Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The semantics of need

Sometimes you think the things you oughtn't to think.

Yesterday I went to Subway to get my lunch. The bloke ahead of me was a BIG bloke. I'd guess he was at least 25 kilos overweight. When it was his turn to order he said something along the lines of...

'I need a footlong with the lot'.

And what went through my head in response was 'mate - that's about the last thing you need!'

Which highlights how different English speaking cultures use common words in different ways. Within my first week living here with my new family Morgan would ask me to drive her somewhere. But the way she asked didn't feel right. She'd say 'Rob, you need to drive me to wherever'. I let this go the first two or three times but eventually took her to task. 'No Morgan, I don't NEED to take you anywhere. You need ME to take you there'. It took her a few days to understand how I saw the word need.

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