lexical query

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 3 18:26:38 UTC 2007

At 10:28 AM -0700 9/3/07, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>On Sep 3, 2007, at 7:42 AM, Ron Butters wrote:
>>Well, once again, why doesn't "luck" fit the bill? If I ask, "What
>>kind of
>>luck did you have at the slot machines last night?" am I not using
>>"luck" in a
>>way that allows for both 'blessing' and curse'?
>allows, but doesn't require.  some instances of luck are blessings
>(good luck), some are curses (bad luck), and a few might be both,
>though most are either one or the other.  so this is an example of a
>word referring to something that can be either a blessing OR a curse,
>not of a word referring to something that is at once both a blessing
>AND a curse.
>larry horn: can you explain why i keep getting suggestions using OR,
>when i asked about AND?
One possibility:

The free choice OR of "It can be a blessing or a curse" can be
paraphrased with the AND of "It can be a blessing and it can be a
curse", but that's weaker than (i.e. unilaterally entails) "It can be
[a blessing and a curse]".  If I tell my son "You can go to the beach
or (to) the movies", I have given him permission to do either, but
not (necessarily) to do both.  (Of course there's also the true
disjunctive "or" that can't be paraphrased by "and":  "You can go to
the beach or (to) the movies--I forget which".  But that's not
relevant here.)  "X allows for a blessing and [it allows for] a
curse" =/= "X allows for [a blessing and a curse]".  And then again
"X allows for [a blessing and a curse] =/= "X entails [a blessing and
a curse]".  It does get a bit messy.


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