In a recent editorial exchange on Speculative Grammarian’s loosely-
(1) Five of our authors are deviant.
Naturally, this audacity provoked anger, irritation, and other pleasurable emotions, and a bit of a row ensued. Somewhere around response #458, the original poster finally clarified that s/he had meant to write
(2) Five of our articles are deviant.
Although falling somewhere short of self-
While desperately searching for an article to fill out an otherwise meager issue, I read back through the entire discussion and discovered the minimal pair here represented as (1) and (2). And of course, the relevance of this data to the age-
It will be immediately apparent to those who have read this far that (1), produced when in fact (2) was intended, is an example of an Editorial Error (EE). Furthermore, I take it as self-
(3) (1) > (2)
is a prototypical example of an EE, and therefore that an adequate analysis of (3) will in fact shed light on all instances of EE. Furthermore, as EE are clearly a subtype of performance error (PE), any EE instantiates all PE and by extension all human behavior (HB), which of course consists primarily of PE on most normal days.
To turn now to the proposed analysis, I note that the Editor in Error referred to five authors (example 1), when s/he meant to refer to five articles (example 2). The margin of this error falls within one standard deviation, based on the semantic categories of Lakoff’s Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, which I take to be the most advanced typology of human categorization available at the moment. Thus, the standard deviation is demonstrated to hold for all HB.
In many cases, a slightly more abstract formulation allows for a more insightful analysis. Such is true here, with the formulation of (3) inviting us to make an alternate analysis from a historical point of view. For this analysis, of course, we must take Greenberg’s mass comparison as the standard. I need not bother showing the correspondences, but I will anyway:
(4a) A TH R S
(4b) A TC L S
So even under this much more rigorous standard, this EE is easily within a standard deviation. Such is the power of applying linguistic theory properly to an otherwise difficult-
It is apparent, then, that the distribution of EE shows that all HB phenomena have “normal” distributions. This is critical for showing that common statistical tests can be used in any situation.