Nov 6, 1980  Sense and Nonsense

There is often a bit of humour in even the most serious statements uttered by seemingly earnest individuals. The English language is a natural vehicle for expressing ambiguous opinions and phraseologies.

How about the silver-penned newsman who reported on the spectacular rescue of six American ambassadors from Iran last year? His … “They escaped, disguised as Canadians” has to be one of the most unforgettable quotes of the year!

When the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was front page news, some American liquor vendors were filmed patriotically pouring Russian vodka by the bottle-full down the drains. One onlooker was aghast. He prayerfully blurted out, “God, I hope we never go to war with Scotland!”

Our usually eloquent weatherman on a local radio station was caught with his predictions “up” and the mercury “down” one frigid January morning. I heard him mutter his excuses. …”Just a small high this time…” followed by a confused and barely audible. “An absence of heat did it.”

Even the R.C.M.P. is not above issuing confusing statements. (Confusing to the layman anyway) After a prisoner escaped from jail the following warning was broadcast on the radio: “He is not considered dangerous but should be approached with caution.” (I suppose in police terminology, “approach” isn’t a casual word?)

Perhaps the receiving apparatus in my mind is faulty but I giggle every time I hear the Red Cross announcing to the public that “over half of your heat loss is through your head!”

Our daughter and her husband live on some property which, until recently, was one in a series of lakeside tourist facilities. I was once asked directions to their home by some people who were vaguely familiar with the area. I have difficulty being explicit when it comes to giving directions.

I often envy those born and raised on the prairies. Prairie people nonchalantly use words like “northeast”, “south” and “west” and they always seem to know exactly where those directions lie. I use phrases such as “down the road a piece” and “turn left, right past the cattle guard”.

As usual I thoroughly confused my inquirers. I did however impart some pertinent (though unfair) information.

“You’ve been past their place before,” I advised. “It’s the second to last resort.”

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