Monday, July 28, 2008

Definitive Delight

I hope we all operate linguistically with the knowledge of the difference between definite and definitive.

These words have distinct meanings. That which is definite has fixed or marked limits in signification, is bounded with precision; hence determinate; certain; precise. Definitive describes positive, conclusive final. A definitive decision admits no change; a definite meaning is one so precisely defined that it could not be misunderstood.

And while I am at it, I believe the continued success of English speaking Western Civilization hinges on our ability to to use the word momentarily correctly. Pilots and telephone message recording ladies everywhere, heed:

Momentarily -- what it's not:

It is not a fancy way to say "in a moment." Momentarily means "for a moment."

With hope, you are not "landing the plane momentarily," for if you are, no one will be able to get off of it, and let's pray, major corporations everywhere, that someone will not be with your callers "momentarily" for your customer service will be so poor that the entire United States, even the Republicans, will be on the phone to India or China for goods and services. Oh, wait we already are.

Rather, say, "This shot will only hurt momentarily," and "I thought, momentarily, of bringing him home to meet my parents, but then I realized he was a cad."

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