how to say this?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Aug 7 18:02:27 UTC 2009

At 8:59 AM -0700 8/7/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>from a questionnaire at a local restaurant:
>   Including you, how many people are you dining with today?
>the question is decidedly odd.  the expected answer in my case was 1
>(i was dining alone), so i appeared to be saying that i was dining
>with one person, or equivalently, that i was dining with myself.
>but all answers are peculiar.  if i'm having dinner with a friend, one
>friend, then i'm supposed to say that i'm dining with 2 people.
>something like the following might work, without giving rise to
>numerical anomalies:
>   How many people are in your party at this meal?
Interesting.  It's a bit like the difference between
"Including you, how many siblings do you have?"  [unanswerable]
"Including you, how many children did your parents have?" [fine]
or "Including you, how many children are there in your family?" [OK
in the right context]


The American Dialect Society -

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