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    #1

    both stories can't be true

    It doesn't take much brain to work out that both stories can't be true.

    This sentence is taken from Oxford, 6th edition, brain.
    Does the speaker mean 'Neither of the stories is true' or 'Only one of the story is true'?

    Could I ask native speakers to help me please? Thank you in advance.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: both stories can't be true

    Both interpretations are possible; however, the unmarked reading is that one story is true, not both. The marked reading is that both are not true.

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    #3

    Re: both stories can't be true

    In British English, "both... can't" is most likely to be interpreted as "it is impossible for both to be true at the same time" so the implication is that is one is a lie, and that the person or people responsible are dishonest in any case.

    The situation is not that different in AE, where "both... can't" is likely to be interpreted as "neither can be"... but this interpretative tendency is not absolute or immutable, and the AE reader would come to the same conclusion, in essence, although perhaps might not grasp the exact emphasis meant in BE.

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    #4

    Re: both stories can't be true

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    The situation is not that different in AE, where "both... can't" is likely to be interpreted as "neither can be"... but this interpretative tendency is not absolute or immutable, and the AE reader would come to the same conclusion, in essence, although perhaps might not grasp the exact emphasis meant in BE.
    Hi konungursvia,
    I know your concern about social issues and concern for minorities. I find AE (and BE) to be insensitive, since AusE is also AE, and the implication that it must mean AmE tends to marginalise (and even silence) AusE.
    (Not to mention Australian Aboriginal English AAE, African English Vernacular AEV, etc.)
    Perhaps speakers of Barbadan English, Bermudan English, Bahamas English ... also feel the same about BE. I find that AmE and BrE have a respectable pedigree. They are terms used by David Crystal and other writers on World Englishes. Would you consider them?

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    #5

    Re: both stories can't be true

    Okay. AmE and BrE it is. But let's use OzE for you guys. What do you think?

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    #6

    Re: both stories can't be true

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Okay. AmE and BrE it is. But let's use OzE for you guys. What do you think?
    Sure

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