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Recently I wrote the sentence

"Even journals operated by scientific communities have to charge publication fees."

and what I wanted to convey was that there are some such journals that have to charge publication fees. That would not imply that every journal would have to do that.

However, I got rather strong opposition stating that the sentence means that all such journals must charge fees, which would be a significantly different meaning.

What is the right interpretation or is it inconclusive (could mean either of the two)?

Adding and "all" before journals would have made it clear that all journals are meant and adding a "sometimes" before have to charge would have made it clear that only some journals are meant. However, that was not the case, the sentence was as above.

The sentence has since been changed. The purpose of this question is just a better understanding. To make it a bit more formal. If I write

Even Xs have to do Y.

does this mean "All Xs have to do Y" or does it mean that "At least some X have to do Y" or could it mean one or the other? (X is something that has a plural).

  • You only wrote: there are some such journals that have to charge publication fees. Why don't you stick to this sentence only? The question is still unclear to me. – Maulik V Sep 14 '18 at 9:04
  • @MaulikV Added a bit more text to make it clearer. I now stick to a version like that that cannot be mistaken. However, in the beginning I just wrote "Even journals operated by scientific communities have to charge publication fees." and I want to know what exactly I said there. – Trilarion Sep 14 '18 at 9:11
  • It implies to "all" journals. – holydragon Sep 14 '18 at 9:26
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Your example sentence

Even journals operated by scientific communities have to charge publication fees.

implies "all journals" because it is unspecified which journals, ignoring additional context which you might have provided.

If you had written instead

Even some journals operated by scientific communities have to charge publication fees.
Even physics journals operated by scientific communities have to charge publication fees.

would not imply "all" since a subpopulation is specified.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for the answer. Is is really accepted consensus that an unspecified amount defaults to "all"? It could be just unspecified. – Trilarion Sep 14 '18 at 10:44

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