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Re: And/or

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 01, 2003

In Reply to: Re: And/or posted by R.Berg on December 01, 2003

: : : : : : Just now I was reading the liner notes to the Chet Baker CD called simply "Chet". It says: "Although this album is entirely devoted to explorations of the ballad mood, it includes considerable variety. Approach, instrumentation, even tempo does not remain constant here." I'm interested in the second sentence; the first is included merely for the sake of providing context. It sounds all right, so it may not strike you as odd; indeed, I believe it is grammatically in order. However, consider this sentence, which, as it were, lurks in the background: "Approach, instrumentation, AND tempo DO not remain constant here." That is, I've taken out "even" and inserted "and." Now, clearly "does" becomes "do." So, why is "does" correct in the original sentence (and "do" wrong)? I suppose because of "even," which is associated with "tempo." Try to replace "does" with "do" in the original sentence - clearly, this is wrong! We are told that tempo does not remain constant, but there seems to be a verb lacking for "approach" and "instrumentation." That is, when speaking in terms of concord, indeed, the verb is lacking; but, in terms of meaning, the two nouns "borrow" from "does." This is why the "and . . . do" sentence lurks in the background. I don't know what grammarians call this structure. Your comments will be much appreciated. Thanks.
: : : : : : Anders

: : : : : There's an omission in the original phrase. We don't know if the writer is referring to each of the items or all of them. It could be amended in a number of ways. It might have been written;
: : : : : Approach, instrumentation, even tempo; each does not remain constant here.
: : : : : or;
: : : : : Approach, instrumentation, even tempo; all do not remain constant here.
: : : : : It could be rewritten as you suggest;
: : : : : Approach, instrumentation and even tempo do not remain constant here.
: : : : : The use of 'do' in the original doesn't sound obviously wrong to my ears;
: : : : : Approach, instrumentation, even tempo do not remain constant here.

: : : : Anders, how do you know that the word to insert in the original sentence is "and," not "or"? "Or" fits the meaning in a subtly better way than "and," considering that the word "even" is there. The three elements (tempo...) are being considered one at a time.

: : : Well, I don't. But I'm surprised by your question. Frankly, I can't make any sense of an "or" in that place. Oh, I see what you mean! But you know, I left out "even" entirely and inserted "and" in its place: "Approach, instrumentation, AND tempo DO not remain constant here." You say: "The three elements (tempo...) are being considered one at a time." Okay, considering one element at a time explains the "does," and thereby the two first elements are also furnished with a verb. That would explain it. Can you think of any other examples along this line?
: : : Thanks
: : : Anders

: : As a PS to my post above, let me add why I can't make any sense of an "or":
: : "Approach, instrumentation, AND tempo DO not remain constant" is true if and only if they're all three inconstant.
: : "Approach, instrumentation, OR tempo DOES not remain constant" is true if one, or more, of the three elements is inconstant.
: : In the liner notes to the Chet Baker CD, the meaning is clearly that they're all three inconstant. Hence the "and."
: : Anders

: The way the original sentence is written owes something to a rhetorical device rather than being strictly logical. Its wording emphasizes the point that nothing remains constant. Mentally inserting "or" goes with the negativity of the verb, "does not remain." You could also say "Not approach, not instrumentation, not even tempo remains constant."

: Not a pig, not a cow, not a horse knows how to read.

: A pig, a cow, a horse does not know how to read.

: Personally, before I tried to deduce what the liner notes were trying to say I would want to know what is meant by "Approach" and whether it can change other than piece by piece. It seems likely that the instrumentation might change from one musical number to the next, and the same for the tempo. But if this is the meaning, who care? Of course the musician tries to avoid playing the same piece over and over. And why are you guys doing your grammar lesson by trying to decode the English of a record label? DO we have some evidence that the people who write them are actually literate? SS