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Several times already this season,
Joe Jackson has been asked to get Daddy a job or
Mommy money to buy the house back.
“You see things behind the beard that nobody
else will ever see or hear. I’ve had children just
literally tear my heart out,” said Jackson
 
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Economic woes
hit Santa’s lap


By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some of the kids crawling onto Santa Joe’s lap this year have more than stuffed animals and video games on their mostwanted lists. Several times already this season, Joe Jackson has been asked to get Daddy a job or Mommy money to buy the house back.

“You see things behind the beard that nobody else will ever see or hear. I’ve had children just literally tear my heart out,” said Jackson, who is a 19th season of playing Santa at private parties and festivals in the northern part of the state.

The slumping economy has families across the nation facing one of their toughest Christmases in years. That means Santa Claus, the jolly confidante for so many under 10, is hearing more than simple requests for a new Nintendo Wii or Elmo Live.

“Children are very trusting of Santa. They are very open with him. They tell him things they normally wouldn’t discuss with other people. And they usually ask Santa to fix things. They know he is someone who can grant wishes,” said Timothy Connaghan, of Riverside, Calif., who has played Santa for 40 years and trained more than 1,500 other Santas across the country through his “School 4 Santas.”He coaches aspiring Kris Kringles to remember that a good Santa can’t promise a new job or money to make everyone’s Christmas dreams come true, “but he can tell them things are always going to get better,” Connaghan said.

It’s not just children who can use some of Santa’s optimism. A Gallup poll earlier this month found consumersare going to spend $150 less this Christmas than last year. The $616 per person was the lowest amount since the research company began asking the question a decade ago.

At Columbia Place Mall in South Carolina, retailers already are trying to fight the trend by handing out thousands of coupon books. And while the traditionally harried shopping season had yet to arrive last week, even that mall’s Santa, sitting in his plush chair waiting for the occasional child, had noticed fewer people making purchases.

Lakicha Mansfield strolled past the Old Navy, Zales and video game store without buying anything. As 4-year-old daughter Mahoganie Whitaker told Santa her wishes for a Cinderella doll, Hannah Montana bubbles and balloons, Mansfield said Christmas will be tough because she’s been looking for work for nine months. “I’m going to try to get her what she wants, some way, somehow,” the 30-year-old said. “I just hope some money comes in soon. I haven’t got her anything yet. I hope someone calls soon.”

Meanwhile, Mahoganie chatted with Santa, nodding as she explained that, yes, she ate all her vegetables, cleaned up after herself and was always nice to her mother.

“It’s nice to see her up there with him,” Mansfield said. “She has no idea what I’m going through.” Santa is getting some heart-wrenching letters at the North Pole, too. Denise Griffitts of Lafayette, La., volunteers for Operation Santa Claus, answering about 250 letters a year from children in her area.

“They’re not asking for a Wii or an Xbox. They’re asking for personal care items, they’re asking for school supplies, they’re asking for warm clothing,” Griffitts said. Connaghan, the Santa trainer, said Santas always want kids to leave their laps happier than when they came.

“Children tend to take on a lot of their parents’ worries. They don’t always
understand what those worries are and sometimes they will embellish them,” he said. “All Santas can hope is to say a few words that are going to be optimistic and give children a feeling everything is going to get better.”

Jackson said his years around children have given him a sense of when children have something depressing on their minds. He said a bellowed “Ho, ho, ho!” a compliment and patter of questions helps get their minds off darker thoughts. “Every time a child goes away with a smile, I know I’ve done something good,” he said.

Raymond Jemison beamed when his mom brought him to the mall from kindergarten. Laroya Missouri, 25, of Camden, said she’s not going to be able to buy the 5-year-old as much as last year, but she is glad she still has a job and can get him some presents. “He’s the most important thing. I want to make sure he has a good Christmas,” she said.

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Very weird, Jerry.

Interestingly, just today my sister was laughing about a similar comment she had heard. A broadcaster was talking about cherry picking in sports*, where the broadcaster said "they were literally cherry picking.

