"all but" = all of; a mere"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Mar 7 01:05:19 UTC 2008

At 6:53 PM -0500 3/6/08, James Harbeck wrote:
>>  >> ... 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.
And as I said, I also got the meaning of 'only' (or 'surprisingly, no
more than') for 'all but three days' in the given context.  I was
just arguing that "all but" in other contexts, where it can be
paraphrased by "almost", is quite different.


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