The denotation “classic” with respect to an academic article normally indicates that it was among the first articles read by the current speaker, while on the other hand being purposefully neglected by nearly all scholars at the time of referring to it as “classic.” Such is veritably the case of Pulju’s classic article, which solved in brilliant fashion the longstanding problem of English a vs. an, only to be superseded by an even more brilliant tour de force from the pen of William Labov.
In short, Pulju demonstrated conclusively (it seemed) that the English indefinite article varies not according to noun class membership, but actually for utterly mundane phonological reasons.
Sadly, Labov’s article “English indefinites on a fourth floor,” appearing a mere three months after Pulju’s work, demonstrated yet more conclusively that observable variation in the indefinite article is conditioned by whether a shopper is endowed with relatively unlimited credit, or merely subsists on cash.
Thus, Pulju’s article has become a “classic,” fully worthy of the praise and admiration of those who first read it, but consigned unceremoniously to the proverbial dustbin of linguistics soon after its grand entrance upon the stage of linguistics.
This reviewer certainly endorses the article’s enduring qualities, and recommends the current readers to partake of them, in spite of Labov’s decimation of its conclusions.