Trivia Teaser

Which country lies between Nicaragua and Panama?

Puerto Rico
New Zealand
Costa Rica

'I do not think it means what you think it means'


By Miranda


I love the film, The Princess Bride. Yes, it's a children's film and is probably best viewed in the company of children. But there's plenty there for an adult – enchantment, adventure, awareness of and subversion of genre, fun. They, well, Rob Reiner, managed to assemble a cast each of whom was not only near-perfect for her or his role (we really do need a possessive determiner for this context, singular and non-specific as to sex/gender) but who worked beautifully together.



It's become a bit of a family classic and 'As you wish' a family code - no spoilers, you'll have to get the DVD for yourself. Or read the book (better still, read it to a child) and you'll see how William Goldman's writing - he did the screenplay, too – gives the work its sparkle.



Favourite character – Inigo Montoya, artist with the sword and semantics (though perhaps not with grammar). He takes Vizzini to task for using the word 'inconceivable' in respect of something which has actually occurred – thus obviously being able not only to be conceived or imagined but also to be made real.



It's all too easy to mishear or misread a word or to make an error in interpreting the dictionary data, should your research get so far. Then, no matter how logical the connection you worked out or deduced from the word's context, you end up associating an incorrect meaning with a particular word.



Dictionaries often differ – 'enormity' is restricted to huge moral awfulness in one major title, while another of equal or greater reputation allows the simple 'great size or area' notion to be fully legitimate, rather than being an 'informal use'.



Nonetheless, one needs to be careful.



The commentator at the recent Winter Olympics was more likely to have been complaining about the outlandishness of the garments rather than appealing for a return to the customs of ancient Olympic competition when declaring the skaters' costumes were 'extraneous'.


34 Responses to

'I do not think it means what you think it means'

argee26 said:
March 10, 2010 at 8:31 PM

What really has me mad is listening to reporters talking to some quite influential people who can only come up with "yu know" "yu know". No I don't know, I thought that was the reason I was listening to your garble - to perhaps find out what I "dunno..."

Lillypop said:
March 11, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Goodness me! After reading all of these comments (which I mostly agree with), all I can say is "no wonder my 11yr old has so much trouble with her spelling and writing." Hats off to all of the wonderful teachers who all try so hard to meet the demands of EVERY child in their class.

March 11, 2010 at 10:17 PM

I agree, Lillypop, our grandchildren really struggle with spelling and writing although they all read a lot. I notice someone mentioned th words being pronounced with a f sound. My ex son in law does this and so do the children. It must drive them mad, me telling them to put their tongue between their teeth to get the right sound. Then all my good work gets undone when they go to their father's place and hear him. Boy, you really have to watch your spelling and grammar in these replies.

ganojomo said:
May 08, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Here, again, we can point the finger at our newsreaders. I know that they don't write the words that they read in a bulletin, but they obviously don't think about them either. Almost every night, when watching the news, I hear a sentence where the words, if taken literally, mean something completely different to the message that they were meant to convey. Thankfully I live alone, so the only 'people' to hear my rants are my dogs.