how to say this?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 8 16:21:14 UTC 2009

Yes, I am playing. But as always, my "humor" contains great dollops of
profound and salient truth.

Deep in my soul I do believe that whoever framed the cited question avoided
the word "party" from a perceived dissonance between "party" in the more
usual sense and the concept of "party of one" and maybe even "...of two,"
irrespective of established usage.

The youthful hosts/hostesses I interact with often ask, "And how many at
your table this evening?" or "How many will be dining with you/us this
evening?" Etc. They also call for "Table for one/ two/ five," more often (I
tend to believe) than "Party of...." That's not say that "party" is on the
way out, but it might be interesting to look into this possible dissonance
as a contributor to incipient usage change.  If I could afford to eat out
more, I might have a better sense of what's what.


On Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 11:51 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: how to say this?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Aug 7, 2009, at 10:04 AM, Jon Lighter wrote (responding to me on
> the question "how many people are you dining with today"; if you're
> dining alone, the expected answer is 1, so i suggested that a
> formulation that asked ):
> > Any server can tell you you can't have a party with just one person,
> > dude.
> >
> > It makes no sense.
> i assume this is just playing with different senses of "party".
> because "party of 1" has an established use in restaurant talk (you
> leave your name and the number of people in your party, and the host
> then calls you to a table: "Opal, party of 3; Adams, party of 1").
> arnold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list