How do you find our menu?

Ambiguity days: Ruthie (playing a restaurant server) to the neighbor kid James (playing a customer) in the 12/6 One Big Happy strip:

Ruthie has one understanding of (EX) How do you find our menu?, James another, and this difference is reflected in (at least) three (tightly linked) places in the question: in the meaning of the verb find; in the meaning of the present tense; and in the meaning of the interrogative adverb how.

Ruthie’s understanding of (EX) has:

— subjective-judgment find

— a (present-moment) state sense of the present tense

— condition or quality how

James’s understanding of (EX) has:

— objective-search find

— an action (possibly habitual or repetitive) sense of the present tense

— means or manner how

Some notes from NOAD on the verb find and the interrogative adverb how:

on the verb find:

1 [a] discover or perceive by chance or unexpectedly: Lindsey looked up to find Neil watching her | the remains of a headless body had been found. [b] discover (someone or something) after a deliberate search: in this climate it could be hard to find a buyer. … [James’s understanding of (EX) has one of these senses, which refer to an objective discovery, either unexpected or deliberate: Terry will find the hidden clue, either by stumbling on it or through a systematic search]

2 … [b] become aware of; discover to be the case: the majority of staff find the magazine to be informative and useful | [with clause]: … [Ruthie’s understanding of (EX) has this sense, which refers to a subjective judgment: I find your menu to be varied and your food to be delicious]

on the interrogative adverb how:

1 in what way or manner; by what means: how does it work? | he did not know how he ought to behave … [James’s understanding of (EX) has this sense]

2 [a] used to ask about the condition or quality of something: how was your vacation? | how did they play? … [Ruthie’s understanding of (EX) has this sense]


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