Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Question of English Usage...

Here is a passage presented to us:

I thought we had finished with the subject of your wanting to become a writer when you passed through New York last April. You asked for what you called "an uncle's meddling advice," and we spent an afternoon talking about your chances of commercial or critical success (nil and next to none), about the number of readers that constitutes the American audience for literature (not enough to fill the seats at Yankee Stadium), and about the Q ratings awarded to authors by the celebrity market (equivalent to those assigned to trick dogs and retired generals). You didn't disagree with the drift of the conversation, and I thought it was understood that you would apply to business school.

The graders of the PSAT/NMSQT say that the tone of the parenthetical comments is best characterized as "wry." We in this house agree--unanimously--that "surly" is a better characterization. They are not dryly humorous with a touch of irony. They are, rather, sullenly ill-humored.

Or so we think. Do we speak the same language spoken by others, or rather our own private dialect?

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