usually always

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Wed May 23 03:36:05 UTC 2007

>I didn't have "usually almost always" in mind.  Rather: "usually" (e.g., =
>"I usually park there") + "almost always" (e.g., "I almost always park =
>there") blend to "usually always" (e.g., "I usually always park there").

Yes, I understood that. It seemd to me that if it were a blend, there
might be some telling instances of the unblended version.

My sense of it, from the assorted occasions on which I've heard it
used, is that it's not "usually almost always" with the "almost"
removed. The same users often use "always" in isolation to mean "as a
rule" in non-absolute cases, and when they want to emphasize that
there are exceptions, they add the "usually." But I'm trying to think
of the best way to test, or sort out, which hypothesis is correct.
Certainly other terms that are supposedly absolute are used in less
absolute ways; "unique" is a well-known example ("very unique", "most
unique" and "more unique" being very common).

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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