first ever!

Seán Fitzpatrick grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET
Mon Jul 20 07:35:31 UTC 2009

The pall of ambiguity through which the intent is discerned was cast by the
headline writer's omitting a specifier, "the" or "its".  Adding the
appropriate specifier to your steps-on-the-moon example--as headline writers
expect us to do--clears the ambiguity.  However, the example is
inappropriate because one might through inadvertence or confusion assert
that Aldrin was the first on the moon and hence one can't dismiss "Aldrin
took THE first ever steps on the moon" possibility so easily as "Edmonton
lab gets THE first ever Japanese microscope".

Seán Fitzpatrick
For when Global Warming just isn't silly enough anymore.
I think, we can agree on one thing--you describe the *intent* of the

Now, compare two statements:

    Neil Armstrong took first ever steps on the moon.
    Buzz Aldrin took first ever steps on the moon.

Following your deconstruction, both of these statements are not only
equally permissible, but both would be universally understood to be
accurate. Nonetheless, I suspect, most people would see one statement as
accurate (except those who believe that moon landing has been an
elaborate hoax) and the other as nonsense.

The American Dialect Society -

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