X marrying Y <> Y marrying X?

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Sep 11 17:32:42 UTC 2007

On 9/11/07, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> I wasn't thinking of that particular tape.  I was recalling testimony
> by Clinton, not Lewinsky, to which N. Y. Times op-ed columnist
> Maureen Dowd was referring in her column of 9/16/98:
> The president admits trying to mislead Paula Jones' lawyers, but
> denies lying under oath. He admits Monica had sex with him, but
> denies he had sex with Monica. He denies that oral sex (the second
> word of which is sex) is sex.

Reminds me of the complaints last year about classifying Pluto as a
"dwarf planet" but not a "planet"...

> I forget (or rather "have no recollection of") the occasions on which
> these various admissions and denials took place.

Well, Clinton rather famously testified that "I have not had sex with
her as I defined it." I don't know of any testimony where he "admits
Monica had sex with him," so the putative asymmetry may simply be a
Dowdian creation.

--Ben Zimmer

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

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