Category Archives: Odd Language

Some uses of language can be very peculiar-sounding or can be ambiguous in unexpected ways.

Odd Language #211: Left or Left?

‘Vergerin’s smile was grim. “They had the choice of signing new contracts with me—for I will not honor the old ones—or leaving. Not many left.”‘—Dragonseye, Anne McCaffrey, p. 363

The issue: “Not many left.” could mean that not many chose the alternative of leaving (which is the intended interpretation), but it could also mean that there are not many left (which would mean that many took the option of leaving).

Odd Language #210: What’s Wrong With You?

Recently, a video on SoraNews24 covered some of the conflicts that can occur between spouses of different cultures. One item covered was the difference between “What’s wrong with you?” vs. “What’s wrong?”

The issue: When asking about someone’s problem, the two would seem to mean about the same, but the first is likely to be taken as accusatory whereas the second is taken as being more neutral.

Note that the URL is valid: they changed their name from RocketNews24 to SoraNews24 recently, but have not changed the Website yet. You can use en.soranews24.com in place of the domain name, but your browser will be redirected to en.rocketnews24.com.

Odd Language #209: Prey for Me?

I am currently reading, Worm a really dark superheroes story. Warning: It is really dark. In chapter 12-3 is the sentence: ‘”They want to be the predators, we make them prey,” Noelle said.’

The issue: It can be read as Noelle’s group makes the subject they into prey—and this is the intended meaning, but it can also be read as Noelle’s group makes prey for the subject they. The second use is taking the first noun after the verb as being the indirect object. This is the same type of usage as “He gave them a gift.” which means “He gave a gift to them.”.

Odd Language #208: Right-Hand What?

A recent SoraNews24 article has an odd sentence: “The actual shrine itself, though, is hidden from view so you’ll need to walk through the torii, then make your way around the right-hand coast of the island.”

The issue: “right-hand coast”? It is correct, but it is definitely not the way I would express it. How about you?

Note that the link is correct. SoraNews24 recently changed their name from RocketNews24, but they have not fully updated their Website yet.

Odd Language #207: The Check?

One sequential art title that I follow is Misfile. A recent strip had one character describing her relationship with her parents: ‘”There’s very little I can’t do as long as it’s legal and they don’t have to be involved outside of a check.”’

The issue: Bad parenting aside, this sentence is ambiguous. The word “check” could mean a check by the parents (that things are OK) or a cheque (as in “Pay to the order of …”). I was puzzled briefly as to which.

Note that in my written style (which leans to British spellings), this would not be ambiguous since the second type is spelled “cheque”. (And I spelled it that way above. I was going to correct it, but since I think that “cheque” is the correct spelling, I did not.)

Odd Language #206: Yet Another Double

I posted this recently on a programming forum in a thread on puzzles: “What both solutions are are questions where the truthteller and the liar will answer the same.”

The issue: The “are are”, of course. The first one is part of the subject of the main clause (“What both solutions are”) and the second is the main clause verb.

Odd Language #204: Using That Money

A recent USENET post contains the sentence: “It’s now giving me enough money that I am contracting for more advertising-usable illustrations using that money.”

The issue: This caused a subthread about confusion over exactly what was meant. “using that money” could be spending the money on illustrations (the intended meaning) or the illustrations are using the money. (If it were a person or group of people, the agency would be more obvious.)

Maybe, the illustrations are made out of money? It has been done: http://pennyportrait.com/.

Odd Language #203: More More

I recently posted to USENET a post containing: “I have rarely found coupons worthwhile. So often, it is for something that costs way more more than the amount you save.”

The issue: Two “more” in a row is rather unusual, but it is arguably correct. “way more” means “a lot” so the overall meaning is that the item costs a lot more than what is saved.