Not available in all areas gives an impression to me of 90-99% coverage. Not available in some areas makes me think anywhere from 30% coverage up. Its perfectly cromulent, you just have to realise that they mean not (available in all areas) rather than (not available) in (all areas), which would be a valid interpretation outside of the obvious context.
Who knows why they have settled on this phrase, but natural language is unavoidably prone to ambiguity, (though in speech, intonation helps to get around it). I suspect that the phrase itself has just become customary.
I mean really–If someone tells you, “There’s this thing over there you might want to see,” it doesn’t make any sense for them to immediately say right after that: “By the way, that thing I just mention doesn’t exist anywhere.” Right?
We are constantly using context to navigate around the possible ambiguities that language may present.
A statement like “All stores are not open” is similarly ambiguous: it could mean that all stores are closed, or that only some are closed. If you mean the latter, it’s clearer to say “Not all stores are open.” That way it’s clear that “not” modifies “all” rather than “open.”
Likewise, in “Not available in all areas,” the “not” could, technically, modify either “available” or “all.” I suppose you could reword it as something like “Not all areas have it available”; but that’s less pithy and more awkward, and usually it’s clear from the context what “Not available in all areas” means.
No, because this is a tortured utterance no native English speaker would produce, at least not as a sentence on its own. It would work as the first part of a sentence like “In all areas they aren’t available, they were banned by local laws.” or similar, but just “In all areas they aren’t available” doesn’t quite work as an English sentence.
“Not available in all areas” is sufficiently clear and concise, and only has one meaning to people fluent in English. You really have to torture it to find something wrong with it.
No difference in meaning, but I’m going to guess that, as a consumer, my perception might be that “not all” sounds like the product is probably available in my area and “not some” sounds like it might not be available in my area.
It seems the big offenders pre-internet were:
–Alaska/Hawaii, for obvious reasons
–APO/FPO (military mail)
–Quebec, even when the rest of Canada was OK. Did marketers not want to deal with largely French speaking customers, or was there another reason?
For Quebec, Canada has a single federal criminal law system, but civil law (including commercial law) is a provincial matter. For 9 of the provinces this is based on English common law, while Quebec’s civil law is based on the French civil law system. This makes for some significant differences in many areas, and retailers may not want to change their product or processes to handle what might be a significant variance applicable to only a small number of potential customers.
As far as I know, this is still fairly common. I went to college in Santa Fe from 1994-1998, and it was common them. My friends in NM still complain about it. It can be infuriating…if a customer service person decides you’re out of the country, they’ll start pleasantries to hang up and they typically don’t stop no matter what. So you have to call back.
Is this like cabbies who avoid certain neighborhoods? I sure know that cell service isn’t available everywhere, like where I am. And we have food deserts, like here, where nobody delivers. Thai takeout not available in all areas. Survival is not available in all areas. Dignified funerals may become optional. Look for long trenches in cemeteries.
Presumably because they did marketing analysis and found that phrasing it this way centered peoples minds on the “all areas” portion of the phrase, while saying “some areas” focused peoples minds on the areas that were not covered.
People minds don’t work in logical ways, and taking advantage that fact makes up 99% of marketing.
I think you misstated the two choices when carried to your “I haven’t been to all states” example.
It would be either “I haven’t been to all states” ( as you stated ) Which COULD be taken as there are no states that I’ve been to…
“I’ve not been to SOME states” which I think would be perfectly straightforward and with only one meaning.
I was so proud of my five year old when she was able both to read and to reject the marketing speak on a package of paper napkins at the supermarket.
It read “300 NAPKINS”, with the 300 crossed out and 500 written above it in red, and the words, “200 FREE!”
“What does FREE mean?”
“It means you don’t have to pay for something.”
“So does 200 FREE! mean we get 200 napkins without paying?”
“Well, they are saying they used to give you 300 napkins in a package, and now they’re giving you 200 more napkins for the same price.”
“…So, can we take out 200 of the napkins without paying?”
“That doesn’t sound like ‘free’.”
“You are smarter than They want you to be. At FIVE.”
The “except Quebec” clause is most commonly found in lottery/sweepstakes types of promotions. Quebec has much stricter laws for these promotions than other jurisdictions, so many promoters just don’t bother with the extra red tape (or whatever).