"all but" = all of; a mere"

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Mar 6 23:53:48 UTC 2008

>  >> ... 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 reporting on my judgments of meanings, not offering a description
>that would explain why the expressions have the means (i think) they do.
>apparently, no one else interprets these things as  i do.  so i
>suppose i am simply mistaken, and my judgments should be dismissed.

No, for what it's worth, I see it the same way... I've heard that
style of usage before.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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