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Thread: up in smoke

  1. #1
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    Default up in smoke

    Do you hear it where you live? What does it mean?

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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Do you hear it where you live? What does it mean?
    The exact meaning would depend on the context.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The exact meaning would depend on the context.
    Could you elaborate please?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Could you elaborate please?
    If my house goes up in smoke, it is completely burnt out. If my career plans go up in smoke, they disappear/are destroyed

  5. #5
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Could you elaborate please?
    I'm surprised that 5jj let this pass. The point of his first answer was to say that no word has a single and unchanging meaning without a context; and it's the job of someone who wants to understand a word to explain the context where s/he has met it. 5jj was saying 'We can't tell you without knowing more.' To respond to that with 'Could you elaborate please?' might be interpreted as disrespectful.

    You will presumably have guessed from 5jj's second answer that the common element in those two meanings is 'destruction'. If the usage is concrete, the smoke is real and comes from an explosion or a fire of some sort. If the usage is figurative, the smoke is metaphorical. (The two, of course, can be mixed together: 'As I watched the letter curl up and burst into flames in the dying embers of the fire I was seeing my dreams go up in smoke.' [Which reminds me: you can also say 'go up in flames' - usually, I think, with a more definite concrete meaning.)

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 26-Feb-2011 at 16:34.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    I sincerely apologize. I intended no disrespect at all.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I'm surprised that 5jj let this pass. The point of his first answer was to say that no word has a single and unchanging meaning without a context; and it's the job of someone who wants to understand a word to explain the context where s/he has met it. 5jj was saying 'We can't tell you without knowing more.' To respond to that with 'Could you elaborate please?' might be interpreted as disrespectful.
    Probus caught me at one of those incredibly rare moments when I was feeling sweet-natured and tolerant. Treasure it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    I sincerely apologize. I intended no disrespect at all.
    I am sure you didn't, and it's not a problem.

    However, it was useful that Bob pointed this out. Sometimes one can give offence in a different language/culture without any intention of doing so.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Asking someone to elaborate, complete with the word "please", is disrespectful? What's this forum for?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: up in smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by Vidor View Post
    Asking someone to elaborate, complete with the word "please", is disrespectful? What's this forum for?
    It is not, in itself, disrespectful. Read BobK's first paragraph again. Note the he wrote that it "might be interpreted as disrespectful", not that it was disrespectful.

    Bob probably assumed (as I did, though I ignored it) that probus had reacted to my mention of context by asking me to elaborate, i.e give a full answer to his original question. If, so, it was not very tactful. It is of course possible that Probus merely asked me to elaborate on what I meant by The exact answer would depend on the context. If that was the case, then Bob addressed that point in the first three lines of his answer.

    I have pointed out to some people that the use of 'kindly' as a synonym for 'please' gives a rather officious tone to the message that the writer almost certainly did not intend. I feel that learners can benefit from having this pointed out to them.

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