usingtherightwords

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One More Last Thing? How Can That Be?


Funny thing about language: You never know when or how someone will misspeak, and give me something to write about.

At a recent networking meeting, a featured speaker exceeded his allotted 10 minutes. When the timekeeper signaled that time was up, he responded, “One more last thing.”

Admittedly, I didn’t hear him say it, but someone else did and pointed it out to me.

And he was absolutely right to do so. Last has three dictionary listings and 15 definitions,  most of which deal with being the only remaining one or the final one. With that in mind, there can be no additional last thing; there can be only one.

Or can there be more?

In my dictionary is a usage explanation. It says last “applies to something that comes to at the end of a series but does not always imply that the series is completed or stopped. Final applies to that which definitely closes a series.” (bold added)

So, if the speaker suddenly remembered something else he wanted to say, the series isn’t complete until he says it. That one more last thing really was the last thing.

And that’s the last word on this subject, other than to thank Stephen S. for the idea.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

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July 24, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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