* For those not in the know (as I wasn't), here is the Wikipedia definition of cherry picking in sports: "Cherry picking in sports is the tactic of waiting close to the opponent's goal in hope of receiving the object in play (ball, puck etc) and redirecting it towards the goal. The tactic can degrade the quality of game play, so to prevent or discourage the practice, several team sports have an off-side rule. Ice hockey, for example, requires that a player not enter the offensive zone before the puck."

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they were literally cherry picking

Sadly many people now seem believe that "literally" and "figuratively" are synonyms - much as many seem to believe the same of "infer" and "imply"


Richard English
 
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literally has been used in a figurative sense since at least 1839:

"Lift him out,' said Squeers, after he had literally feasted his eyes in silence upon the culprit. - Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

It's no different than using really figuratively. If I say "I'm really starving", I'm hungry, I'm not starving for real. Why is literally any different? Why is literally the only word in English we're not supposed to use figuratively?

I thought we already tried to dispell the myths around the "confusion" of infer and imply.
 
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I thought we already tried to dispell the myths around the "confusion" of infer and imply.

We have. Like many other words the meaning has changed and the distinctionbetween the two has been accepted for about the last century.

But of course, there will always be those who feel that words should mean what they want them to mean, not what others believe them to mean.

Which is why, when a woman says, "I'm fine", she means "I am not fine" or "I am cross" or "I am upset" or "you are a stupid man if you can't see that I am upset". Unless she actually means, "I'm fine" - but, of course, nobody except another woman would appreciate that.

How nice it would be if everyone said what they meant and meant what they said.


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
to mean, not what others believe them to mean.


How nice it would be if everyone said what they meant and meant what they said.


You think so? That's a world I wouldn't want to live in. Just think about the implications for a minute the next time you wife asks "How do I look?"
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
quote:
I thought we already tried to dispell the myths around the "confusion" of infer and imply.

We have. Like many other words the meaning has changed and the distinction between the two has been accepted for about the last century.


No. Infer has been used to mean "imply" since 1533. Since WWI, some people complained that this use was the blurring of a useful distinction. But in fact the use of infer to mean "imply" has not changed, and still exists today. The whole story
 
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quote:
Just think about the implications for a minute the next time you wife asks "How do I look?"

The truth. How I've wanted to try it.
To tell how she really looks? (Sign) It
Induces on you hurt
If the truth you should blurt --
But you'll get at least one week of quiet.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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You think so? That's a world I wouldn't want to live in. Just think about the implications for a minute the next time you wife asks "How do I look?"


If she actually meant "how do I look?" then it would be easy. You could tell her. But that's not what she means at all. She is not even asking a question. She is actually making a request along the lines of "Tell me I look nice".

Men rarely understand what women say if they make the rash assumption that they are speaking English, since they are not. They are speaking woman - a quite different language that confuses those who do not know this and are decieved by the fact that woman sounds very much like English. Once you realise this and take the trouble to learn some phrases of woman, then you will have an easier time.


Richard English
 
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Since WWI, some people complained that this use was the blurring of a useful distinction.

And it is a distinction with which I agree 100% - even if it is as recent as 1920. We have no other single word that means "To draw a conclusion" whereas we have several that mean "to suggest". Let us reserve the use of "infer" for the former and "imply" for the latter and thereby clarify meaning without losing any linguistic richness.


Richard English
 
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One advantage we have as native speakers is that we can always ask, "Do you mean ______ ?" Thus problems in communication can be solved almost instantaneously.

Writing takes a little longer.
 
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One advantage we have as native speakers is that we can always ask, "Do you mean ______ ?" Thus problems in communication can be solved almost instantaneously.

Not if you're talking to a woman in English and she is speaking in woman.

Then she is likely to respond with something like, "...If you really loved me you'd know!..."

It's generally easier to apologise for whatever it is you've done - or not done. It saves time in the end.


Richard English
 
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Richard, you can't imagine how sorry I am.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
quote:
Since WWI, some people complained that this use was the blurring of a useful distinction.

We have no other single word that means "To draw a conclusion"


deduce, conclude, derive, draw, gather, glean, reason, understand, conjecture, presume, surmise

-New Collins Thesaurus
 
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Don't forget get.

Get it?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
quote:
Since WWI, some people complained that this use was the blurring of a useful distinction.

