February 2, 2023

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How does his little horse jump up and down on the deck?

How does his little horse jump up and down on the deck?

It’s December 5th, so it’s time again to tackle the grammatical problem of the little horse bouncing up and down the deck. We’ve thought about this every year in this department since 2016, and we’ve only grown wiser in that time.

It is assumed that “up and down the surface” is a type of positioning/orientation, defining the space in which movement (navigation) occurs. We suggested last year that perhaps it should be a longitudinal trend: “walking up and down the street” does not cross the street frequently.

This year I have Corpus of the Dutch Contemporary checked once. This is a balanced collection of written language from different sources. What words can replace “deck”? They fall into three categories.

First of all, you have some kind of paths (locations with a clear starting and ending point) with a difference in height, like a “staircase”. Going up and down stairs is by far the most popular combination, but you also have mountain, cliffs, or rocks. One example, from a Flemish newspaper, talks about “pulling valleys up and down”. Personally, I find that a little strange.

Second, you have roads with no difference in elevation. The most common is “street,” but you also have “boardwalk,” “boardwalk,” “road,” “pool,” “path,” “path,” “boulevard,” and the same “East Coast” lot. Have a clear starting and ending point.Even in the pool, the examples are about swimming, not random swimming.

Third, you have a kind of closed environment with no specific path meaning, such as “home”, “hall”, and “stage”. They are most similar to a deck. So it seems that the longitudinal direction is not much, but the boundaries are important here.

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Peter-Arno Coppen and Ton den Boon clear up grammatical controversies, linguistic puzzles, and other linguistic uncertainties. Also a language question? Email [email protected] or [email protected].