• Baden
    6.2k
    More people than Baden have tried and failed to argue against me.Michael

    (By the way, I presume you mean "More people than Baden have tried and failed to win an argument against me". At least give me and the Russian agent some credit!)
  • frank
    1.3k
    Neither meaning nor grammar is exactly right or wrong..Baden

    That ain't right!
  • Baden
    6.2k
    I suppose it could be interpreted as "more people than I have been to Russia".Michael

    So, following that route:

    The issue seems to parallel subject/object confusions such as replacing "He traveled to Russia more quickly than I (did)" with "He traveled to Russia more quickly than me" (which though common usage is less clearly logical and too close to the semantically distinct "He traveled to Russia more quickly than (to) me." (Maybe I'm in a further away country. Odd. But logical.) But this example pertains more specifically to extent of ellipsis and aux vs main verb uses of "to have".

    So, writing

    "More people have been to Russia than I."

    Seems to be the solution avoiding some ambiguous association. We ellipt the main verb and its auxiliary to avoid the auxiliary resonating with the main verb meaning of "to have" as applied to the subject "people".

    Consider the sentences:

    1) "More people have been to Russia than I have counted." [Aux verb "has" + main verb "to count" + anaphoric (backward) reference from main verb: (The subject of counting is "people". And you cannot ellipt "counted" and retain the meaning.)]

    vs.

    2) "More children have been to Russia than I have (children)." [Main verb "to have" + object (children) (No anaphoric reference)]. You can ellipt "children" because the noun has been given and it's logical if somewhat confusing.You cannot ellipt "have" though because it is given as an auxilliary verb in the first clause and a main verb in the second. (lack of symmetry across clauses).]

    vs.

    3) "More people have been to Russia than I have been to Russia." Here, "have" is employed as an aux verb and symmetrical across clauses, and as the following main verb "been to" is also the same, it's logical to go for maximum ellipsis, so as not to confuse this form with the kind of limited ellipsis of the last example (that limiting ellipsis explicative of a lack of symmetry across forms of "to have").

    This bring us to:

    "More people have been to Russia than I."

    Which sounds more natural and logical.

    tl;dr The issue regards the logical choice of maximum ellipsis as pertains to symmetry across clauses especially regarding the aux vs. main verb uses of "to have".

    tl;dr 2: The default ellipsis is maximal ellipsis. Not maximally ellipting when an alternative structure maximally ellipted shares the extent of the partial ellipsis of the structure you're using sounds unnatural due to a kind of false resonance/garden path effect.
  • Luke
    108
    A study of this statement (and others like it?) can be found here, although I didn't bother to read too much of it.

    A possibly more esteemed opinion of the matter is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihuJM8wVJw4.
  • Akanthinos
    950
    If "I" could mean a larger quantity of people than one, then the sentence could be parsed and be found to be both valid and true.

    Since the normal usage of "I" never refers to a multitude of people, semantically, it doesnt work.
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