And it is a distinction with which I agree 100% - even if it is as recent as 1920. We have no other single word that means "To draw a conclusion" whereas we have several that mean "to suggest". Let us reserve the use of "infer" for the former and "imply" for the latter and thereby clarify meaning without losing any linguistic richness.


I don't think you're getting it. You said
quote:
Like many other words the meaning has changed and the distinction between the two has been accepted for about the last century.

This is not true. Infer has meant and still means "imply". Both M-W and the OED list this meaning. This is a fact about the language. Some people think it shouldn't mean "imply", but thinking something does not make it true.
 
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deduce, conclude, derive, draw, gather, glean, reason, understand, conjecture, presume, surmise

I'll give you presuming and even surmising - but I don't agree that the others are very close to "infer".


Richard English
 
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Both M-W and the OED list this meaning

I don't know about MW, but the OED, although it gives the meaning "imply, suggest" also has a note:

The use of infer in sense 2 is considered incorrect by many people since it is the reverse of the primary sense of the verb. It should be avoided by using imply or suggest.

I go along with the OED.

That a word has always had a meaning doesn't mean that an old meaning should always retain its currency.

Were I to remark that a couple of men were having gay intercourse together I would be very likely to get into a lot of trouble. But in Victorian times that would have simply mean that they were having a light-hearted and enjoyable conversation. I doubt that my defence on the grounds that the alternative meanings were still current, would weigh very heavily with the judge at my slander trial!


Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
quote:
Both M-W and the OED list this meaning

I don't know about MW, but the OED, although it gives the meaning "imply, suggest" also has a note:

The use of infer in sense 2 is considered incorrect by many people since it is the reverse of the primary sense of the verb. It should be avoided by using imply or suggest.


Yes exactly. My point is that with respect to this particular meaning of this particular word, the language has not changed. What has changed is some people's opinion about the word. It's not the same as gay, because the meaning of gay has changed.
 
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What has changed is some people's opinion about the word. It's not the same as gay, because the meaning of gay has changed.

Surely any difference in meaning of any word is simply a change in people's opinions as to the meaning of the word. "Gay" still means "light hearted and jovial"; "intercourse" still means "communication". But many people's opinion is that "gay" now means "homosexual" and "intercourse" means "sexual congress".

All that lexicographers can do is reflect (eventually) such changes and they are reflecting the fact that the use of infer, like the use of gay and intercourse, has changed. No matter how much we might dislike the fact, and no matter how mauch we might seek historical precedent to justify our beliefs, words will shift in meaning regardless of the best efforts of pedants and lexicographers alike.


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
Surely any difference in meaning of any word is simply a change in people's opinions as to the meaning of the word.


No, there is an important difference. Lexicographers record usage. An opinion about the meaning of a word is not the same thing as how the word is used. (Some dictionaries record opinions too, in the form of usage notes, but these opinions are kept separate from the meanings themselves.) McDonald's has petitioned dictionaries because McDonald's opinion about what mcjob should mean is different to how the word mcjob is used. But McDonald's opinion doesn't matter to the lexicographers; what matters is how the word is used.

The situation about infer is actually much more complicated than I've been making it.
quote:
1 : to derive as a conclusion from facts or premises <we see smoke and infer fire -- L. A. White> -- compare IMPLY
2 : GUESS, SURMISE <your letter...allows me to infer that you are as well as ever -- O. W. Holmes died 1935>
3 a : to involve as a normal outcome of thought b : to point out : INDICATE <this doth infer the zeal I had to see him -- Shakespeare> <another survey...infers that two-thirds of all present computer installations are not paying for themselves -- H. R. Chellman>
4 : SUGGEST, HINT <are you inferring I'm incompetent?>
intransitive verb : to draw inferences <men...have observed, inferred, and reasoned...to all kinds of results -- John Dewey>


Sense 4 does not occur with a human subject and is a little over 100 years old. Despite complaints, this usage is still in use. This is what I mean when I say that this particular meaning has not changed.

However, sense 3, which dates from 1533, does occur with a personal subject. Dictionaries did not use to distinguish between senses 3 and 4, so people who complained about sense 4 were thought to be complaining about sense 3 as well. As a result, sense 3 has actually been on the decline. So opinions about usage can change usage, but not always, and not always in predictable ways.
 
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If I understand this correctly, you are saying that the sense of infer=imply (sense 3) is on its way out.

