"can do so much"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sat May 23 12:34:25 UTC 2009

Zalmay Khalizad (who has served as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq,
Afghanistan, and the UN), speaking on the radio program It's Your
World (a program of the World Affairs Council of Northern California),
said "The military can do so much", clearly meaning, in the context,
'the military can do only so much' (i.e., not everything, or not a
lot, while "the military can do so much" otherwise conveys 'the
military can do a lot').

i haven't found other examples that work this way, but it's not easy
to search for them. it's entirely possible that Khalizad's sentence
was a simple speech error, an inadvertent omission of "only", and it
might be relevant that English is not Khalizad's native language
(Persian is).

anyone recall other examples of this sort?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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