kitchen table math, the sequel: No WUG is too DAX to be ZONGED

Saturday, June 11, 2011

No WUG is too DAX to be ZONGED

Another fabulous grammar puzzle from Language Log:
No WUG is too DAX to be ZONGED.
Does this sentence say that a WUG should be ZONGED?

Or that a WUG should not be ZONGED?

And why haven't I been reading Language Log for lo these many years?

6 in 10 people get this one right.


GoogleMaster said...

I read it like this:
- There may, or may not, exist some WUGs.
- The WUGs may, or may not, be DAX.
- Even if a WUG is DAX, that doesn't prevent it from being ZONGED.
- If nothing else prevents a WUG from being ZONGED, then the WUG can be ZONGED, because its DAXness doesn't have any effect on its ZONGability.

I don't read any "should" in it at all, just "can".

Substitute with some real words, like:
=> All TENNIS PLAYERs can be DEFEATED (assuming GOODness is the only thing determining DEFEATability).

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I'm with Googlemaster on this one—the sentence only talks about possibility, not what should happen.

It does imply that some people think that DAXness implies unZONGability, and is explicitly deny that assumption.

Jen said...

Yes, could not should.

It could.