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11 August 2008

Don't Look Back in Disdain

Poor old Liam Gallagher. He's obviously missing his spot in the limelight as Britpop's bad boy, although a measured version thereof. "I’ve mellowed, but not in the sense of liking Radiohead or Coldplay," he assures [Xfm]. "I don’t hate them. I don’t wish they had accidents. I think their fans are boring and ugly and they don’t look like they’re having a good time."

I particularly like the part where he says, "I don't wish they had accidents," which, of course, makes you think that is exactly what he was imagining. Of course, the real question is that as someone who is pretty keen on Radiohead but can't stand most of Coldplay, where does that leave me? Does that make me ugly, boring, both or neither?

Being boring, this reminds me of a sentence I came across in a lecture on ambiguity and quantified expressions (preddikut lodgike - oh noes!), which I couldn't remember but which extensive Google searching (combined with a vague recollectionof the sentence) allowed me to rediscover:

Three fanatics have submitted four articles on the race issue to five dailies.

This example, from Kempson & Cormack 1981, is apparently 19-way ambiguous, although it hurts my head trying to work out all the readings; eight is about my limit, on a good day.

And yet the languages of ambiguity, doublespeak and off-record, indirect speech acts are how I best function. Saving face - or allowing others to do so, depending how English I'm feeling - is usually the safest option, if you fear the truth might hurt - or worry - or conflict - the interlocutor that little bit too much. It is, after all, according to Terry Pratchett, "[not] easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than soap, and much more difficult to find..."

Then again, it's unsurprising that the idiolect of a Gallagher brother should spawn such confused mumblings de rerum lingua, given such lyrical gems from Gallagher Major as, "slowly walking down the hall/faster than a canonball." Oh, and maybe I'll be forced to re-evaluate my position as being ugly and/or boring given that Fix You popped up on iTunes and much as I want to hate it and Chris Martin's whiny falsetto, I'm ashamed to admit that I find it rather touching - "stuck in rever-r-r-r-rse" 'n' all.

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