"Pre-owned,""near miss," "s/he"

Paul Ivsin paul at IMPLICATURE.COM
Fri Sep 28 13:41:50 UTC 2001

Seems to me that the possible conflict is nothing more than a multiplicity
of accepted uses of "pre" and "near."

"Pre" can be used as "prior to" (prehistory), but is quite commonly used to
mean "in advance" (preheated, prepayment, prefabricated).

"Near" has, similarly, uses as "almost" (near death, near beer) and "close"
(nearby, near side, near point, near miss).

Someone could, I suppose, reanalyze "pro" in the same way (pronoun, pro
tempore, pro-choice), if ya really wanted to.


Paul Ivsin
paul at ivsin.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Thom Harrison" <tharriso at MAIL.MACONSTATE.EDU>
Sent: Friday, September 28, 2001 7:43 AM
Subject: "Pre-owned,""near miss," "s/he"

The possible conflict in meanings of "pre-owned"--that is, "someone did
something before s/he owned it" vs. "used"--is that analogous to the
formerly common "near miss"?

"Near miss" looks like it ought to mean that someone almost missed
something but hit it after all, while it was used to mean that someone
almost hit something but missed it after all.

By the way, is there any consensus these days on the non-gender-specific
pronoun to agree with "someone"?  I see "s/he" in emails, but outside
academics "they" seems to be the choice by default.


Thom Harrison
Macon State College

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