Let's Speak English

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Even if your careless when driving your car and have a head-on smash, killing a couple of people, all you say to the judge is "I am SORRY" and you'll walk out a free man. But I take no responsibility if "I'm SORRY" doesn't always work. It's safer not to have the accident.

RECENT and MODERN are two other adjectives that are often confused. RECRNT applies to things that happened a short time ago; MODERN to things that still exist and are not old-fashioned. A progressive ruler has MODERN, not RECENT ideas. But an earthquake that occurred last month was a RECENT earthquake. You can't say it was a MODERN earthquake. Earthquakes are never MODERN: they're as old as the hills.

Occasionally you find something that's both RECENT and MODERN. For example, a theory can be both RECENT and MODERN if it was recently discovered and is not old-fashioned. There's a MODERN theory in Palestine about deficits. In most countries a deficit is a disgrace. But in Palestine it's something to be worked for. If you haven't got a deficit you can't get a loan. So in Palestine a deficit is really a source of income.

Let's now turn to four words PARTICULAR, SPECIAL, PRIVATE and PERSONAL. PARTICULAR refers to something purposely selected and set apart from other things. At this PARTICULAR moment I'm sitting in the Jerusalem broadcasting studios enjoying myself immensely.

Talking of broadcasting, please remember that anything over the wireless is a broadcast - not a broadcasting. And that the difference between 'radio' and 'wireless' is that 'radio' is used in American and 'wireless' in English.

Now if PARTICULAR means something purposely selected, SPECIAL is something exceptional. If I write an urgent letter, I send it by a special messenger, not an ordinary messenger who has other letters to deliver. I may choose a PARTICULAR messenger - Ali or Moshe or John - to be the SPECIAL messenger. Do you see the difference?

PRIVATE is something of one's own, not for the public. I'd like to have a PRIVATE yacht but, so far, all I've got is a PRIVATE bicycle. You can say "My house is PRIVATE" but nobody'll believe you in Palestine. In Palestine no-one thinks anything of ringing you up on business at midnight: and you mustn't be at all surprised to find half a dozen complete strangers having a meeting in your dining room. It's all right! They only forgot to let you know.

PERSONAL is even more individual. A PERSONAL letter is distinct from a business letter and is meant to be opened only by the person to whom it's addressed, not by the office boy. A PERSONAL letter addressed to a Government official, however, is usually from someone who wants a job. I once received a PERSONAL letter written by a man not quite at ease in English. He had obviously consulted a dictionary and had put in the corner of the envelope the unfortunate word 'Selfish'.

Let' s now consider the words UGLY, CLUMSY an AWKWARD. They're all rather the same. When I was a boy at school, I'm sure I was UGLY and CLUMSY and AWKWARD I'm pretty much the same to-day; that's why I !alk to you over the wireless and not at a meeting. I'd hate to spoil your illusions.


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