Re: [ADS-L] all of the sudden, one at the time, still in the bed

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Sep 7 13:30:33 UTC 2006

Yes, the "weak" definites are more like "He is still in the bed"--suggesting 
that the person has only one arm or mirror, that there is only one dictionary, 
etc. (the "wall" example doesn't seem particularly "weak" to me). Still, the 
"suggestion" is overridden by the idiomatic nature of the utterance, and if 
one's idiom is not "the bed" or "the hospital" the semantic implications are 
apparent. One would never say, "Look it up in the index" in this same weak sense.

In a message dated 9/7/06 12:06:56 AM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:

> >
> What did your Iowa grammar tell you about "He was punched in the arm"
> or "You should look it up in the dictionary" or "Go look in the
> mirror" or "Don't scribble on the wall"?  These have been discussed
> (sometimes under the rubric of "weak definites") and I think
> represent a rather different phenomenon from "one at the time" or
> "all of the sudden", which seem entirely foreign to me, partly
> because "one at a time" and "all of a sudden" appear to be idiomatic
> and entirely non-compositional in terms of the indefinite.  Those
> examples are closer to "He kicked a bucket", involving a dialectal or
> idiolectal reanalysis of the idiom rather than an extension of
> definites under certain semantic and pragmatic conditions.
> LH

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