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In previous posts on this subject I may have given the impression that the way people speak when giving “above expectation” information is quite complicated ( I think I said … "The paralinguistic gesture(s) are quite distinctive“ at one time).

But perhaps it is not THAT mysterious. Perhaps we can say that it is just normal speach but with two parameters turned up to the max.

1) Concentation on the listener

2) Care of articulation.

… Stewart

> On Feb 18, 2019, at 12:03 PM, Stewart Fraser <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> I have been thinking some more as to why Alex and And associate “as much as” and “not less than” with “above expectation”. Maybe they have been seeing a lot of "direct selling" schemes being advertised …
> 
> … make 20,000 USD per month all from the comfort of your home. All you need is your own computer …
> 
> Well the figures quoted in these ads ARE above expectations, so SOME connotation there. However I don’t these expression being grammaticise to mean “above expectation” anytime soon. For one thing “as”, “much”, “not”, “less” and “than” have quite active individual social lives. No way they can be phonetically eroded and become two amorphous blobs meaning “above expectation”.
> 
> Mmm … I better watch. I am beginning to sound like Seth. Nothing against Seth, I enjoy his posts, very poetic. There is a line between poetic and obscure that I wouldn’t want to cross over.
> 
> … Stewart
> 
>> On Feb 18, 2019, at 11:23 AM, Stewart Fraser <[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>> On Feb 18, 2019, at 6:29 AM, Alex Fink <[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> On Mon, 28 Jan 2019 21:24:51 +0800, Stewart Fraser <[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> The etymology of “only” is “one body”. 
>>> 
>>> Those are the ultimate meanings of the components.  But modern English _-ly_ = Germanic _-līkaz_ was grammaticalised long ago, as an adjectiviser (NB not a manner adverb formant!  Modern English has innovated there).  And it's probably long ago that it became possible to build new words from it with only the sense of 'like', not the old unbleached sense of 'body'.  
>>> 
>>> This particular derived word seems to be old itself, given that it's elsewhere in Germanic as well: Danish _enlig_ 'single, solitary', Middle High German _einlich_ 'uniform; consistent'.  To me the common denominator looks like simply 'one-ish', i.e. this was the adjectivisation of 'one' which could specialise in different directions.  I'd bet the English started out similar to the Danish -- "I caught a single solitary fish" -- and then more or less as you sketch.
>>> 
>>>> So presumeably, originally it only qualified discrete nouns. Presumeably its usage spread from there to uncountable nouns and then to clauses (via situations where marking the noun as “below expectation” had exactly the same meaning as marking the whole clause as “below expectation”). And after that presumably it became possible to qualify a single verb by “only”. That is … no other verbs/action took place.
>>> 
>>> Or maybe, as Tony said, it just wandered free in the syntax of the sentence, and originally belonged to a noun phrase.  Of the set of potential (say) objects, none other than those enumerated are actually objects.  This, together with the very easy slippage from a potential situation to an expected one (people love to assign normative valence to things), should be the bridge from And's basal meaning 'none other than X has Y; if Y then X' to your scalar 'below expectation' sense.
>>> 
>>>> The words put forward so far as “opposites of only” I have found unconvincing. (I can go into why, if anybody wants to know). 
>>> 
>>> I agree with you for most of what was offered, and with your conclusion that English doesn't have an opposite of scalar "only" with both the same degree of naturality and centrality in that meaning.  But I had thought of "no less than" before I saw And suggest it; both that and his "as many as" have exactly the meaning you are asking for as their prototype.  What do you find wrong with them?
>> 
>> OK … well lets go back to my original example.
>> 
>> “Yesterday I caught 22 fish” looking more directly than usual at my listener (my eyes slightly more open) as I said “caught 22 fish”. Also “caught 22 fish” would be emphasized accoustically (in a way I find hard to describe), especially the “22”.
>> 
>> Sticking “no less than” or “as many as” just before the 22, in no way suggests that 22 is above expectations (or at least not to me). Also I know exactly how many fish I caught. Introducing  “no less than” or “as many as” introduces some doubt as to the exact number of fish caught. I am a bit puzzled as to why you suggest “no less than” or “as many as” mean “above expectation”, to tell you the truth. Maybe you have one particular scenario in mind, where they do ?
>> 
>> I am not saying that languages complete lack a method of expressing “above expectation” … I have just watched a video on astromony, where the speaker said “the light was diminished by a whole 15 %” … but these methods are not central to the grammatical system ... the usage of these methods pales into insignificance when set against the usage of “only”.
>> 
>> “only” has rank 101 in English …. that is it is the 101st most common word in English … as reported by https://www.wordfrequency.info/free.asp?s=y <https://www.wordfrequency.info/free.asp?s=y>
>> 
>> (zhî) has rank 108 in Mandarin …. my Wenlin program
>> 
>> (nomi) has rank 112 in Japanese …. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists/Japanese <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists/Japanese>
>> 
>> I can’t help feeling a particle expressing “above expectation” would be very useful. I find the paralinguistic method (see top of this post) of expressing “above expectation” very interesting. (I assume it is common to all humanity, rather than a cultural thing). (I would be interested to know how sign languages express “below expectation” and “above expectation”, does anybody know ?).
>> 
>> The paralinguistic gesture(s) are quite distinctive. I can still picture an former co-worker of mine saying “my Kawasaki can get up to 156 miles per hour” when someone said something a bit dismissive about his motorbike.
>> 
>>> Alex
>