Alex (yakshaver) wrote,

pet peeve watch: 'as well as'

I was just reading the about page for Tiny Showcase, a website with what seems to be a really cool premise: They make high-quality small-format limited edition prints of original artwork and sell them via the net for far less than you'd pay for pretty much any other original art work. Their artist friends get some exposure and some money; part of the proceeds also go to a charity of the artist's choice, and the customer gets something ... well, not quite unique, but certainly unusual.

So there I was, thinking about posting about the site, when I was distracted by this sentence:
This raises the print price slightly, but now the artist, as well as their favorite charity, benefit from each piece sold.
(Yes, even a scrawny, mangy kitten can sometimes trigger my Look! a kitten! reflex.)

How do you read that sentence? What's the status quo ante? Before the event that raised prices slightly, who, the artists or the charities, was benefitting from sales, and who was not? Am I the only one who's bugged when someone places the objects on either side of as well as in the wrong order? Or perhaps am I the only one who thinks there is an order: does the rest of the world think as well as is commutative?

To me, the entire purpose of that idiom is to assert that the novel or unexpected works as well as the established or expected. People only seem to have trouble understanding this with the as well as idiom, not with the general case of as <property> as. Consider
  • Tom is as strong as an ox.
  • His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad.
  • Bill Gates as rich as Croesus.
Now consider their inverses:
  • An ox is as strong as Tom.
  • A fresh pickled toad is as green as his eyes.
  • Croesus is as rich as Bill Gates.
You might use any of those phrases ironically, but they are not equivalent to the preceding set. The insurgent encroaches upon the entrenched, the novel upon the established  — not the other way around.

Tags: english
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