And a good job too. Imply = suggest; infer = presume. Sounds grand to me.


Richard English
 
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Originally posted by Richard English:
If I understand this correctly, you are saying that the sense of infer=imply (sense 3) is on its way out.


Yes, that is what I said. But I'm not sure you've understood my point. I'm not arguing that the words should mean one thing or another. I'm saying that opinions about meaning do not equal meaning, and I'm saying that to complain that speakers are confusing "infer" and "imply" is to grossly oversimplify the issue.
 
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It's no different than using really figuratively. If I say "I'm really starving", I'm hungry, I'm not starving for real. Why is literally any different? Why is literally the only word in English we're not supposed to use figuratively?
Thank you, goofy, for bringing me back to reality. I often get taken in by those who have such black and white rules, and yet, as you've shown us all, it is always far more complicated than that. I've enjoyed reading this cogent discussion.
 
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BTW, Richard, you said this in the thread about "mangoes": "There are so many words that have multiple meanings that I am sure they would cope" Yet, here you say, "How nice it would be if everyone said what they meant and meant what they said."

Which is it?
 
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"There are so many words that have multiple meanings that I am sure they would cope" Yet, here you say, "How nice it would be if everyone said what they meant and meant what they said."

These statements are not mutually exclusive; it is a fact that many words have multiple meanings - my feelings about that cannot alter the fact; it would be nice if, regardless of the words used, people said what they meant and meant what they said.


Richard English
 
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about literally... there seems to be a trend of using words that mean "true" or "real" as intensifiers. Even very is from the Anglo-Norman word for "true", vrai in modern French.
 
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From the Washington Post ....

What began six years ago as a huge, muddy cavity next to the U.S. Capitol and has since consumed thousands of tons of concrete, 400,000 carefully selected hunks of stone, and a million and one other bits of metal, marble and history, at a cost of $621 million, will be officially christened tomorrow.

Christened ???

Because the Constitution prohibits Congress from making any laws respecting the establishment of a religion, it would seem that a more secular word would be more appropriate. To christen a part of the Nation's Capitol .... woops !!!
 
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They're using the word in a non-religious context. MW's 3rd meaning is "to name something (as a ship)."


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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These statements are not mutually exclusive;
Well, I took those statements to be mutually exclusive so I guess sometimes it doesn't matter what words are used. People will interpret statements differently, even when they have good intentions.
quote:
there seems to be a trend of using words that mean "true" or "real" as intensifiers.
Interesting. Now that you mention it, I see your point.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
They're using the word in a non-religious context.

Yet look at the Islamic furor of a few years back when a certain US politician referred to our actions as a "crusade." I'm with Jerry on this one.
 
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In that case, we'll have to rename all the crossroads. We can't get cross with anyone. We can't cross the road or our fingers or your legs. You can dot your "i's" but under no circumstances, cross your "t's."

Stop cross-referencing, cross-indexing, and cross-checking. If you're boxing, throw all the jabs you want but no right or left crosses. You gardeners, stop cross-fertilizing plants and no cross-breeding anywhere. Don't cross-dress, cross-hatch, or cross-match. I won't -- cross my heart -- do any of these things. I will never cross swords with anyone, so I won't get my signals crossed, either.

Does anyone know if the Moslem Somali pirates fly the skull and crossbones? I know they won't use a cross-bow, a cross-cut saw, or look through a croos-hair (probably so they won't get cross-eyed). I do know that they are evil and will often eat vast quantities of beans in order to create a virulent crosswind.

So don't get cross at me for mentioning this and above all, don't doublecross anyone.

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Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Proofreader, are you being a crosspatch?
 
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A friend suggested that "christen" is an older word than "Christ," and that it means to anoint ... anoint with what, my friend isn't sure.

Any comments from etymologically inclined historians?
 
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That's it. I'm crossing Jerry off my Xmas list.

The Online Entymology Dic says "Christen": General meaning of "to name" is attested from c.1450.

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Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Christ comes from Greek khriein "to anoint". The earliest meaning of christen was "to make Christian".

The OED's earliest citation for Christ is c950. The earliest citation for christen is c890. The verb is built on the obsolete adjective christen "Christian", which also dates from c890.

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