[Ads-l] "... there's just one of them"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jul 25 14:51:48 EDT 2018


I’m wondering whether this has ever been discussed. I think Chris’s point is a good one, brought out by the following minimal pair:

I’m having a hard time coping after my beloved dog Fido died.  My friends are telling me to get another dog but I could never replace Fido--there’s only one of {him/her/*it}.
I’m having a hard time coping after my beloved car Chad died.  My insurance company says I can get another car but I could never replace Chad; there’s only one of {them/*it}.

(The latter inspired by some insurance company’s commercial about a young woman whose late car was indeed named Chad.)

LH

> On Jul 25, 2018, at 1:26 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:, 
> 
>> would "... there's just one of it." have been better?
> 
> IMO, yes, since there is just one of it.
> 
> "The earth has several moons, but there's just one of them visible to the
> naked eye."
> 
> On Wed, Jul 25, 2018 at 3:05 AM Chris Waigl <chris at lascribe.net> wrote:
> 
>> I was just listening to the latest CBC radio broadcast of "Quirks and
>> Quarks" (as a podcast, but no matter). Here's how the host introduced a new
>> topic:
>> 
>> "You've probably noticed that our planet has exactly one moon. And it's a
>> pretty good one, as moons go, but still, there's just one of them."
>> 
>> At this point I had a weird 200 milliseconds of wondering if the "them" is
>> the gender-neutral singular they (referring to the Moon??), which it
>> obviously isn't. But it nontheless came across as ever so slightly weird.
>> OTOH, would "... there's just one of it." have been better?
>> 
>> For people, I do hear stuff like "[She's awesome, but we need to make sure
>> not to overload her with work:] There's just one of her."
>> 
>> Idly speculating,
>> 
>> Chris
>> 
>> --
>> Chris Waigl . chris.waigl at gmail.com . chris at lascribe.net
>> http://eggcorns.lascribe.net . http://chryss.eu
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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