Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally


Posted by Neal on May 7, 2004

Mark Liberman’s recent posting on the different meanings of can depending on how wide a scope it takes reminds me of my first brush with a scope ambiguity (though at the time I didn’t know what it was called). It was back in my sophomore year in high school, in Linda Misenhimer’s 6th period biology class. We were having a multiple-choice exam on our genetics unit, and one of the questions went something like this:

John has type AB blood, and Marsha has type B. What blood-type child can they not have?
a. AB
b. B
c. A
d. O


One Response to “Uncanny”

  1. […] remembered the scope ambiguity I encountered in a biology test when I was about Doug’s age–another one involving can, but interacting with a negation instead of only. Anyway, the […]

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