There is no place like home: two meanings?

Englishmypassion

Senior Member
India - Hindi
Dear Members,
Namaskar.
After winning the election in her home district/state, Hillary Clinton said the old proverb "There is no place like home". She obviously meant there is no place better than one's home and that's what the expression is always/usually taken to mean.

But taken in isolation, can't the sentence semantically/grammatically mean something like there is really no place that can be called home? I know the meaning of the expression is well established but I mean semantically/pedantically.;):rolleyes:

Thanks.
 
  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    No. I can think of no way of arguing that it means anything other than the only place that resembles home is home.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    I suppose you could possibly take it that way - or use come convoluted writing to create a context where it could be taken that way - but it's unlikely to ever be the intended meaning.

    The literal meaning is that there's no other place that is the same as home. This is usually said to mean that there is no other place as nice as home. But if your home it terrible you might say "There's no place like home, thank goodness!"

    If you wanted to say that there was no place that was you could possible feel at home, or no place that would serve as your home, you would have to say "there's no place that is home to me" or "there's no place that is a home."
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I don't need any expression to express the second meaning, teachers.
    I'm just interested in knowing if the expression in the OP can be taken to mean that, pedantically.

    Thanks, everyone.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    But "there's no place like home", which is a set expression in English, doesn't mean that and would never be taken to mean that.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think you would need to have some prior concept of what a home is, just as we have a concept of what 'Atlantis' is, and then you might say "There is no place like 'home'; that's just a concept invented by the admen, to make us buy more stuff".
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    I think you would need to have some prior concept of what a home is, just as we have a concept of what 'Atlantis' is, and then you might say "There is no place like 'home'; that's just a concept invented by the admen, to make us buy more stuff".

    There is no place like 'home'; I find the palatial house of my Chinese girlfriend the best place to live in. :)


    Yes, RG, you're right-- my question is more of a thought experiment. I've been reading Einstein a lot recently.;):D
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    "There is no place like Atlantis" does not mean that there is no such place as Atlantis. Just as "there is no place like home" means that there is no place that is similar to home, "there is no place like Atlantis" means that there is no place that is similar to Atlantis. Let's not confuse "like" with "such as" - "there's no such place as Atlantis".
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    "There is no place like Atlantis" does not mean that there is no such place as Atlantis.... "there is no place like Atlantis" means that there is no place that is similar to Atlantis.
    Oops! Missed that. Sorry. But then again the same thought experiment can be conducted on that too.


    Thank you, everybody.
     
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    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    There is no place like home, where you always feel comfortable. If you feel comfortable in a house, it's a good house, if you don't, it's a bad one. That's it.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    The thing is, with enough context and explanation you could make almost anything mean almost anything. Imagine a story where the world is so crowded that people are encouraged to commit suicide for the good of the remaining population. Imagine that people who agree to do so identify themselves by putting on a special mask that the government has handed out to everyone. In this story, if you see someone wearing such a mask you know he is heading to the suicide center and you give him any help he asks for. Imagine the mask is yellow and the slang term for it is "a happy face." Imagine too, that there's been a long drought but recently it has been raining, which is making people very happy.

    Now, here is a line from an old song: Gray skies are gonna clear up - put on a happy face.

    Has a different meaning in that context, doesn't it? But without such a complicated context, it just means "things are going to improve - be cheerful."

    My point is that you can distort "There's no place like home" to mean pretty much anything you want it to mean, but unless you do, it means what everyone knows it to mean.
     
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