not agree with

The One Big Happy in my comics feed yesterday has Ruthie v Idiom, once again:

The verb agree that Ruthie has in mind is a reciprocal verb, denoting a relationship R1 between two people α and β, in which α and β have the same opinion on some matter, so that if α agrees with β, then (ceteris paribus) β agrees with α and (again, ceteris paribus) α and β agree. Ruthie then understands her grandmother to be treating the referent of something he [Ruthie’s grandfather, person β] ate last night as a person α and is saying that R1 doesn’t hold between α and β — the scene Ruthie imagines in the third panel of the cartoon, in which α and β disagree, hold different opinions, as to which color is the best.

But the verb agree that Ruthie’s grandmother is using is the verb in the idiom not agree with, denoting a relationship R2 between a food ɣ and a person β such that eating ɣ causes β to have an upset stomach. In Ruthie’s grandmother’s usage, something he [Ruthie’s grandfather, person β] ate last night denotes the troublesome food ɣ, the food that has caused β to have an upset stomach.

If β is merely having a disagreement, an argument, with the food, then there’s no reason why β shouldn’t just come downstairs. But if he’s sick in bed, then well of course he’s not likely to be coming down soon.

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