Coach Paterno and the syntactic blind alley

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 10 17:47:18 UTC 2011

The one that always troubled me is the negation of "used to"--if you
ever want to say that at all while preserving semantic clarity. I recall
finding some usage guides postulating "didn't used to", which is just as
satisfying as not having an answer.


On 11/10/2011 10:03 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> ...
> --doesn't mean it's not a problem in the non-sheepish (and non-fishy) contexts in which it *can't* be finessed, any more than the alternative of saying "the father of one of my friends" dispels the issue posed by "one of my friends' father/fathers"
> Is there a standard term for these blind-alley/no-exit situations?  Have these been covered on Language Log?  (I don't know what to search under, but surely Arnold or Ben will remember if they've been discussed.)
> LH

The American Dialect Society -

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