Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is that Quite Clear or only Quite Clear?

In physical or mental translation, we often stumble upon English-language quirks which we have just accepted for decades without really noticing.

The latest is the very common word "Quite".
Has it ever occurred to you that it has 2 mutually-exclusive meanings?
That everybody uses it without specifying which meaning they have in mind?
And that nobody ever seems to be confused as a result?
Some kind of miracle!

Here are pairs of meanings from various dictionaries:
1. Completely
2. A little or a lot but not completely
1. Absolutely; completely
2. Fairly; moderately
1. Rather; to a degree
2. To the greatest possible extent; completely
1. Fairly but not very
2. Completely
1. To the greatest extent; completely; entirely
2. To a large degree

I have a lot of sympathy for foreigners struggling with English.

Parting thot: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte

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