Made in China

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 28 01:32:22 UTC 2010

There are enough differences between "broke" and "replaced" to consider
this a suggestive, but not most apt example. Furthermore, the presence
of "only" is what really complicates matters.

As for "broke": I broke the window with my little ass. Is this
instrumental or co-agentive? In fact, the question still stands if we
replace "ass" with a "donkey" (a common substitution, especially at
faculty meetings).


On 12/27/2010 7:59 PM, Ronald Butters wrote:
> 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"
>> ...

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list