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Thread: smoke myself?

  1. #1
    maoyueh is offline Member
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    smoke myself?

    Is the phrase "smoke myself" an ambiguous term? It seems that "myself" is a cigarette, or weed?

    I quote: "Adolescents who overestimated the prevalence of smoking among their peers were significantly more likely to smoke themselves." Please see Corpus of Contemporary American English.

    Is my quote acceptable, not acceptable, natural or not natural? Thank you a lot.

    maoyueh

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: smoke myself?

    It's fine. "Themselves" refers to "adolescents who overestimated the prevalence of smoking among their peers". It does not refer to "to smoke".

    Lots of people smoke. I smoke myself.
    People who think smoking is cool are more likely to smoke themselves.

    In those cases and in your original example, you can remove the reflexive part and the sentence will still make sense. It will lose a little "je ne sais quoi"!
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: smoke myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by maoyueh View Post
    Is the phrase "smoke myself" an ambiguous term? It seems that "myself" is a cigarette, or weed?
    It strikes me as an invented ambiguity. The chances of someone chopping and drying their own flesh, then rolling it up in a cigarette paper and smoking the cigarette are sufficiently small to exclude it as a real interpretation. Common sense is a good guide to whether something is ambiguous. If something is extremely unlikely, then the ambiguity is not genuine. We tend to go for the most obvious interpretation. Sometimes this isn't clear, which means there's an ambiguity. A one-in-a-billion chance that someone wants to smoke their own muscles is not one of these cases to me- it is casuistry (definition 1).

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    maoyueh is offline Member
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    Re: smoke myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It strikes me as an invented ambiguity. The chances of someone chopping and drying their own flesh, then rolling it up in a cigarette paper and smoking the cigarette are sufficiently small to exclude it as a real interpretation. Common sense is a good guide to whether something is ambiguous. If something is extremely unlikely, then the ambiguity is not genuine. We tend to go for the most obvious interpretation. Sometimes this isn't clear, which means there's an ambiguity. A one-in-a-billion chance that someone wants to smoke their own muscles is not one of these cases to me- it is casuistry (definition 1).
    Hi Tdol,

    Thanks a lot for your insight. If common sense is a good guide, then it's perfect to say "I am going to cook myself today." Am I right? Thanks again. maoyueh

  5. #5
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    Re: smoke myself?

    In addition to its reflexive property this usage of myself, yourself, herself etc. is often a way of adding emphasis, similar to even I, even you, or even she.

    Your yourself have said it isn't true = Even you have said it isn't true.

    He himself admitted it = Even he admitted it.

    Many people doubt that. I myself doubt that. Or: I doubt that myself.
    Last edited by probus; 13-May-2013 at 05:41.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: smoke myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by maoyueh View Post
    Thanks a lot for your insight. If common sense is a good guide, then it's perfect to say "I am going to cook myself today." Am I right?
    As long as you're saying it for a reason. There are some reflexive verbs in English, but not many (pride yourself, for example). We use reflexive verbs for emphasis as Probus said, so in your example, it would work as long as there was a need to emphasise who's doing the cooking. If you cook every day, then it would normally be better without it. We also use reflexive pronouns where a verb can work in two directions- you can hurt someone or yourself.

    Saying things like I dress/shave/wash myself in most cases is unnecessary- you'd need some more context to say why you're giving this emphasis.

  7. #7
    BobK's Avatar
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    Re: smoke myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    ...
    Saying things like I dress/shave/wash myself in most cases is unnecessary- you'd need some more context to say why you're giving this emphasis.
    Continuing this example, and giving some appropriate context: 'After the accident, I couldn't even dress/shave/wash myself.'

    b

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    Re: smoke myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It strikes me as an invented ambiguity. The chances of someone chopping and drying their own flesh, then rolling it up in a cigarette paper and smoking the cigarette are sufficiently small to exclude it as a real interpretation....
    I didn't even consider that ambiguity. I had a momentary vision of someone hanging from the rafters over a hardwood fire in Arbroath.

    b

  9. #9
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: smoke myself?

    The word "smoke", at least in AE, can mean "kill". As in: the gangaster smoked them. I think the author is suggesting that adolescents who smioke are killing themsleves.

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    Re: smoke myself?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    The word "smoke", at least in AE, can mean "kill". As in: the gangaster smoked them. I think the author is suggesting that adolescents who smioke are killing themsleves.
    That interpretation seems extremely unlikely to me in "Adolescents who overestimated the prevalence of smoking among their peers were significantly more likely to smoke themselves." For a start, it's not about 'adolescents who smoke' but about 'Adolescents who overestimated the prevalence of smoking among their peers'.

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