Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Language, As She is Spoke

It took me forever to finally get "infer" and "imply" straight. (You imply; I infer.) And English has a trainload of words which don't mean quite what I think they do. I shall probably die of old age still in ignorance of most of that trainload. And there is grammar, syntax, idiom. . . .But progress is being made.

For instance.

I saw the other day a mention of Dick Tuck. (I think it was in Dan Weintraub's column but I can't find the reference at the moment.) Do you remember Mr Tuck? He's the fellow who famously played "tricks" on Richard Nixon's various political campaigns. On other Republicans, too, but it was the Nixon hijinx that put him in the news. And yet another rule of proper usage became clear:

If you sabotage a Republican campaign, you are a prankster, engaged in merry pranks which we all find hilarious. If you sabotage a Democratic campaign, you are a felon engaged in dirty tricks and endangering democracy. We all despise you.

Non-native English speakers must have a dreadful time sorting this stuff out.