nyzoe (nyzoe) wrote in linguaphiles,
nyzoe
nyzoe
linguaphiles

Intuitions needed

Hi everyone! I'm new to this community, so before I get to the point I'll start by introducing myself... I'm a linguistics grad student from the Netherlands, doing mostly semantics, some computational linguistics and a bit of syntax. I'm currently wrapping up my research internship, and for that I need some native speaker judgements for three English sentences:

a. Max trapped a lemming last night, even though he knows full well that they're protected by law.
b. Max trapped two lemmings last night, even though he knows full well that they're protected by law.
c. Max trapped lemmings last night, even though he knows full well that they're protected by law.

More specifically, I want to know whether any of these sentences sounds better than the others. So, if you're a native speaker of English and like to help me out, please put these sentences in order from best to worst (or just rank them equally, if there's no difference). If you want, you can add a motivation.

ETA: Thanks for the reactions! The point was the contrast between the bare plural in (c) and the indefinite singular in (a). In both cases, 'they' is used to refer to the species as a whole, while its antecedent refers to one or more members of that species. It is noted in the literature (Carlson 1977, for those interested) that this is possible when the antecedent is a bare plural ('lemmings'), and I wanted to check whether it was also possible with an indefinite singular antecedent ('a lemming'). Apparently it is, a fact I think I can use as the basis of a counterargument against Carlson. Cool. :P
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  • French: Inversion in French questions, first person singular

    Do French native speakers use the inversion in questions in the first person singular? Je pèse --> pèse-je, or do they simply say: Est-ce que…

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