nothing is better

Joseph McCollum prez234 at JUNO.COM
Tue May 11 02:14:28 UTC 1999

On Fri, 7 May 1999 14:27:08 -0500 Greg Pulliam <pulliam at EMAIL.IIT.EDU>
>As long as we're looking into things like "looks like rain," can
>anyone explain the nature of the ambiguity in a phrase we hear all
>the time in commercials:  "nothing is better for x than y."  The
>obvious sense is, of course, that "(there is) nothing (that) is
>better for x than y."  But the other, almost opposite sense has
>always struck me: "(using) nothing is better for x than (using) y."
Here's one from High School Algebra:

1)      A loaf of bread is better than nothing
2)      Nothing is better than God, therefore
3)      A loaf of bread is better than God.

Actually, "nothing" in the first case refers to zero, but "nothing" in
the second case refers to the empty set.

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