rectangle vs. square

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 28 01:38:29 UTC 2010

At 6:32 PM -0400 6/27/10, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
>I disagree with Larry Horn's example. I remember the phrase as, "It's
>not *just* a car, it's a Volkswagen." Doesn't help.

see, inter alia,
     (including the version "No es un coche... Es un Volkswagen")

Googling "It's not a car it's a Volkswagen" brings in well over a
hundred additional hits of a similar kind.  The "promotional embossed
plate" in the first of these hits should be pretty conclusive.


>On 6/27/2010 2:55 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Garson O'Toole<adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
>>Subject:      Re: rectangle vs. square
>>Mark Mandel wrote
>>>One disagreement with Garson: example (3) is not relevant. "Square with"
>>>refers to relative orientation, not to shape: '(of the room in question)
>>>having the sides parallel with the sides of (the sepulchral chamber'.
>>Yes, example 3 is flawed. Thank you for pointing that out.
>>(3 new version) Flats, or Flat Bars. - Rolled bars of iron or steel of
>>rectangular but not square sections.
>>Also, I should have noted Larry Horn's example (one of several):
>>>"It's not sufficient to call that a ___, you can more
>>>perspicuously call it a ____"  (as in the old
>>>Volkswagen commercial's claim "It's not a car,
>>>it's a VW").
>>Following this pattern a speaker who believed squares were instances
>>of rectangles might still say:
>>It's not a rectangle, it's a square.
>>>On Sun, Jun 27, 2010 at 1:27 AM, Garson O'Toole
>>><adsgarsonotoole at>wrote:
>>>>I certainly agree that the issue is complex and context is important.
>>>>Consider the following example in the domain of architecture. The
>>>>writer assumes that the set of rectangular objects includes squares.
>>>>Therefore he or she must explicitly rule out the inclusion of squares.
>>>>[1] ... what Pliny tells us is that the building was rectangular (but
>>>>not square), that it was surrounded by a colonnade of thirty-six
>>>>columns, ...
>>>>The parenthetical remark "(but not square)" would be redundant if the
>>>>speaker thought that the set of rectangles already excluded squares.
>>>>Here are another two examples:
>>>>[2] Lumber is used that has rectangular, but not square, cross
>>>>section, and is always oriented so that the longer dimension is
>>>>parallel to the load (ie, usually is vertical).
>>>>[3] This room was rectangular, but not square with the sepulchral
>>>>chamber, as it lay 25=C2=B0 east of north ; =E2=80=A6
>>>The American Dialect Society -
>>The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

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