Monday, February 9, 2009

Language is important

Off and on? You have heard the expression "the alarm went off"?  It never occurred to me that this expression could cause a problem.  My little french wife made this expression a problem.  it all started when the check engine light went " on".  
To be "on"  meaning lit, meaning a possible problem. 
After a couple of days the check went "off".
I told the little French lady that the light went "off" in her car. She says, "Does this mean that the engine light is "on"? 
After a confusing and convoluted conversation we got to the source of the problem. Apparently the little French lady did not grasp the concept of an alarm clock,  for example, going "off"  means that the alarm is "on". why the logic of this concept would confuse someone is beyond my meager comprehension.
She says," French has rules, English does not have rules. What kind of language says just the opposite of what it means?"
"What you talking about , Willis?" I asked.
"Well we don't park on the parkway, we drive.  We don't  drive in the driveway. We park."
She had me there.

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