lexical query

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sun Sep 2 17:49:23 UTC 2007

On Sep 2, 2007, at 9:30 AM, Stephen Goranson wrote:

> Quoting "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>:
>> an old friend came to me yesterday with a language question
>> (apparently, it was Ask-A-Linguist Day at the Palo Alto Farmers'
>> Market): is there a language with a word referring to something that
>> is both a blessing and a curse?
>> (obviously, "blessing" and "curse" will require some cultural
>> translation.)
>> everybody seems to think that yiddish must be such a language, but no
>> one has yet come up with a relevant lexical item.
>> any nominations from the floor?
> In Hebrew the Birkat ha-Minim is nominally a blessing, but in effect a
> curse on
> heretics.
> In English "blessing out" someone can mean cursing.

ah, i should have been clearer: what my friend lauren is looking for
is not a word referring to a *speech act* that serves as both
blessing and curse, but a word referring to a situation or event that
is both advantageous (a blessing) and disadvantageous (a curse).  the
english idiom "mixed blessing" comes close, but doesn't convey a more
or less even balance between good points and bad points.


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