FW: Same sound, opposite meaning

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Thu May 9 02:38:12 UTC 2002

On Wed, 8 May 2002, Robert Fitzke wrote:

#One that is often used by sportswriters is "verbal". It means both written
#and oral. It is often used to describe a recruit's commitment where the
#difference between a written commitment and an oral commitment is critical.

I don't agree. "Verbal" in the strict and original sense and my usage
includes written and oral language; in sloppyXXXXXX common present use
it refers to oral language only, explicitly opposed to written. This is
a case of multiple levels of specificity, like "cow" meaning '(mature)
member of the genus Bos' versus 'female mature member of ...'. "Verbal"
would resemble the "same sound, opposite meaning" pattern if it were
sometimes used to mean 'oral, not written' and sometimes to mean
'written, not oral'.  But it isn't.

-- Mark A. Mandel

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