'mixed blessing'

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 3 19:31:31 UTC 2007

I'm beginning to feel like the stupid kid in the Intro to Linguistics class.

In a message dated 9/3/07 3:02:15 PM, zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU writes:

> On Sep 3, 2007, at 11:01 AM, Ron Butters wrote:
> > I onder if the problem with people misunderstanding the question
> > isn't that
> > the likelihood of an answer isn't nil. What word is there in
> > English that
> > simultaneously means X and Y?
> thousands, at least.  as a first approximation (at least) "boy" means
> both 'child' and 'male', "lesbian" means both 'homosexual' and
> 'female', etc.  but that's not the sort of answer my friend was
> looking for.

And obviously that is not what I meant, either: 'child' and 'male' are not 
mutually exclusive (nor are 'child who has lost a parent' and 'child who has 
lost at least one parent'--see below). I realize now (I think) that what Arnold 
is asking for is a word that means two potentially contradictory things at the 
same time ('blessing' and 'curse'). So KARMA is no better than LUCK, right? 
(See below)

> i don't think the question is at all weird.  linguists are often
> asked if there's any language that has "a word for X", where X is a
> characterization of some concept.  does any language have a word for
> a child who has lost one (but not both) parents -- that is, for
> someone who simultaneously is  a child and has lost one parent and
> has not lost both (note conjunctive characterization)?  yes, there
> is, as we noted here some time ago; there are even dialects of
> english with "half-orphan" for this concept.
I didn't mean that is was weird to ask a question of this general sort, only 
that this particular question seemed weird because it didn't seem possible 
that it could have an answer.

> in previous postings, i gave an example of a situation that would be
> an instance of both-blessing-and-curse, and from this it should be
> easy for you to think of others (alison murie has now supplied
> another example).  the question is whether there is (in any language)
> a general term covering all such situations (and only those).
> > At any rate, an example of a word
> > that DOES fit the bill would be very helpful here.
> it's not hard to think of words that refer to specific events or
> occasions or phenomena that are both blessings and curses. (stephen
> goranson has just added "karma" to the list.)  again, the question is
> whether there's a general term covering all of these, and if i had
> the answer to *that* question i wouldn't have posted to the list in
> the first place.
> arnold
What I was hoping for was an analogy (e.g.--hypothetically--"FTHAT" is 'a 
person who is fat in some ways and not fat in other ways'), not just a 
restatement of the question and some answers that are "wrong."

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