"all but" = all of; a mere"

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Mar 6 22:27:34 UTC 2008

On Mar 6, 2008, at 2:13 PM, i wrote, in far too much haste:

> On Mar 6, 2008, at 9:32 AM, dInIs wrote:
>> Odd that arnold finds this reading of "all but there" days to suggest
>> that it was less than expected. For me, the expectation is just the
>> opposite; not only that it was three full days but that it should
>> have taken less. What are we missing here?
>>> -----------------------
>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>>> Subject:      Re: "all but" = all of; a mere"
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> ... Jon's first gloss 'all of' is a construction of interest in
>>> itself.
>>> as i see things, "It took me all of three days" has a literal
>>> reading
>>> 'it took me three days, all of them; it took me an entire three-day
>>> period'.  but in the right context, *all* of these entirety-denoting
>>> expressions can implicate that a longer period might reasonably have
>>> been expected, so that three days was notably less than expected --
>>> i.e., 'only/just/a mere/but three days'.
> i [was] reporting on my judgments of meanings, not offering a
> description
> that would explain why the expressions have the mean[ing]s (i think)
> they do.

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