Coach Paterno and the syntactic blind alley

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 10 18:11:33 UTC 2011

On Nov 10, 2011, at 12:47 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> The one that always troubled me is the negation of "used to"--if you
> ever want to say

or more exactly write (see below)

> that at all while preserving semantic clarity. I recall
> finding some usage guides postulating "didn't used to", which is just as
> satisfying as not having an answer.
>    VS-)

Oh right, I'd forgotten that one, which only is a problem in writing--"didn't useta" is as easy to say as "useta", but impossible to spell.  An orthographic gap!


> On 11/10/2011 10:03 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> ...
>> --doesn't mean it's not a problem in the non-sheepish (and non-fishy) contexts in which it *can't* be finessed, any more than the alternative of saying "the father of one of my friends" dispels the issue posed by "one of my friends' father/fathers"
>> Is there a standard term for these blind-alley/no-exit situations?  Have these been covered on Language Log?  (I don't know what to search under, but surely Arnold or Ben will remember if they've been discussed.)
>> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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