Monday, April 28, 2008

The weekly bon mot

"This is one of the disadvantages of wine. It makes a man mistake words for thoughts."

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

And not only wine, of course.

It is one of the curious quirks of the Chinese that, since their language has only the one word - jiu - to denote alcoholic liquors, they are incapable of differentiating between different types and strengths of drink when speaking English. They have got it into their heads that jiu means 'wine', and thus all alcoholic beverages are "a kind of wine". "Do you know what Jack Daniel's/Guinness/a pina colada is?" I often ask my students. "Oh, yes," they always eagerly reply, "a kind of wine."

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