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Words, Aug. 20



Are we there yet?

John Wesley Hall asks “When does the future start?” He quotes Robin Roberts of ABC News' “Good Morning America” talking about the Chevy Volt:

“230 miles per gallon, coming to a garage near you. Not in the future, but perhaps late next year.”


John Wesley Hall believes ordinances should be kept in the clerk's office:

“Dr. Mann was arrested after Pope County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call about military ordinances found on wooded property in London.” —


John Wesley Hall has his eye on WREG, a Memphis television station:

“He faces explosive charges after agents found grenades and 110 fully automatic machine guns on his property.”

If you think the charges are explosive now, wait'll Lou Dobbs gets hold of them.


John Wesley Hall wonders about the “near miss”:

“Is it really a near miss, or a near hit? As in, two airplanes in the sky come too close and it's described as a near miss.” Technically, it's a “near hit,” and a real miss. And the passengers are mighty glad of it. But near miss is used so often in this context, there's not much point in questioning it.

Hall's other entry in the near miss category is more questionable. It's from the Legal Profession Blog: “After police were summoned, Respondent fired a gun at least six times from a second-story window, nearly missing a police officer and striking and damaging a police vehicle.” Nearly missing doesn't count. Respondent will be in big trouble for shooting that police officer.

In this case, the near miss problem may be just an inadvertent use of the wrong word because it sounds similar to the one you wanted. The writer may have intended “narrowly missing a police officer.”


In return for being allowed to fill the Words pulpit this week, John Wesley Hall has agreed to let me represent some of his clients in criminal court. I believe I'm ready for the responsibility; I've watched a lot of Perry Mason. A certain prosecuting attorney in this town is going to look pretty foolish.


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