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In opening scene from Memento (2000), memory loss Leonard meets Teddy at a store:

Leonard: It's Leonard......like I told you before.

Teddy: Did you? I must have forgot.

Leonard: I guess I've already told you about my condition.

Teddy: Only every time I see you.

What does "Only every time I see you" mean?

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    I haven't seen the film, but presumably Teddy's first response is sarcastic. Leonard explains about his amnesia every time they meet; only is also sarcastic. Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 15:58
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    Can you explain what your problem is a bit more. I assume you know the meaning of the six words involved?
    – mdewey
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 15:58
  • @KateBunting I didn't know "only" used as sarcastic way.
    – Martin Kay
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 16:08
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    Teddy might be expected to say "Only once" or "Only a few times" - putting only before every time emphasises the fact that he finds it irritating to be told the same thing so often. Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 16:19
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    Me: have I told you how I played Julius Caesar in the school play? My wife: only every time I mention theatre. Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 17:22

2 Answers 2

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This is a common form of sarcasm, deliberately violating the "co-operative principle" or "Gricean maxims", to emphasise a point.

Consider the more straight-forward phrase "you only say it on Mondays" - the implication is that the other six days a week, it is not mentioned.

This can be extended to "you only say it six days a week" - this is still logical, because it excludes one day, but is beginning to sound sarcastic, because we expect "only" to refer to a minority of cases, not a majority.

Taken to the extreme, we get "you only say it every day" - here, the expectation of the word "only" is completely subverted, underlining the sarcasm.

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You can watch this scene here.

Ah well, only every time I see you.

Teddy jokingly confirms that Leonard reminds him of the condition every time they meet.

I see it as a friendly "I don't mind hearing it again (even though I have heard it many times before)" remark.

Only also could be seen sarcastically, which would imply a slight annoyance.

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