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  1. VIP Member
    Student or Learner
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Bulgarian
      • Home Country:
      • Bulgaria
      • Current Location:
      • Bulgaria

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
    • Posts: 5,000

    handicap = encumber

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am on the right way with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following brief excerpt from the O.Henry’s “A Cosmopolite in a Caffe”?

    "Excuse me," said he, "but that's a question I never like to hear asked. What does it matter where a man is from? Is it fair to judge a man by his post-office address? Why, I've seen Kentuckians who hated whiskey, Virginians who weren't descended from Pocahontas, Indianians who hadn't written a novel, Mexicans who didn't wear velvet trousers with silver dollars sewed along the seams, funny Englishmen, spendthrift Yankees, cold-blooded Southerners, narrow-minded Westerners, and New Yorkers who were too busy to stop for an hour on the street to watch a one-armed grocer's clerk do up cranberries in paper bags. Let a man be a man and don't handicap him with the label of any section."

    I know the meaning of “handicap” = “to cause to be at a disadvantage; impede” but in my humble opinion there is a better verb in the present case in my native language namely “burden”, encumber”.

    encumber (v) = to hinder or impede the action or performance of

    Thank you for your efforts.



  2. oregeezer's Avatar
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Thailand

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 347

    Re: handicap = encumber

    Well, O'Henry must have preferred "handicap" since I'm sure he was familiar with "encumber". Perhaps the choice has somethig to do with the character who is doing the speaking.


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