Revival: someone/somebody

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Nov 23 15:55:50 UTC 2000

In a message dated 10/29/2000 11:20:34 PM, joh.wood at ASU.EDU writes:

<< Quirk et al. (1985) and Jespersen

(1914) claim -body and -one compounds are identical in meaning although

Bolinger (1976) "argues that there is a subtle difference in meaning between

the series, ONE and its compounds being marked for closeness to the speaker

and individualization, whereas BODY is unmarked in these senses." >>

This makes sense to me, and here is a bit of evidence. There is an old song
with the key line

Somebody loves me--I wonder who?

The irony of the second part of the sentence is based upon the disambiguation
of SOMEBODY in approximately the sense that Bologna suggests, i.e., SOMEBODY
can either be a "real" person that the speaker has in mind ('close') or a
hypothetical person that the speaker has faith exists (not 'close'). The
other version of the line

?Someone loves me--I wonder who?

doesn't work, and the problem is not merely metrical: SOMEONE implies that
the speaker has in mind a real person, and the second half of the line
contradicts this, making the utterance not merely ironic but semantically

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