Category Archives: Odd Language

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

Odd Language #244: Dispatching

This story by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. has the sentence in paragraph 2: “Is there a glow from the single lamp, illumining the high-backed reading chair last occupied by his wife before he dispatched her with their children, and all others within and without the City, to the highlands west of the Ramparts of the Sky?”

The issue: “dispatched” could mean sent or killed. Until the “… to the highlands …”, it is uncertain, and I first thought it was the latter which is considerably darker.

Odd Language #240: Which Bacon?

I often chat with the tellers at my credit union when I bank on Friday. A couple weeks ago, I was describing a sandwich that I used to get at my alma mater. It was a turkey-bacon sandwich (or maybe the bird meat was chicken). The teller said she preferred the real thing. I was confused until I realised …

The issue: … that the teller thought that I meant a sandwich made with turkey bacon which is turkey processed to resemble bacon. I was referring to a turkey and bacon sandwich.

Different Thinking

If you had your smartphone stolen, you probably would not be feeling very positive, maybe somewhat victimised. After all, what can you do about it?

This xkcd strip shows an example of different thinking. Enjoy. Now, read the mouseover text, and enjoy some vicarious revenge.

It is not a good idea to do that, but it might help you pick yourself back up.

Odd Language #238: Located How?

“HMAS AE1 (pictured), a Royal Australian Navy submarine lost at sea in 1914, is located off the Duke of York Islands.” — Wikipedia main page for 2017-12-30

The issue: Does the sentence mean that the submarine is at that place or that it was found at that place? It turns out to be the latter. The distinction might be clearer if you consider this sentence: “The submarine, lost at sea in 1914, was located in the maritime museum.” There, the two situations have been separated.

Odd Language #237: A Certain “certain”

I have been watching a lot of math and games videos on Youtube lately. Presh Talwalkar is a very good presenter. One of his videos, Can You Solve The Dice Rolling Drinking Game? has this statement at the 3:39 mark: “At this state, of course, there’s a certain chance, six out of six chance, that we’re going to roll one of the empty glasses.”

The issue: “certain” can mean 100% probable as in “It is certain that …”, or it can refer to a specific item as in “I was looking for a certain brand of soap.”. In the video, the first meaning is intended.