 low-frequency collective nouns (e.g. trio) in British English. The data comes from the 1990 and 2000 CD-ROM editions of The Independent. The token frequencies of nouns do not appear to affect the preference for singular verb agreement. There are however clear differences between noun types, as is typical for lexical diffusion. Most nouns have developed a strong preference for singular verb agreement, some remain variable and some prefer the plural. Many of the agreement patterns for individual nouns can be motivated with reference to the characteristics of the nouns rather than to the semantics of the verbs. This investigation found no evidence that singular verb agreement, which is argued in this study to be the unmarked alternative, is generally on the increase. Rather it seems that nouns which prefer plural verbs continue to move towards plural agreement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cambridge University Press , 2006. Vol. 10, no 2, p. 321–343-
Keywords [en]
agreement, concord, markedness, collective nouns, language change
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
Humanities, English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:vxu:diva-2794OAI: oai:DiVA.org:vxu-2794DiVA, id: diva2:202750
Available from: 2006-12-20 Created: 2006-12-20 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Levin, Magnus

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf