how to say this?

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Aug 9 14:17:02 UTC 2009

On Aug 8, 2009, at 9:21 AM, Jon Lighter wrote:
> 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.

this strikes me as very far-fetched, given the grossly different
semantics; the "party" of "give a party" is an event noun, but the
"party" of "party of one", etc. is a collective noun.

> 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,

note that i offered the formulation with "party" as *a* (semantically
coherent) way of framing the question, not as *the* way.

> but it might be interesting to look into this possible dissonance
> as a contributor to incipient usage change.

you seem to be claiming that "how many are in your party today?" and
the like are ambiguous.  i don't see it, even out of context; the
preposition "in" pretty much excludes the event reading of "party".
and in context there's no possible effective ambiguity.


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