January 26, 2007

Another cultural difference

I just had an interesting conversation with El Jefe that pointed out another cultural difference. (Yes, we have many. It's an ongoing process working on that!) He was saying that he really didn't like something a friend had said.

The friend said, "I hate people who ...." and the rest is not important. Let's just substitute, "who park their car in the street" or something silly like that.

El Jefe's point was that the friend should have said, "I hate WHEN people ...." I was surprised at his strong reaction. I'm often guilty of doing the same thing − saying I hate green cars or warm Coke or fat men who don't wear shirts, when I really mean something much less strong than 'hate.'

An online dictionary gives the following (partial) definition:
–verb (used with object)
1. to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.
2. to be unwilling; dislike: I hate to do it.
I think in everyday English, the word has become diluted, at least by some of us. When I use the word 'hate,' I'm usually thinking of 'dislike or feel aversion for' without the 'intensely, passionately, and extreme' modifiers. I never thought for a minute that the friend was saying that he hated anyone, but El Jefe took offense.

Of course, I immediately thought back to the million times I've said I hate something or "someone who...." and started wondering what he thought. One more thing to work on!
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