Mystery of living shorter

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu May 3 13:43:17 UTC 2007

At 8:10 AM -0500 5/3/07, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>In the same vein, how would generative grammar generate "live long"
>but exclude "live short" as a standard feature of the language?
>Gerald Cohen

We do have both "a long life" and "a short life".  The absence of
"live short" alongside "live long", as either verb phrase or
adjective ("all the live-long/live-short day"), is not something that
generative grammar would find either problematic or for the most part
particularly interesting.  All theories would stipulate, without
explaining, the existence of paradigmatic, lexical, and (as in this
case) collocational gaps, although in some cases there may be some
explanatory mechanisms from pragmatics, historical, or other
non-synchronic-grammatical sources.  I'm not sure why this would be a
particular problem (or a particular advantage) for generative


>From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Jonathan Lighter
>Sent: Thu 5/3/2007 7:04 AM
>Subject: Mystery of living shorter
>>>From today's Yahoo News :
>"Dillin said it usually takes a 50 to 70 percent reduction in normal
>food intake to yield longer lifespan in animals.
>  "'If you reduce food too much, you're going to go toward starvation
>and actually live shorter,' Dillin said."
>Logic sez that "live shorter" should be just as idiomatically normal
>as "live longer," but I could never use it in a serious context. It
>would have to be, "actually live less long," "actually not live as
>long," or "live for a shorter time."
>If some things can live long, why can't other things live short ?
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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