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>
> On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 6:42 PM, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
> > --- On Sun, 11/18/12, Wm Annis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > > For another example, it turns out a sentence like "a man helped me at
> > > the store yesterday" is wildly unlikely in natural speech.  We don't
> > > expect indefinite nouns to be the subjects of transitive verbs,
> >
> > We don't? Yet I hear sentences like this regularly, on the news, in
> > everyday conversation, etc, etc. We're always hearing how "an armed
> gunman
> > held up a bank" or "a black SUV barreled into people waiting for a bus"
> or
> > "a top government official was engaged in an affair". What's odd about
> > that?
> >
> > Why oughtn't we expect indefinite nouns to be the subjects of trans.
> verbs?
>

Writers do all sorts of things that are unusual in spoken discourse.  There
are reasons for this: writers being clever, readers being able to reread,
etc.  And, relating this:

On Sun, Nov 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM, Patrick Dunn <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> We rarely see definite nouns as the subjects of existential verbs
>
> *"There is the book in the box."
> There is a book in the box.
>

My instinct of how "an armed gunman held up a bank" would be rendered in
normal speech goes as follows:

"So there was this dude at the bank and he walked up to the teller and
pulled out a gun and said 'give me everything in the drawers.'"

... or something to that effect.