Wordplay in English Language
This is all about Wordplay and Context
Meanings in English can be very subtle - context and slight variations make a difference
I've always loved playing with words - I learned that at my father's knee - he was a very bright lawyer and people told me he was a genius. So, of course, he was very quick on the uptake, and puns were second nature to him. He was also a stickler for accuracy, and would pick up the slightest nuance and turn it round in a humorous but educational way. He encouraged me to read a lot, and by the age of 12 I was already pouring over his technical medico-legal journals and other law magazines. It's not surprising, given these beginnings, that my ambition was to become a lawyer like my father. And so it came to pass - it took a long time for me to achieve my potential, and, sadly, he was no longer around to see me pass my law exams and qualify as a solicitor. Why am I telling you this? Because of course, words were in effect my stock-in-trade as a lawyer.
Now for some examples of wordplay:
I might, for instance, say "Pakistan plays a mean game of cricket".
The usual understanding for this phrase would be that "the Pakistan team play very well".
However, in the context of disgraceful events in Summer 2010 at Lords Cricket Ground in London, the phrase "Pakistan plays a mean game of cricket" could have an entirely different interpretation, namely that "the Pakistan Cricket team play unfairly (or aggressively)".
And to add another level of confusion, you could say "That's not cricket", which means that it is "not fair or honourable". So you might say that what the Pakistani team did was "not cricket" (even though they were playing cricket).
I can see why people learning English might find this a little confusing.
You Might Find This Helpful: The Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms - Excellent whether you are a native English speaker, or are learning English as a Second L
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I have several other Oxford Dictionaries, and find them very useful and helpful. This particular dictionary was recommended to me by someone who has taught English as a Second Language for many years
And what does the word "mean"imply?
"Mean" has so many meanings (forgive the pun)!
I would say "unfair" in the context of my sentence above and that historic Pakistani cricket scandal.
But if you say "I mean to tell you something"", the word "mean" translates as"intend".
It can also mean "parsimonious, unwilling to give". An example would be "he is too mean to give a tip to the waiter".
And yet another meaning is "the average value of a set of quantities" or "equal distance from two points".
What exactly is a "Nice Distinction"?
(as opposed to any other kind of distinction)?
If I say "there is a nice distinction", this means "there is a very subtle distinction".
Whereas if I say "there is a distinction", this means "there is a noticeable difference or contrast".
Would we have so much cheating if the only prize for doing well is a medal or lots of praise? Are we too uptight about sport now that it is big business, or are sportsmen merely pawns in a game which has swept them up so that other people can make money out of them?
Take a vote and See how you match up to other voters
TAKE THIS POLL - Is Money Ruining Sport?
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I've got this book - it's surprisingly esmerizing - you'd never think it's just about punctuation, because it's really fun to read
I've got the English version of this -
it's brilliant, and so helpful when you are searching
for meanings, double meanings and distinctions
"The Game of Cricket, 1790" - you can buy this poster on Amazon - this is the famous cricket poster that you saw in my introduction
I love this painting, so expressive of the game of cricket and the atmosphere - even though it was painted over 200 years ago, it is almost timeless
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