Friends of Semantic Compositions

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June 06, 2005



I say you done her wrong. It'd be like having one child, and answering "No" when someone asked, "Do you have any kids?"


If what you are saying is correct, it puts questioners in the awkward position of having to ask questions like: "Did you order for one or more balloons?", "Do you have a child or children?". Let us accept the fact that in such a situation the word balloons has a semantic of one or more instead of the usual one of two or more.
So the actual question was:
AxAy( (x = SC) & Order(x,y) & (y = balloon) & (Cardinality(y) >= 1) ).
p.s. "Congratulations."

eric morse

I hope Mr. Hair-splitter enjoys his trip down the Semantical Slippery Slope. Soon, betting on a sure thing will not be gambling. And eating only one of the paired Twix bars will not constitute eating a Twix.
In my experience, such clever interperetations of language are not appreciated. Nay, they are often punished.


Here's the tiebreaker...

"You aren't ordering balloons, are you?" is chick-speak for "Please don't order any balloons." If she had in mind an arrangement with five balloons, you are twenty percent guilty, plus zero to seventy percent to be awarded depending on how much she dislikes balloons and is aware that you know about it.

EFL Geek
I hope Mr. Hair-splitter enjoys his trip down the Semantical Slippery Slope
I concur.
Semantic Compositions


Readers will be happy to know that Mrs. SC walked in this afternoon and announced, "You got clobbered!", which made up for only seventy percent of the annoyance experienced. The remaining thirty percent has yet to be parceled out.

Mrs. SC further wishes everyone to know that her husband is precisely the sort of twit who would say, "No, I only have one child" in response to the question "Do you have children?". Typing that probably will not contribute very far to the aforementioned thirty percent.

I do, however, intend to adopt what will henceforth be known as the "Twix defense" in regard to future junk-food consumption. After all, it's safe to assume I'm guilty anyways.


If it helps, I unfortunately use the " aren't going to X, are you?" formula a lot, which never fails to start my fellow boiling like a coffee percolator packed full of fire ants. He always says, "If you don't want me to do it, just say so bluntly, dammit," and I always point out that bluntness was just what I was trying to avoid. Nice is the new nasty.

The Language Guy

No, you did not mislead. It is generally understood that celebratory ballons come in sets larger than 1. So, pragmatically speaking, you answered correctly. However, semantically there is a problem. "Did you see any funny looking people today?" would get a "Yes" even if your addressee only saw one. So, unless you wish to be known as a dishonest lout, you need to change your Blog title to "Pragmatic Composition" and declare your fealty to pragmatics, which you should do anyway.

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