"can do so much"

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 23 16:12:57 UTC 2009

I'm sure there's been discussion before of "I could care less,"
meaning the same as "I couldn't care less."  But I don't recognize
"can do so much" as the same sort of thing.


On Sat, May 23, 2009 at 8:34 AM, Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      "can do so much"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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?
> arnold
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