Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That is not what I meant!

Ever said something to someone, only to have your words come back in a different way to what you meant? Unfortunately it happens quite often, which is why we should always be careful of, not just what we say, but sometimes of what clarification we don’t say with it. For instance I recently heard the following story. I have no idea of the veracity or otherwise of it, so am just using it as an example, without affirming its ‘bona fides’ or otherwise. Anyway the story goes:
“It's said that the king of Saudi Arabia once invited a famous golfer over for a tournament. Before the man returned home the king said, 'I'd like to give you a gift. Anything you want; name it.' The golfer declined politely, saying he didn't need anything. But the king was adamant, so he conceded, 'Well, Your Highness, I collect golf clubs.' He imagined perhaps a gold putter or a diamond-studded driver. Imagine his shock weeks later when he got a letter containing the deed to a 2 000-acre (about 900 ha) golf club!”
Now that is a misunderstanding of meanings that I could accept, but usually, most misunderstandings don’t work out well at all and usually lead to confusion, misunderstanding and sometimes even hostility and violence.
So when speaking always remember that, particularly in English there are often more than one meaning for words or expressions. Such as the above noted “golf club/Golf club”. What additional confusing words can you add?

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