[OT] sentances with two meanings

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.net
Wed Jul 16 18:21:22 CEST 2003

Duncan Booth <duncan at NOSPAMrcp.co.uk> wrote in message news:<Xns93B99C8B951A6duncanrcpcouk at>...
> To "take someone in" means to trick or deceive them.

[Dictionary reference]

> take someone in 1 to include them. 2 to give them accommodation or shelter. 
> 3 to deceive or cheat them.

English is a great language to confuse people with when one considers
different verb/preposition combinations, especially when some of them
are used for slang purposes. Anyway, to elaborate on the above:

  A. "I couldn't take it (all) in," refers to the observation of
      events or quite commonly some kind of sensory experience. This
      is only ever used with passive objects or events, though.

  B. "The vicar was completely taken in by the deception." (Note that
      this has subtle differences from...

     "The vicar was completely taken by the idea."

      ...which may indicate enthusiasm or obsession.)

  C. "After trying all his other acquaintances, it was the bishop who
      finally took him in." (This means that the bishop offered
      accommodation or shelter, and not that the bishop was behind an
      elaborate or ambitious deception.)

I'm sure other alternatives exist, some with dubious meanings. :-)

I suppose this goes to show that "modifiers" which change the
behaviour of known "operations" (frequently in subtle ways) can be
impediments to the understanding of a language. It could be
interesting to consider whether Python, as an artificial language,
manages to successfully avoid such possibilities for confusion.


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