November 23, 2006


From a Sports Illustrated blog, by Stewart Mandell:

N.C. State fans don't take well to losing to the hated Tar Heels, nevertheless 23-9 to a 1-9 UNC team playing for a lame-duck coach.

This is nevertheless used as a negative-form additive connector, like not to mention, never mind, or to say nothing of.  John Schaefer, who found the example, speculates (reasonably enough) that it's a feature of speech that has found its way onto the net (though it's not a use of nevertheless I recall hearing before), and he wonders how you'd do a Google search to find more occurrences.  Good question.

[Addendum 11/24: Doug Wilson on ADS-L and Marilyn Martin by e-mail suggest that the target was probably "much less", a connective that follows negative clauses -- and ends in "less".  Bingo.]

So, first, a query: has anyone noticed similar examples?  Mail me if you have actual cites.

[Addendum 11/24: John Schaefer's found another one: "Miami can continue to have both and help kids that may never have seen the campus of college, nevertheless a private school." (from "dg", 7/21/06, here).]

Second, some thoughts on searching (on Google or elsewhere) for what is probably a very infrequent use of a very frequent word.  One way that might get the task down to something manageable would be to do it in two steps: first, determine what material follows not to mention and to say nothing of with some frequency (never mind might not work, because it so often stands alone); and then, search for nevertheless followed by this material. 

This is the sort of strategy that the Stanford ALL Project used recently in searching for instances of quotative all ("And she was all 'Were you in the church?'") in a gigantic database of postings on newsgroups that Google has accumulated: we refined the search by first determining the most frequent words immediately following an initial quotation mark, then used the top 40 words as part of a regular expression searching for a personal pronoun plus contracted copula, followed by all, all like, like, say, or go.  (The results of this research were reported on at the recent NWAV conference at Ohio State.)  Even so, the project took a lot of time and depended on considerable cooperation from colleagues at Google and on research assistants supported by Stanford.  Not a quick and easy task.

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Posted by Arnold Zwicky at November 23, 2006 11:01 PM