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(In)flammable (WAS: Early Conlang Archives)

From:FFlores <fflores@...>
Date:Thursday, March 11, 1999, 13:48
Sally Caves <scaves@...> wrote:
> In- in Latin is just a such a prefix, both intensifying and negating. > Inflammable > means "likely to inflame." (the propensatory? <G>). But inedible... > definitely > not "likely to eat"! Confusion about this word has caused many Americans
> > resort to "flammable," which I think is bad news, because if they now
> that something is "inflammable," what do they mean? Will or won't your > kid's pajamas burst into flames? GGGGG
The inflammable=fammable issue is one of those curious "contradictions" of the English language that I've heard of. The other one is "burn down" = (more or less) "burn up" (I know they have different connotations, but the meaning is actually the same!) As for the "flammable" thing, in Spanish we say "inflamable"; I've never heard "ininflamable". Probably "no inflamable" would do, but in some cases you hear "incombustible" or even "igni'fugo". But "incombustible" has other connotations: it means "that won't burn" in a figurative sense; in Spanish "quemarse" [(get) burn(ed)] means "to get caught in a dishonest practice", so you might hear "un poli'tico incombustible" (an incombustible politician) for some recurring characters in local politics who keep winning elections or getting offices even after several scandals... I don't think you can say pajamas are "incombustibles" or "igni'fugos" in Spanish -- you make it sound as if you were talking about paint or wallpaper. --Pablo Flores * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year. Marty Allen