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LITOTES

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LITOTES

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:14 am

• litotes •

Pronunciation: li-tê-teez or lay-to-teez • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A figure of speech that is a negative understatement to emphasize the opposite, as an investment that is not without risk.

Notes: Today's Good Word does not change in the plural: many litotes. An expression that uses litotes is litotic and, yes, you may speak litotically. Litotes is the opposite of hyperbole, rhetorical exaggeration. It is one side of an interesting characteristic of language: the negation of an opposite is more positive than the negation of the positive itself. For example, in the series, (1) good, (2) not bad, (3) not good, (4) bad, notice that not good, implies WORSE than "not bad". In fact, not bad means rather good and not good means rather bad!

In Play: Litotes is often used to soften the blow of an uncomfortable truth, as when your friend says that your blind date is "not unattractive". So, he is not attractive but that is better than "not attractive". Litotes can also reflect an ironic emphasis in reverse: "While I wasn't looking forward to the reception, the people there made it not at all unpleasant." Of course, the classic example of litotes is Queen Victoria's remark, "We are not amused." Not too shabby an example of litotes, eh?

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken pretty much 'as is' from Greek litotes "simplicity", the noun from litos "smooth, plain, simple". The Greek root is based on PIE *(s)lei- "flat, slippery" which also is behind Latin limos "slime". That is also probably it there in linere "to anoint", the root of English liniment. In the Germanic languages this root picked up an [s], so we get English slime, slick, slice, and slip. However, we find that [s] in other languages, too: Old Irish sleman "smooth" and Latvian slieka "earthworm". (Today we would like to thank Good Word subscriber Lew Jury for suggesting a term that is not at all uninteresting.)
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Postby M. Henri Day » Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:37 pm

Inte illa !

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby tcward » Wed Dec 21, 2005 6:20 pm

Aunt Eller??

Image

-Tim ;)
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Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Dec 22, 2005 4:59 pm

As for me, I'm all for gun-control (surprise, surprise !)....

Henri
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Postby tcward » Thu Dec 22, 2005 5:53 pm

As long as I have the right to bare puns, I'm happy.

-Tim
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:12 pm

M. Henri Day wrote:As for me, I'm all for gun-control (surprise, surprise !)....

Henri


Gun control means being able to put most of your rounds in the bulls-eye, Henri.
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:13 pm

tcward wrote:As long as I have the right to bare puns, I'm happy.

-Tim


PETA is worried about their right to arm bears . . .
Regards//Larry

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Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Dec 22, 2005 6:35 pm

From what I know of bears, they're pretty powerfully armed already, PETA or no PETA. No se meta conmigo....

Henri
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:08 pm

No se meta conmigo, hahahahahaha.

But if you want it to sound even more threatening, say No te metas conmigo.

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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:43 pm

No matter which alternative a bear were to choose with me, BD, I'd consider it more than sufficiently threatening ! But thanks for the pointer !...

Henri

PS : How does it go in Portuguese ?...
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Dec 25, 2005 1:47 pm

Não se meta comigo/Não te metas comigo. In Portugal they spell it conmigo, like in Spanish.

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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Dec 25, 2005 2:04 pm

Thanks, BD ! I'll try to recognise the phrase if I ever meet an aggressive Portuguese/Brazilian bear !...

Henri
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Postby Brazilian dude » Sun Dec 25, 2005 2:21 pm

There are some interesting expletives you can defend yourself with, which, for the sake of discretion, I'll PM to you on demand.

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