Old word gets new meaning
Yes, it's time for an exciting new episode of Evolving English! For 14 billion years, since the BBC invented English to report the Big Bang, the word 'accident' meant "unwanted, unintended incident".
But in recent days, it has dramatically changed its meaning. Consider the evidence.
1) Hong Kong rich dude Albert Lam Kwong-yu, facing insider trading charges last week, told the court he'd done it by accident.
Try to picture doing something like that by mistake: oops, my fingers accidentally hit the keyboard in such a way as to log into my trading accounts; oops, accidentally located shares about which I have just received inside information; oops, accidentally purchased a large number.
2) At the same time on the other side of the planet, a UK inquest into the death of a football team manager who hanged himself in his garage concluded that it too was possibly an accident.
No disrespect to the coroner, but how would that work? Oops, set up a noose; oops, put my head into it; oops, asphyxiating myself; oops, forgetting to stop.
3) Over on the celebrity pages, Clark Gable (grandson of the film star) was last week caught shining a laser beam at a police helicopter pilot overhead.
'It was an accident,' he told officers.
What about the second and third times?
They were ALSO accidents, he said.
4) But the king of them all, of course, is Captain Francesco Schettino, who 'accidentally' left his sinking ship before several hundred passengers. Oops, ran down the gangplank; oops, beat off dozens of little old ladies; oops, got into the lifeboat first; oops, escaped; oops, grabbed a cab to go buy some Chianti to celebrate.
Clearly the word 'accident' now means 'far-fetched scenario that I hope against all logic will get me off the hook'.
Incidentally, court reports often baffle me.
Some years ago, the head and body of Japanese gangster Tadayoshi Koshi were found separately in the Yamato River, Osaka. The court ruled this was 'suicide.'
It must take a REALLY tough guy to cut his own head off.
Paula Abdul has just been fired from The X Factor. So what? Who the hell cares except pathetic desperate bloggers/ newspaper columnists who'll use it to fill an inch or two of their dumb columns.
In a bid to make their subway trains super-clean like ones in Hong Kong, Tokyo, etc., US police said they will levy a US$250 fine on everyone caught eating on New York trains. Muggings, robberies or murders will still be free of charge.
A law has just been passed making it a criminal offence to use mobile phones in North Korea, my Asian geopolitical correspondent tells me. This would be big news for citizens, if they had mobile phones.
I believe most are still at the tin-can-and-string level of communications technology, thanks to the fact that the Kim dynasty needs all the country's money to feed the family's pizza habit.
Silver lining: can-and-string users get significantly fewer telemarketing calls.
In Family News, a woman in the US state of Iowa last week gave birth to a 13-pound baby. The report didn't say what she was going to call it. How about 'Owww'?
Lots of very wise comments on the gender issues discussion in the previous post. Here's a smattering of the best of them:
Liftie: 'I think Grandpa's language can tell us what foods are male and female: steak is male (le steak), sausage is female (la sausage), yoghurt is gender-neutral (l'yoghurt).'
Jason: 'Vegetables are for women and rabbits. Give me a steak, arrrgghh. Now, find me a village to pillage.'
Paul: 'Considering that Yin [‰A] relates to femininity and shadow (maybe even eye-shadow), with all the product ads out in public spaces, men need to do all they can to keep their Yang [—z] up.'
Liftie: 'Real men eat only male foods. Or would that be gay? Should it be real men eat only female food?'
Grandpa: 'There should be a law so that only gender neutral toys are allowed; like toy airplanes and flight simulators.'
Lynne: 'Not say EVERY girl fits the 'girl' mode, nor EVERY boy the 'boy' mode. But certainly about 85% would be correct.'
Peter: 'No point worrying about anyone's gender, as an increasing number of states are legalising same-sex marriage.'
Mike: 'Do you know one difference between men and women? To socialize, men will insult each other, but don't mean it. While women will compliment each other, but don't mean it.'
Have a great day.