[Ads-l] Unusual "to qualfiy" -- "to characterize (or to accuse) as bad", rather than good?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Tue Aug 25 14:28:43 UTC 2015

Anglade qualified the Thalys personnel behavior as “inhuman” and “terrible.”

In "French Actor Caught in Thalys Attack Offers Firsthand Account, Accuses Train Staff of "Inhuman" Behavior", by Jordan Mintzer, _The Hollywood Reporter_ (online).

A neutral "to qualify" is sanctioned by the OED in sense 1.a, "To describe or designate in a particular way; to characterize as something; to name", with quotations as recently as 2001.  And there is at least one quotation where the characterization is negative:

1919   J. Reed Ten Days that shook World iii. 64,   I qualify such acts of a Russian political party as acts of treason to Russia!

But nowadays, it seems to me, "to qualify" has a positive connotation, of achieving a level of competence, as in senses 4, 5, and 7.  (Or II, "To modify or moderate in some respect", as in senses 8 and 9; but that is not the meaning here.)

Note that the headline takes "qualified" to be "accused".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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