usingtherightwords

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Do What They Say, Say What You Mean


One thing leads to another.

Yesterday, I mentioned one of my favorite sayings: “I know you believe you understand what you think I said but I’m not sure you realize that what your heard is not what I meant.”

Today, I take this one step further with words that mean something different from what’s there. 

foul pole — In baseball, it’s the big yellow or white pole that separates foul and fair territory. But if a batted ball hits the foul pole, the batter has hit a home run. So this should be called the fair pole.

life insurance — You only collect upon the policyholder’s death. It’s really death insurance.

sudden death — In sports, it means the next point/goal/scoring unit a team makes/earns wins the game. But since no one dies, shouldn’t it be called sudden victory?

There are also utterances that people say that don’t mean what they’re saying. I’ll translate:

It’s not about the money — It’s all about the money.

I don’t mean to offend, but — I’m about to say something that will offend.

I’m sorry you feel that way This is a non-apology made to fool people into thinking you have apologized. What you’re really saying is, “I disagree with you and I’m not changing my stance, so too bad.”

I want to spend more time with my family — Coaches say this one all the time, but how often do they return to coaching so soon after saying this? What they’re really saying is, “I don’t want to coach this team anymore, and there’s either no available job or no other available job that interests me, so I’m going home to wait until there is.”

I’ve got my family to feed — Former basketball player Latrell Sprewell uttered this while under contract for $14.6 million per season. Translation: “I’m greedy.”

Thanks to Cy Curnin et al. and Jeff Gilkey for the ideas.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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November 15, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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