Thursday, April 16, 2009

English usage

Words and their use in common English can be confusing and raise more questions. Take for example this entry in today's On This Day (The Daily Telegraph): "2007 - Virginia Tech student Cho Seung-Hui shoots 32 fellow students and then himself in the deadliest peacetime shooting in US history." Note the use of "peacetime" which wasn't carried in other On This Days I looked at on the net (at least one of which didn't include this event at all). Does leave it open to some thought - especially if you think of "shooting" in terms of one or two people doing the shooting. Were the others in wartime, as opposed to "peacetime" - and what were they?
Other confusing language use - the report, also in The Daily Telegraph, of riot police at a Sydney university after they were called in response to a "disturbing" letter. They were at the campus yesterday "following last week's discovery of a letter in the student administration centre". Hmmm ... "a" letter, as opposed to "the" letter. All (or both) very confusing language.

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