Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reflections on Commonwealth Games athletes' village

Why is the English language so confusing?

According to an Indian minister, the athletes' village is 'habitable'. As I have always used the word 'inhabitable' to mean 'liveable', I thought he made a mistake. So I checked the dictionary. As it turns out, both words - 'habitable' and 'inhabitable' mean the same thing! But I thought that usually the suffix 'in-' is used to transform a word to its opposite meaning. No, in this peculiar case, the antonym is 'uninhabitable'.

I can't help thinking, the minister made a strategic decision in his choice of word by avoiding the least hint of the negative suffix. Whether the athletes' village is actually 'uninhabitable' or 'inhabitable', he declares without ambiguity, it is 'habitable'.

3 comments:

furrybutts said...

Gee.. I used to think 'inhabitable' was the opposite of 'habitable' too!

tigerfish said...

Now I am confused. I did not even noticed!

Clare @ Mrs Multitasker said...

Haha. Brilliant. Such valuable insight. I mean invaluable. I mean...