Thursday, June 14, 2007

Over delaytion

Nothing for weeks and then twice in the same day. Anyhow, driving in I was listening to "The age of persuasion" on CBC. I missed the start, so I'm not sure what the theme was, but then again, I still wasn't really sure at the end. It was something of a grab-bag of anecdotes and observations related to advertising and just like ads, seemed to jump from topic to topic rather promiscuously, although with some hint of an underlying cohesive idea. Anyhow, it's a scripted/edited show, so I was a bit surprised to hear host Bill O'Rielly's explanation for why a new technology is ready but not yet available: "So what's holding up the delay?" he asks rhetorically. "The human factor."

Holding up the delay? This seems to be related to overnegation, but neither hold up nor delay are syntactically negative.

Google only knows of two other instances of "holding up the delay": Denise Quaid saying, "You're always waiting around for something and then when you get there, you find out that what's holding up the delay is that something doesn't work," and this example, in which the speaker self-corrects. "You wanted Mr Burkett to tell Vince Alessandrino that it was the cock-up of the Department of Family and Children Services that was holding up the delay - - that was delaying the settlement?---No, I don't think that's correct. "

All this talk of negation reminds me of the study site for a chapter we've been looking at in my level 6 reading class. It includes review questions, a sadistic number of which are negative. Take the following example:
According to the United Nation's Human Development Index (HDI), China has a better score than all EXCEPT which of the following countries?

How about this instead: "Which of the following countries has a higher HDI score than China?" Can't you avoid writing questions that aren't less difficult than this?

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