Friday, March 24, 2006

Binary Properties

As well as getting exercised about mixed metaphors, I also amuse myself by observing the inappropriate use of quantifiers with words that don't logically fit with them. The first time I noticed this was when I thought about the phrase "almost unique". It dawned on me that something is either unique or it's not. There is no "almost". It's a binary property. So now I look out for other examples. I guess I'll stick them all here as I find them. Here goes:

"The transfer time should be just about instant."


First Nations said...

just saw your comment over at glitterforbrains.

grab the bullock by the bollock=best alliterative aphorism EVER.

Qenny said...



Lee said...

He's very good.

Oh, and regarding this post: 'plastic glasses' still freaks me.

Qenny said...

Aw, shucks. A commendation from my very, very favourite blogger! I can die and go to Devon now. Cheers for that, Lee.

I had never questioned the notion of the plastic glass, perhaps because I was introduced to them in my student days, when my mind was young and fresh. But now that you point it out, it's downright peculiar.

And these days we have to distinguish between short shorts and long shorts.

david said...

This concept is well expressed in the age-old rule of grammer:

"Never qualify an absolute"

Qenny said...

Shame it's a grammar rule rather than a spelling one. Honestly, David - I despair! :-P

Qenny said...

I didn't know that grammar rule, though, so thank you for enlightening me.

Obviously, if anyone ever quotes it at me, my immediate response will be "I almost never do!"

david said...

As one knows, spelling can be chequed by a
computer program, but grammar interesting
does not yield to such mechanisation.

Grammar is a mix of form and content, like
a free skating program, but spelling is like
the compulsory figures that are never televised!

So for maximum glamour preferentially cling
to that grammer, and sequince not wince over
(zuegma!) the torn undergarment of the

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! » » »