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Archive for July, 2005

Word of the Week

This week’s word of the week is: flog

Flog has a variety of meanings, all quite different. Well, I say variety when I mean two or three obvious ones. Not much variety at all, really.

You could flog a dead horse but you wouldn’t get much money for it. Of course, in the traditional sense, to flog a dead horse means to try to carry on when there really is no hope of continuation, to not know when to give up. Flog, in this instance, meaning to beat.

Here in Britain, flog’s main meaning is: to sell something.

There’s even a TV show here in the UK called Flog It, where people have to try and sell antiques to make a profit.

I don’t see how beating antiques severely can make money, but I’m willing to give it a try.

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Big Business

I’ve always wanted to be a little guy who owns a business. I could make my own rules. Stand up to all the big guys towering over me.

But, alas, I’m 6’0″, 190. And while that’s certainly not huge, it doesn’t qualify me as a small business owner.

Now, if my business were a small one, I could definitely consider myself a small-business owner.

I think I’ll go with that.

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Bring and Buy

This happened yesterday when I went for a routine medical at my GP’s:

Me: I’ve got an appointment to see Nurse at 12 o’clock.

Receptionist: Have you bought a urine sample?

At that point I was really tempted to say, ‘No, I made my own,’ with a smile but thought it would have been condescending or pedantic…and I’m not like that.

I used to have problems with’ brought’ and ‘bought’ myself until I saw a simple sign in a school where I was doing a charity presentation. It read:

If you bring it, you brought it – if you buy it, you bought it.

Whoever invented those two words could have been a little more creative and not chosen words that sound similar, for the benefit of illiterate people such as myself and the receptionist.

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Word of the Week

After an absence, WOTW returns.

This weeks Word of the Week is: lorry

It sort of sounds like a person’s name rather than a haulage machine. Of course, like the word truck, it presents problems to people who have difficulty in rolling their R’s.

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Why do a lot of keep fit fanatics say that?

Most temples around the world are actually quite weathered and don’t look that good at all. I think the saying probably fits unhealthy people better.

Besides that, it’s like saying ‘my body is a place where people come and worship’ which sounds conceited to me. Worship yourself by all means, but don’t expect others to.

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Context

It’s amazing just how different things can seem when taken out of context. I turned the TV to hear an American voice saying this:

“When shooting people it’s important to have the right conditions.”

I was in the kitchen making breakfast and couldn’t see the screen, but was already wondering what kind of psychopath they’d allowed on TV.

“Problems can be eliminated…”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and walked over to where I could see the screen…shooting; eliminated; what???

“…by using the correct aperture and shutter speeds for the conditions.”

In the UK, we don’t shoot people, we take pictures. Shooting people usually implies death or serious injury. It did give me a good laugh afterwards, though. Had I turned on the TV a few seconds earlier or later I wouldn’t have had that laugh.

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Condition or Permission?

Language is like a flowing river. Its course changes. The water you see at a point along the river is never the same water.

As it should be. New words. New ways of expressing.

But not all change is good.

Consider the problem of May vs. Might.

As each day passes, the word “may” has transformed into a way to describe a conditional possibility. This blending is problematic.

As we were all taught, we say “may” when we are asking for permission. How often have you heard an authority figure say to you in response to asking for permission: “I don’t know … CAN you?”

We say “may” when we should be saying “might,” and the distinction isn’t clear.

It might seem like a small problem (and it is), but it’s still a problem.

An example, off the top of my head:

“The ethics commission chairman says the mayor of New York may seek a second opinion on charges of ethics violations.”

So what is this saying? That the mayor is allowed to seek a second opinion by the chairman of the commission? Or that the chairman is giving us a little inside knowledge, that the mayor MIGHT seek a second opinion?”

We must stem the tide of ambiguity!

e+

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