disclaimer inclusiveness

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 17 02:03:15 UTC 2011

TV commercials for Lipitor include disclaimers that read,

"Lipitor is not for everyone, including people with liver problems," etc.

I find the structure fascinating. The "including" clause derives from
"not for everyone", not from "everyone"--that is, the included people
are the ones for whom Lipitor is not advised (i.e., those for whom it is
NOT include people with liver problems). I am not convinced this is the
plain reading of that sentence. Dare I raise the specter of "ambiguity"?
(without getting AZ to slap me down...)

But the whole structure seems to be mal-formed. Even if we take "not for
everyone" to be a category, the following inclusion would still apply to
that category--which describes those whore are NOT exempted from the
group. But the disclaimer is meant to apply specifically to those who
are EXCLUDED, not those who are INCLUDED, making the choice of words
difficult to swallow.

But substitution does not solve the problem either:

"Lipitor is not for everyone, excluding people with liver problems," etc.

On the other hand, I must admit that it does sound better with the
entire list rather than just with "people with liver problems". What's a
copy-writer to do?


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

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