Flammable (was: Early Conlang Archives)
|From:||Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>|
|Date:||Friday, March 12, 1999, 6:51|
At 12:44 pm -0500 11/3/99, John Cowan wrote:
>Sally Caves scripsit:
>> Confusion about this word has caused many Americans to
>> resort to "flammable," which I think is bad news, because if they now write
>> that something is "inflammable," what do they mean?
>That isn't the safety issue. "Flammable" has replaced "inflammable"
>on trucks and such because it warns you to beware; as Quine says,
>semi-literacy is not a capital crime.
Exactly the same has happened this side of the pond :)
>> Will or won't your
>> kid's pajamas burst into flames? GGGGG
>In such contexts I usually see "non-flammable". But "inflammable"
>is still used for all the metaphorical uses.
In such cases 'non-flammable' is obligatory over here because of the safety
'Inflammable' is a word I distinctly remember misunderstanding when I was a
kid; I remember a model plane that was marked 'inflammable' and was rather
disconcerted when the wretched thing burnt!. And I guess many other kids
(as well as adults) have also misunderstood that word and, I'm sure,
sometimes with far more tagic consequences than a lost model plane.
The word seems to be falling into disuse here even in the metaphorical use
where 'inflammatory' is the usual word.