A student contacted me about the phrase 'quantum leap', which she had seen in a text she was reading at work. Her sense told her it meant a big step, but her dictionary only told her that quantum was the smallest discrete quantity of a physical property. She had run into a dreaded contranym.
There is something dreadfully unfair about using a word in a way completely different from its dictionary definition, especially when it is primarily down to ignorance. I doubt that anyone who says wicked meaning great is unaware of the dictionary definition, but many have little idea about quantum mechanics and are unaware of the contradiction in the phrase. When she asked for an explanation, I could come up with little better than perfidious Albion. For a Japanese student, it must appear little short of insane that we use this phrase in such an underhand way.
Categories: Asian Blog