What on Earth??

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 11 20:08:50 UTC 2011

On Oct 11, 2011, at 2:31 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> I couldn't make out the meaning of this sentence when I saw it in Google
> News:
>> Sixty percent of Americans do, surveys show, and 20 percent think
>> aliens live among us disguised as humans.

I'd have processed this as one of those mystery ellipses, from the family of the classic commercial poser,

"Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure".

I see now that that question was really about whether or not she thinks there's life on other planets.


P.S.  I see the other classic first date query from the 50's, "Will she or won't she?", has now been repurposed--or had been until recently--to apply specifically to the burning question of whether Sarah Palin would announce as a candidate.

> When going to the page [ http://goo.gl/r44RG ], I realized that there
> was another sentence that did not show up in the abstract:
>> Think there’s life on other planets?
> So the other sentence was answering the question... It still looks odd
> to me, even though now I know what it is saying.
> VS-)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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