Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Jan 7 10:03:45 UTC 2009

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Elizabeth Zwicky
> Date: January 5, 2009 6:38:17 PM PST
> To: Arnold Zwicky
> Subject: Of linguistic interest
> From Margaret Mahy's Raging Robots and Unruly Uncles:
> "Well, we're both being pursued by Fiends Incarnate,"
> said Jasper, "both of us by a different one."

the most common complaint about "both" is about
"pleonastic"/"redundant" occurrences, in things like "They both
agreed" and "They are both alike".  see MWDEU on "both", section 1.

this is a bit different: the second "both" has distributive semantics,
like "each".  googling on {"both of us * different"} pulls up a fair
number of cases, a lot like "Both of us are different" (much like
"Both of us agreed", but with the wrinkle that there's an alternative
with "each" + singular verb -- "Each of us is different" -- as well as
an alternative with "the two" + plural verb -- "The two of us are
different" -- which is one alternative that is sometimes recommended,
and the alternative "We are different", also sometimes recommended,
even though it no longer explicit about *two* people being compared).

(MWDEU on "pleonastic" "both": "after two centuries and more of
comment, this molehill is still a molehill.  It is a trivial matter
and not worth worrying about.")


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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