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  1. Member
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    meanings of "tangential" and "practised"

    I'm reading The Muse by Jessie Burton and I'm confused about her use of some adjectives. For example, when she is describing a woman who is used to smoking and ordering meals from a restaurant by telephone, she says that:

    "Marjorie seemed born to all this, to the smoking and the telephone orders, the tangential observations."

    The dictionary says "tangential" means "only superficially relevant; divergent", but I don't understand what it means in this context. Does it mean that Marjorie notices irreleveant details? The author also describes Marjorie as someone who "insisted on skirting her own truths whilst getting to the core of yours." Does "tangential observations" have something to do with that characteristic of hers?

    Besides, when the author is describing a man whose mother just died, she says that:

    "He spoke well, and he talked of his stepfather and the house and his divorced, dead mother with a practised world-weariness that I wasn’t sure he was trying to escape or keep alive."

    The dictionary says "practised" means "very good at doing something because you have a lot of experience of doing it" and "world-weary" means "Tired of or bored with life, often with a negative or jaded attitude", but I don't understand the idea of "practised world-weariness". Does it mean he is used to show a weary attitude?

    Can anybody help me understand the ideas of "tangential" and "practised" in those contexts?

  2. Editor,
    English Teacher
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    Re: meanings of "tangential" and "practised"

    1 Observations that may seem indirect or not related. It may be something to do with class structure- she belongs to a class that make observations that don't seem very relevant to outsiders.

    2 It suggests that his emotions are not very genuine- an act he uses, but one that he may want to keep or drop.

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