Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Is there a linguist out there?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is there a linguist out there?

    Hi,

    There is an English phrase I have been wondering about for years! It seems to mean two completely opposite things depending on the situation. The phrase is: "all but".

    If you say: "My car is all but paid for", it means that it has been paid for in full. However, if you say: "I bought all but five apples", it means that I left five apples in the basket and bought the rest of them.

    Is there anything I've missed in my interpretation? If not, is this one of the many inconsistencies of the English language? Can anyone explain the roots of the expression?

    I am Swedish by birth and Swedish is my first language (if that information can be of any help to you).

    Appreciate any comments.

  • #2
    Hi,

    There is an English phrase I have been wondering about for years! It seems to mean two completely opposite things depending on the situation. The phrase is: "all but".

    If you say: "My car is all but paid for", it means that it has been paid for in full. However, if you say: "I bought all but five apples", it means that I left five apples in the basket and bought the rest of them.

    Is there anything I've missed in my interpretation? If not, is this one of the many inconsistencies of the English language? Can anyone explain the roots of the expression?

    I am Swedish by birth and Swedish is my first language (if that information can be of any help to you).

    Appreciate any comments.

    Comment


    • #3
      In the United States, "all but" paid for means, almost paid for.

      Comment


      • #4
        I checked it from dictionary and it says all but equal to everything else but.

        So if I say all but five apples it means that I forgot the five apples but other items I remebered.

        All but paid means that it is not att all paid.

        I'm not Swedish but it is my third or fouth language and I think it could be translated all but paid = helt annat än betalt

        Comment


        • #5
          "All but paid for" means that it is almost paid for, all except perhaps one remaining payment. When understood this way it has the same meaning as in the apple example, "all but" 5 of the whole bushel.
          Perhaps common U.S. usage of the term has corrupted its meaning - leading to the confusion we see here, but the phrase properly means "most, but not all", "effectively", "for all intents and purposes" but not exactly.

          Comment


          • #6
            The dictionary is twenty years old. Maybe I have to buy a new one.

            So in Swedish it is then nästan betalt

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the responses. It came up this morning on TV. A narrator said that "The bull is all but paid for", but meant "The bull is paid for in full". I have heard the expression being used that way before, and that was what triggered me.

              I tend to agree, it must really mean "almost paid for" (or whatever the context might be).

              Comment


              • #8
                It was very interesting to read written above.
                May be I am old-fashioned, but still don't know what means LOL here in forum.

                Comment


                • #9
                  quote:
                  Originally posted by vapaa:
                  It was very interesting to read written above.
                  May be I am old-fashioned, but still don't know what means LOL here in forum.

                  LOL = Laughing Out Loud

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    quote:
                    Originally posted by NudePete:
                    ...Perhaps common U.S. usage of the term has corrupted its meaning - leading to the confusion we see here, but the phrase properly means "most, but not all", "effectively", "for all intents and purposes" but not exactly.


                    I think that's what it means in US common usage, too. At least, it's what I understand the phrase to mean, although I also don't hear it used very often except by native Southerners. It seems that in most other regions, "almost" is used.

                    Just my 2¢,
                    Vin

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      "all but"

                      http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_b...sages/271.html

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, the narrator was British, so not everything applies to American English

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          TV guy was in error if he was trying to say the bull transaction was completed.

                          All but paid for means every aspect of the transaction is completed except the final payment.

                          Another example, "he is a PHD all but for his dissertation, or all but his orals."

                          Or put another way, "she is all but a PHD"...which implies there is just a tad left for her to do.

                          Not a linguist, but cunning none the less.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Now that this is cleared up, Bengt, you're probably ready for some more... such as:

                            Why are "wise man" and "wise guy" opposites?

                            Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?

                            There is a whole list of these "English language idioms" and they might even be found on this very forum, IIRC!

                            Have fun.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              LOL! Yeah, English is a funny language in many respects. I guess that's what makes it interesting. Dutch is also interesting, for pretty much the same reasons.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X