From: Julian Bradfield (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Mar 22 2009 - 04:36:55 CST
On 2009-03-22, Philippe Verdy <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> In fact, if I read the definition of the term "quite" in English, it has TWO
> meanings, one of which is strenghtening the meaning (something I was not
> aware despite it is apparently the most common sense unerstood by some of
> you here), the other is the complete opposite (and really to want I wanted
> to say) and is not so much uncommon.
Indeed. To make it even more confusing, there are considerable
differences across the Atlantic in the distribution of the two
meanings. There are many examples such that in English the moderating
sense would be understood, but in American the strengthening sense
would be understood.
In general, your original form "quite a stupid question" would be
understood in English as moderating (as with "a lion is quite a big
animal"), but it doesn't really work even in English, for reasons I
don't quite understand - there are complex semantic and lexical
interactions, with the result that "quite a stupid question" seems to
me just unidiomatic. Basically, "stupid" is an inherently 'strong'
word, so moderating it is somehow incongruent.
"a quite stupid question", on the other hand, is unambiguously
You can use "rather" instead, which I think is moderating on both
sides of the Atlantic.
Perhaps we need some fancy Unicode punctuation marks?
-- The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Mar 22 2009 - 04:41:18 CST