Monday, June 18, 2007

TOEFL Tutoring

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Funny Word

I wonder if any of you word lovers have noticed this curious phenomenon. The word oversight seems to have two meanings that are pretty much opposites. I had thought this was a new phenomenon, a Bushism, a sort of doublespeak. But I've just looked it up in my trusty American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1969 (and still great!), and found that indeed, these two usages are listed one after another as the legitimate definitions of the word--without any comment as to the weirdness of the situation. I quote:
oversight 1. an unintentional omission or mistake. 2. Watchful care or management; supervision. -- See Synonyms at error.
And when I look at error, I find this: "Oversight refers to an omission or a faulty act that results from one's lack of attention."
I hear this word a lot lately in the news, usually referring to the Americans' management of the situation in Iraq. It's interesting, because the speaker or writer is usually using the word in the sense of definition #2, yet #1 often comes to mind.