Anybody else?

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Nov 7 20:43:04 UTC 2005

On Nov 4, 2005, at 5:20 PM, Larry Horn wrote:

> At 1:19 PM -0800 11/4/05, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>> yes, i collect examples of "determination by the nearest" (usually
>> treated in the handbooks as instances of "failures of parallelism"),
>> and have posted about the phenomenon here and on Language Log.  my
>> assessment is that for a fair number of people, this has simply
>> become the way government of verb form works with conjoined
>> auxiliaries -- much as "as Adj or Adj-er than" is "is probably simply
>> a long-lived English idiom" (MWDEU on "as good or better than").
> another one is the upper-bound-suspending locution "X is one of the
> A-est if not THE A-est", for a random synthetic superlative adjective
> A, which is then standardly followed by the singular on the
> determination-by-the-nearest principle. Thus for example: "He's one
> of the nicest if not THE nicest guy/*guys you'd ever want to meet"
> and so on.  St. Paul, for example, is googlably described as "one of
> the first if not the first convert".  I've always thought the only
> sort of example that really works here (for occasional purists like
> me) is
> "That's one of the nicest if not THE nicest sheep you'd ever want
> to meet".

yes, this is another one.  and discussed in MWDEU, under "one of
the... if not the...", where it's related to the equative/comparative


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