Monday, February 16, 2015

"Special for" v. "special to": 3 to 6 or 16 to 14?

On a quick break between a family emergency and tests, I ran a few searches on the Compleat LexTutor site for phrases that someone had asked about at the PIGATE gathering on Sat., Feb. 14.

In a mega corpus of approx. 3 million words, here's what I found:
The mega corpus is approx. 2/3 British National Corpus (BNC: written + spoken).

A couple of bigger, slower searches of the BNC plus the larger Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), approx. 14 million words in all, gave different results:

  • "Special" with "for" within a few words and words that repeat 1 word to the right of special:
    • for=16, interest=3, provisions=3, time=3, ...
  • "Special" with "to" within a few words and words that repeat 1 word to the right of special
    • to=14, interest=11, issue=10, attention=6, access=3, effort=3, permission=3, prosecutor=3, reference=3, way=3, ...

Though convenient findings like these may be inconclusive, since they don't directly compare the BNC to the COCA, perhaps the author of the textbook passage in question was inclined toward British usage. [As I recall, the next word after "for" or "to" was a pronoun ("special * her"?). Anyone keen to dig into that?]

[243 words]

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