Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

OT Caution!! IRA funding (was: English word order and bumper stickers)

From:Adrian Morgan (aka Flesh-eating Dragon) <dragon@...>
Date:Friday, September 17, 2004, 10:05
Roger Mills wrote, quoting myself:

[Re: Interpretation of the phrase "terrorism funded by America".]

> > The word "America", in this context, was almost universally taken > > by Americans to mean "the American government", whereas it was > > almost universally taken by non-Americans to mean "the American > > populace". > > Well, as you see, I fall into the first category; I'm truly > surprised at the second-- everything one hears, even from the Arab > world nowadays, certainly suggests to me that non-Americans are > quite capable of distinguishing the two, indeed eager to do so.
Why are you surprised at the second? There is no suggestion of people failing to distinguish between American government versus American people; the variation lies in which of those two distinct bodies people thought of when they heard the word "America" used unqualified. Sometimes context will resolve the ambiguity. If I comment upon the performance of America in the Olympics, it is clear that I am referring neither to the performance of the American government /nor/ of the American populace, but rather that of American /athletes/. However, if I say that a specified amount of terrorism was funded by a specified country, then I *could* be talking about terrorism funded officially by the government of that country, or I *could* be talking about the total amount of terrorism funded by individuals who are citizens of that country. I'm very puzzled at why you think that the latter, but not the former, indicates a failure to distinguish between the government and the people. Adrian.