"all" = very; quite

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 22 01:37:18 UTC 2005

On 10/19/05, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "all" = very; quite
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Oct 18, 2005, at 10:23 AM, Jon Lighter wrote:
> > Now I've got it *all* figured out. The OED definition fails to
> > distinguish between two distinguishable meanings of "all."...
> >
> > ... My suspicion is that early exx. of adv. "all" in such contexts
> > overwhelmingly emphasize *utterness and completeness,* while more
> > modern exx. are about equally likely to emphasize  *intensity.*
> the stanford ALL project believes that the totality reading of
> adverbial ALL came first (developing from the pronoun/quantifier
> ALL), but that a booster/reinforcer reading ('very') developed from
> this pretty early and has coexisted with the other reading for a very
> long time.  a great many examples can be understood either way, and
> it's not clear that speakers have always distinguished them.
> by the way, TOTALLY, which obviously started out as a totality
> adverb, has fairly recently picked up a simple reinforcer use/
> meaning, too.
> arnold

As a matter of fact! [Once used in the early '60's to mean, "I'm in
complete agreement with you," extracted from, "As a matter of fact,
that is the most brilliant exposition of quantum theory that I've ever
heard!' etc.]


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