quote:The pharmceutical business is one that rcequires massive investments - it costs more than $800 million to develop and market the average new drug - but where the marginal cost of producing an extra pill approaches zero. That's what makes it such and attractive target for [those] who want to demagogue about the high costs of prescription drugs. ... [Thus,] the U.S. is already facing strong pressure within the World Trade Organization to allow the "compulsory licensing" of drugs to generic producers for an ever-widening array of maladies. Needless to say, the less able drug companies are to recoup the costs of development through patent protection, the less risk they will be willing to take in finding new drugs.
Out of curiosity, do Americans use the phrase "smart alec" to describe someone who is always trying to seem more clever than everyone else? Anyone have any clues on the origin of this idiom? Who was the original Alec, I wonder?
These are just one of the devices that we, in the UK, use to increase the subtelty of our communication.
A thing that is "not uncommon" would be rarer than a thing that is "common".
Thus a pub that is "not bad" will be different from a pub that is "good". And a pub that is "not bad at all" will be different again. However, although all of us in England understand the subtelty, please don't ask us to explain it!
Posts: 8037 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UK
There is nothing wrong with using a logical phrase such as 'not bad' for good or 'not unlikely' for likely. We reserve the idea of a double negative for a phrase which is illogical, eg using 'Don't never do that again' to forbid something.
Both types would be universally understood here, as would the subtleties concerning the type of person who would use each construction: gobshite or thickie, respectively.
quote:Originally posted by Graham Nice: litotes or meiosis
I'm not so sure these words fit what Asa asked. But for the life of me I can't come up with a better answer.
Litotes seems to be a deliberate, modest understatement (typically meant to imply the opposite of the literal meaning), but it doesn't necessarily use the word "not." ("It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.")
Meiosis is a type of litotes where the understatement is by the name used, rather than by an adjective such as "tiny". (Said of an amputated leg: "It's just a flesh wound." Or calling the Mississippi River "a stream.")
quote:The more so it you start speaking about "falls".
So, there is no "fall" season in England? Interesting!
Now, Graham, I can figure out a "thickie", and, yes, those who say "don't never" in the states would be considered a "thickie", too. However, "gobshite"? My online dictionary says it is British slang for "a mean or contemptible person"; is that correct?
I heard another new one today from an English woman who recently moved to the U.S. She used the phrase "key to the door", referring to one who turns 21. She also told a group of us that we speak "American" English, which in England is better known as "bastardized" English.
quote:"a mean or contemptible person"; is that correct?
"Gob" means "mouth" and "shite" is "sh*t", so a gobshite is someone who talks, erm, rubbish. It has come to be an all-purpose insult, so the definition you give could well apply. I'm not sure, but I think it originated in Ireland; certainly it is common in Liverpool, which has a large contingent of Irish.
quote:She used the phrase "key to the door", referring to one who turns 21.
Yes, that's pretty common over here. 21st birthday cards all seem to be decorated with keys. It refers to attaining one's majority - nowadays that happens at 18, but still... Presumably in the past kids weren't trusted with the front door key until they'd grown up completely.
quote:She also told a group of us that we speak "American" English, which in England is better known as "bastardized" English.
That was rather rude. We might think that, but we don't normally say it!
quote:It is not a very common expression and it is, as has been pointed out, rather impolite
I needed to tell you the whole story. I have to say, watching this English woman talking to a group of Americans was quite a cultural awakening. My fellow Americans were being curious and meant no harm, I am sure, and I think this English woman could see that.
Before the English woman made the "bastardized" comment, the Americans were commenting about the English "royalty" and "food". Their remarks were more out of ignorance than knowledge, but still, they were derogatory. Then someone said that she couldn't understand the British accent (it seemed understandable to me), and she questioned why the English always "misspelled" words. Our English friend, with quite a sweet smile and very poised, then made the comment about "bastardized English". It was so funny because she said it with so much charisma that no one ever took it as an insult. They just shook their heads in agreement, laughing. This woman should go into politics!
quote:Originally posted by Richard English: The more so it you start speaking about "falls". That's when we trip up and lose our balance. We have autumn in England.
Aktyully: "Fall" in that sense is a perfectly respectable English word, recorded as far back as 1545, that was brought here by our original colonists. It remained in common use in England until the last half of the 1800's, and then died out there for reasons unknown.
So it's not so simple to tell which is the "bastardized" form.
R.E.: I realise that "fall" was a perfectly respectable word in UK English at one time. However, like so many other "old" words that have survived in US English it is now considered incorrect.
So considered in England's usage, you mean.
R.E.: Another good example is "gotten" which was perfectly good old English but which is now pilloried as an "Americanism".
Though in fact it was not made-in-America.
My point was that when the two lands' usages differ, one cannot simply conclude, "That which is not mine is the bastardized version." You can't tell which is the original -- and change may in itself be good, rather than bad.