"own it for a limited time"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 28 15:54:09 UTC 2006

At 9:25 AM -0500 2/28/06, Baker, John wrote:
>         Google comes to the rescue:  Ben may have misheard this one, but
>it is found in a few places on the Web, mostly but not entirely for
>         DVD:  "House on Haunted Hill will not be available in stores
>until later this year. But you can own it for a limited time only
>exclusively through Legend Films."  http://www.legendfilms.net/hohh.html
>         DVD:  "Carnival of Souls IN COLOR will not be available in
>stores until next year.  But you can own it for a limited time only
>exclusively through Off Color Films."
>         Custom wheel:  "The Double G 210 is a substitute for the
>discontinued giovanna mito rim. It has a sport look as well as a lot of
>flash. This wheel was a huge success as the giovanna mito, now you can
>own it for a limited time as the double g 210."
>         More intuitive uses are also found.  For example:
>         "So, in reality, I don't own a copy of Me, I'm using Compaq's
>copy until my computer dies?  Originally, I was under the impression
>that all the software was included in the purchase price I paid for the
>computer to begin with. . . . [I]t just seems that if you own something
>you should own it, and be able to do what you want to with it - not own
>it for a limited time or just own a non-existant thing that truly
>vanishes when part of it becomes unusable."
I think these are different.  The first three all make explicit what
I was claiming is implicit in the would-be "Own it for a limited
time" (non-)example we began with, viz. the "you can".  The point is
that the "for a limited time" in those cases specifies the finiteness
of the interval over which this potential exists--after that time,
you can't buy/own it.  See the various google hits for "You can buy
it for a limited time", or "Buy it for a limited time at just $___",
where again the finiteness goes with the availability of the offer,
not the length of time you will then possess it.

The last example above, though, does involve the ownership being
itself for a finite period, and indeed that's what's being objected


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