Made in China

Ronald Butters ronbutters at AOL.COM
Tue Dec 28 00:59:49 UTC 2010

Well, I disagree that the absurd reading is the "primary" one. The word "with" is the most basic instrumental preposition in English, and the addition of the word "only" reenforces the instrumental reading. Besides, given two possible readings, the pragmatically primary one is the one that makes sense.

"I broke the window with my little brother."

Here, despite the fact that "with" generally conveys instrumentality, one would not normally think this means that I threw my little brother through the window (unless the context tells us differently, e.g.,  that little brother is a stiff). On the other hand:

"I broke the window with my little axe"

will invariably be interpreted as instrumental, not a co-agent (unless context tells us that we live in a fairy-tale world).

On Dec 27, 2010, at 7:39 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> From packaging:
> "Easy to Install: Replaces most locks with only a screwdriver
> "Fácil de instalar: Reemplaza la mayoría de las carraduras con tan sólo
> un destornillador"
> Usually, I replace locks with other locks or, in a pinch, with a piece
> of gum (just kidding, on the latter). But I've never replaced a lock
> with a screwdriver!
> Seriously, there is a perfectly plausible reading of this (which, I am
> sure, Ron would have pointed out if I did not). But it's not even the
> primary reading--and, I suspect, this would hold for most people. I am
> sure, there is a name for this, but it escapes me at the moment.
>    VS-)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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