This is a little bit of a follow up post to my last one, after realising that I failed to account for a few other important factors (e.g. other pronouns, and forms of the verb “win” e.g. “I won” vs. “I win”).

Accordingly, here’s the revised set of data, pulled from COCA:

x\y # “x win” # “x victory”
“my y” 9 20
“thy y” 0 4
“his y” 98 412
“her y” 28 93
“its y” 14 80
“your y” 7 50
“our y” 3 68
“their y” 32 186
TOTAL 191 913

and lest you doubt these numbers, I already removed the entries where “win” or “victory” were modifying another noun (e.g. “win streak”, “win rate”, “victory lap”, “victory gardens”), ensuring that the only results are the ones that we want (ie, the noun phrases “my win” and “my victory”).

One should note that there were no hits for “thy win” but four for “thy victory”, which implies that “x win” is a relatively recent phenomenon. A quick glance at the COHA confirms this:

decade x win x victory %win/vic
1810 0 5 0.00%
1820 0 39 0.00%
1830 0 47 0.00%
1840 0 46 0.00%
1850 0 46 0.00%
1860 0 60 0.00%
1870 0 76 0.00%
1880 0 54 0.00%
1890 0 65 0.00%
1900 0 51 0.00%
1910 0 56 0.00%
1920 1 75 1.33%
1930 0 65 0.00%
1940 0 83 0.00%
1950 0 84 0.00%
1960 0 78 0.00%
1970 2 66 3.03%
1980 1 84 1.19%
1990 6 46 13.04%
2000 13 71 18.31%
Total 23 1197 1.92%

Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t normalized, but they are certainly valid within each decade, which is where the percentages come into play. From the increasing percents, it’s clear that “(whoever’s) win” is steadily increasing in popularity, especially as compared to “(whoever’s) victory”. However, “x victory” is still going quite strong. 1920 is an especially interesting outlier because of its earliest recorded use of “x win” in the way that we mean: “…and congratulates her on her win, …” For those with a mathematical eye, you may have noticed that these numbers total differently from the table above. This is because COHA is different from the COCA, but tracks trends quite well.

Compared to that, let’s look at the results for “I/he/they/whoever win/won”:

win won
I 209 277
thee 0 0
he 179 313
she 53 118
it 17 39
we 215 293
you 409 131
they 188 138
oth 139
TOT 1168 1448

In this case, the trouble was weeding out all the cases where the phrase was followed by an object (“we won the lottery”) or where “win” was in the base form (“let her win”) or a WH-word (“what did you win?”).

So, tallying it all up, we now have a more precise total (from COCA only):

type total %total
x(poss) win 191 5.13%
x(poss) victory 913 24.54%
x(nom) win/won 2616 70.32%

As compared to the first post, these numbers are a little meatier, which makes me a little more comfortable staking the claim that the overwhelming majority of English speakers prefer to utter “I win” over “my win” or “my victory” when they succeed at some competition.

I’ll close with a final note about the ‘introduction’ to this topic, which was how often I saw the Japanese 「俺の勝ちだ」 translated as “my win” in (illegally) translated/distributed online manga. It’s been suggested that less-natural translations should be considered to preserve the ‘exotic’ quality of Japanese culture into an English-speaking environment, which is certainly a topic I’ll be writing about soon. But for now, I’ll just say that the focus of these last two posts have been more on knowing first the general consensus of what is the most natural/preferred utterance in English, which basically just affirmed for me my initial intuition of finding “my win” to be extremely unnatural. (However, the corpus did also demonstrate that there are authentic cases of its use — another thing I learned.)

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