[Ads-l] "all of our goal in life"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jun 5 12:44:34 UTC 2016

On TV news this morning, I caught this excerpt from Bill Clinton's eulogy for Muhammad Ali yesterday:

"So by the time he died, who he was as a person was greater than his legend, which should be all of our goal in life."
cf. http://www.inquisitr.com/3169223/barack-obama-muhammad-ali-shook-up-the-world/ 

This is one of those paint-oneself-into-a-corner constructions.  This version doesn't sound right to me, but "all of our goals" in life is worse in this case.  The meaning is clear:  "a/the goal of all of us".  But that version with a prepositional phrase sounds stilted.  I believe Arnold has discussed similar no-win situations in morphosyntax, possibly including the classic "one of my friends' father(s)" (for "the father of one of my friends").


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

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