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November 05, 2010

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Thank you, Michael, Amy, and Nancy, for letting this wonderful
Quantifier-Crossing sentence out into the firmament:

Fifteen million men run a small business completely alone.

and thus also its nonsolitary root sentence:

Fifteen million men run a small business.

The "completely alone" part adds to the contradiction and forces the reading that's intended -- (∀ man) (∃ business), pronounced "for every man [of 15 million] there is [at least] one [distinct] business", but this sentence, like all clauses containing both a universal and an existential quantifier, is still technically syntactically ambiguous, as the silly interpretation of the second sentence shows.

The silly (∃ business) (∀ man) quantifier order, pronounced "there is [at least] one [distinct] business, for all 15 million men" implies that the business is run by 15 million men ("completely alone", in the original, which rises above "silly" to "mythical"). It'd have to be a really damn BIG kind of small business, but what the hell, that's neither syntax nor semantics.

Dear John M. Lawler: I believe yours is the most erudite comment I've ever received. Thank you!

I am agog. Or: I man agog.

Always love it when I'm doing random word searches ("mantyhose" this time) and your blog pops up. Hadn't seen mansplain yet either. Hope you are well.
and
Go Giants!

Cheers,
Juli

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