Saturday, October 16, 2004

Slippery Words

I love the slippery nature of language - particularly what I like to call semantic wobbles (although I'm sure there's a technical linguistic term for them) where not enough attention has been paid to the rules of language, and a phrase "wobbles" away from its intended meaning. Take this example from my workplace, for instance:

"Soap Machine
Sometimes Jams
Press repeatedly"

Because the phrase misses out the definite article, and takes on a telegraphic style, I now think that our dispenser may occasionally bring forth a raspberry preserve or plum compote if I "press repeatedly". Pedantic I know, but it made me chuckle.

No comments: