Apparently arbitrary dominance (AAD)

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Apparently arbitrary dominance (AAD)

Unread post by jfhseoul » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:06 am

Here are two questions relevant to what might be called “apparently arbitrary dominance” for lack of a better expression: this occurs when one grammar rule seems to assume purely arbitrary dominance over another.

The two closely related questions below illustrate this problem. Question 1 is specifically about articles, and Question is on how the non-native learner is supposed to decide which rule applies.

Question 1: Which rules apply in these pairs and triplets that *have the same contexts*?
A: He went to church today. (zero article)
B: He went to the hospital today.” (definite article)

A: I read it in the newspaper. (definite article)
B: I read it in a magazine. (indefinite article; definite article not possible if the sentence is said in the same context as the newspaper sentence)

A: I saw it on TV.
B: I heard it on the radio.

Question 2: This is a basic question, critical in language learning and teaching. Even if there is no “arbitrary” dominance of rules, the dominance of one rule over the other *seems* to be arbitrary, and the dominance will be arbitrary *in effect* in the mind of the learner. How is the learner – in producing, not decoding – supposed to know which rule dominates?

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