Re: forked tongues

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 14:06:43 EST

At 2:04 PM -0500 2/17/00, L. J. Swain wrote:
>I'm not sure "ambivalent" is a good word. Well, let me say that
>ambivalent is actually the perfect word, but I've noted that most of my
>colleagues, even well educated ones, assume that ambivalent is a synonym
>for apathetic, which of course it isn't. *SIGH* So the question is
>whether to choose the perfect English word that few will understand or
>go for a less fitting word that gets the point across, not that I have a
>real suggestion on that score.

Yes, the dilemma: say exactly what you mean and then suspect that only the
few will understand it, or say something less than you mean and hope that
the many will understand "more or less" what you mean. Pindar said
something once about being a SOFOS speaking to the SUNETOIS.

But of course I really DO agree with you, Larry. It is better, I guess, to
be only HALF-misunderstood than COMPLETELY misunderstood.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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