Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Where Else and What Else?

Posted by Neal on September 20, 2005

The teaser for the 11:00 news last night talked about a suspect arrested in a local homicide case. It said:

We’ve got information on where else and what else he’s wanted for.

What else he’s wanted for, fine. Where else he’s wanted for, no. Looking past the non-parallel surface structure, what they must mean is, “Where else he’s wanted, and what else he’s wanted for.”

In more general terms, the coordination goes

[A and B] C D,

but actually means,

[A C] and [B C D],

instead of the strictly parallel

[A C D] and [B C D].

In this case, A = where else, B = what else, C = he’s wanted, and D = for. I’ll add this one to the list.

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