Posted by languageandgrammar on January 9, 2011
By now, most of use have heard Tucker Carlson’s (of Fox News) opinion on quarterback Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting: He thought that Vick should have been executed. What most of us might not have heard, however, is his backpedaling on the statement.
Carlson said, “…I overspoke….”
Overspoke? I’m not sure what overspoke means. Did he mean that he’d said something that he doesn’t believe but said it because he was just trying to play to Fox’s radical right-wing base? Did he say something that he does believe but that he now knows he should have kept to himself because it’s considered bizarre by most people? The most logical assumption is that he meant that he’d said too much. After all, when you overeat, it means that you ate too much.When you oversleep, it means that you slept too much and missed, for example, an appointment.
But in that sense, what was too much? Did he think that he’d used too many words?
This is yet another example of the disconnect that can occur between speaker and listener when the speaker makes up a word instead of using perfectly good veteran words that are part of the English language. Even dictionary.com, which has never met a non-word it hasn’t liked, doesn’t embrace overspoke (yet).
Carlson seemed to be making up a word in order to avoid taking responsibility for a radical opinion. Instead of saying I overspoke, he should have said what he meant—–whatever that was.
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