An army or a dozen

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Feb 8 03:04:09 UTC 2008

>At 2/7/2008 04:13 AM, LanDi Liu wrote:
>>Oh!  Just as I sent that, I remembered a construction like that (which I
>>guess was sitting in the back of my brain making me feel that this wasn't an
>>isolated example)!  It's from Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away" (1998): "the Milky
>>Way, or even Mars".

Of course metrical considerations and rhyme scheme is involved there--

Let's go see the stars,
The Milky Way or even Mars

--overcoming the fact that "Mars" is not only the last mentioned in
the series of two but that it's the focus of "even", which usually
accompanies the more extreme element on a given scale.

>For God, for country, and for Yale.

Hey, around here that's considered a crescendo!

>I take
>>"The Lion declared he was afraid of nothing on earth, and would gladly face
>>an army or a dozen of the fierce Kalidahs."
>to be intended as humorous, as are several other expressions like the
>"Yale" one that are on the tip of my brain but not emerging, which
>end with something like "or even X", where X is smaller than the
>thing(s) that have preceded it.

There's no "even" in the Yale dictum, but I will concede that some
outside New Haven might consider it to represent the kind of
anticlimactic end-of-series you're looking for.


>  My subconscious tells me to think of
>comic strips -- Pogo?
>>On Feb 7, 2008 5:03 PM, LanDi Liu <strangeguitars at> wrote:
>>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>  -----------------------
>>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>  Poster:       LanDi Liu <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
>>>  Subject:      An army or a dozen
>>>  From The Wizard of Oz:
>>>  "The Lion declared he was afraid of nothing on earth, and would gladly
>>>  face
>>>  an army or a dozen of the fierce Kalidahs."*
>>>  In the above sentence, would you read this to be 'an army of the Kalidahs,
>>>  or a dozen of the Kalidahs', or 'an army of men, or a dozen of the fierce
>>>  Kalidahs."?
>>>  I think it's very unnatural to put the greater before the lesser in this
>>>  kind of a context.  But it may be that the Kalidahs were being thought of
>>>  here as being even more powerful than an army.  Does anyone here have (or
>>>  can think of) any examples of putting the greater before the lesser?  Or
>>>  does anyone think it is (or once was) normal to do this?
>>>  *Kalidahs are huge animals with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.
>>>  --
>>>  Randy Alexander
>>>  Jilin City, China
>>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>  The American Dialect Society -
>>Randy Alexander
>>Jilin City, China
>>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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