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He told uz of his life … I ♡ Usenet … „schwed.skånk…“ 22nd of April, 2006 POST·MERIDIEM 01:01

I find via Emma’s Livejournal that I need to listen to the Beatles’ Revolver  more, and to this end I bought an MP3ified copy from everyone’s favourite online music store that accepts Irish credit cards from German IP addresses (so, not the iTMS, heh.) Yay, globalisation. And on the album, of course, is “Yellow Submarine,” which has Every one of us has all we need,  as part of the lyrics, something I’m sure you’ve all heard thousands of times.

Now, however, hearing it for the first time in years, it occurs to me that the line is ungrammatical for me in its intended meaning. Grammatically, it means (again, to me) that each member of the group has the resources that would be necessary for the entire group.  So, imagining N as the amount of resources needed for the group, and M members of the group, M × N would be the amount of resources necessary for that line to be true.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that, because such a situation would be so weird that someone explaining it would have to go into more detail to get the message across. It means, assuming an all-male group, “Every one of us has all he needs.” Assuming a mixed group, hmm, it’s hard to put it. Let’s try:

* Every one of us has all they need. (Ungrammatical, would be grammatical for me in the presence of another group distinct from “us”. Singular “they” doesn’t work for me there, despite my having nothing against it in general.) 

Every one of us has all needed. (Grammatically fine, doesn’t fit the melody.) 

Every one of us has what one needs. (Grammatically okay, stylistically wildly inappropriate. Also the [s] on the end damages the rhyme a bit.) 

So. Looks like John & Paul made the best of a bad lot; it is slightly weird to me that I heard it so often and never noticed the ungrammaticality before, though.

Via Maciej’s bookmarks, a collection of excellent Usenet posting has meant that I’ve been doing very little but reading over the last few days. Cf. this on self-sealing fuel tanks in the Second World War, something I was aware existed, but I was always slightly unclear on how they worked:

“The engineers who developed the self sealing fuel tanks for the F6F Hellcat used as a benchmark, the .50 caliber machine gun. They'd develop a tank and set it out on the firing range and shoot a single round through it to see how it faired. Metal tanks blew apart. So bladder type tanks were used with a sandwich of raw rubber between layers of fabric. When the bullet passed through the layers, the gasoline leaked around the hole. The leaking gas reacted with the raw rubber causing it so swell and seal the hole. This couldn't help when the tank was hit by an explosive shell but worked for non explosive bullet hits.”

Word of the day; „der Schenkel, Schenkel“ is German for “thigh”; the related English “shank” means the leg between the knee and the ankle, something I didn’t know up to now. (I only knew it in terms of cuts of meat, and in “Shank’s mare,” a mythical beast the usage of which involved going somewhere on foot.)


I actually get the other reading, that each person has, without dependency on any other, all that that person needs, which comes out totally grammatical for me.

I suppose there are two other interpretations: one, which is yours, and the other which says that the combined resources of everyone in the group is enough to satisfy the collective needs of the group. Two? No, quite untrue. Ignoring quantifier scope, there are but four ways you could combine the distributive/collective readings.

[collective: everyone one of us] has [collective: all we need]; so the resources of the group combined = needs of group combined; it may be that person x does not have what person y wants.

[collective: everyone one of us] has [distributive: all we need]; resources of group combined satisfies individual needs of each group member: person x may still not have what person y wants...same truth conditions as the above, I think

[distrubtive: everyone of us] has [distributive: all we need]; each individual group member has the resources to satisfy (and here this depends on binding and quantifier scope, bah!): a) the wants of each person in the group or b) the wants of his/her own self; in a) person x must have what person y wants where in b) that still must not be true

[distributive: everyone of us] has [collective: all we need]; each individual group member has the resources to satisfy the needs of the group as a whole; person x must have what person y wants

Oh, my head is spinning and I need some lambdas to make sense of it all, and perhaps a little sleep, or if anything, coffee.

I have a tendency to believe nearly everything is grammatical, though, so I wonder if I’m not over-generating. And, I did ignore the complicated matters of quantifier scope ond binding/coreference of us-we.


Without the line breaks, the above looks rather messy and unintelligible...just the way I like my semantics.

Heh, line breaks added.

Well, for me “all we need” can only mean “all the group needs” in that context. That is the only way I can grammatically interpret it; it would need a singular pronoun and verb form instead of “we need” to have the distributive reading. And “every one of us” is inherently distributive to me; the “of us” immediately following “one” prevents “every one” being the collective “everyone,” and emphasises the individuality.

(That Rutherford quote on sociology springs to mind— ah, *quick Google™ later*, here it is—‘The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the “social sciences” is: some do, some don’t.’)


I knew some Germans who fit this image, but all? Should I have been asking more searching questions?

Well, I imagine it’s a generational thing. How many pensioners did you talk to?

(I’m reminded of a half-German friend with family in the former DDR who doesn’t have any contact with them, apparently on the basis that the grandmother is unreservedly Nazi (though I could be misunderstanding something). Which, yeah, for me initially on learning it, WTF? I suppose the young punk neo-Nazis’ opinions had to come from somewhere. )

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