[lit-ideas] Re: When you were in Oxford, did you dine in college?

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 19:37:34 +0000 (GMT)

 From: "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" <Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx>

"Michael once explained that he made a  telephone call only to be put through 
to the answering machine. He 
observed:  “They call it an answering machine but it’s not. You can ask it 
questions, but  it won’t give you any answers.”"

Did no one ever say, "Michael, but they don't call it a 'question-answering 
machine'"? It answers a phone call in the sense that it connects the caller to 
a device that allows the caller to leave a message. That is why most people 
understand the expression 'answering machine' without thinking that it is there 
to answer questions asked of it and are not so foolish to even try (as you 
appear to). Often even when humans 'answer the phone' they only do so to get 
information or take a message and do not answer any questions: perhaps you 
would also like to take issue with the expression 'answer the phone' on the 
basis that no questions are necessarily answered by whoever picks up the 
receiver, so how do they answer the phone? And indeed the phone itself is 
simply a vehicle of communication that itself does not communicate, so it is 
doubly wrong an expression as we do not answer the phone but respond to the 
person ringing. I would climb the stairs to bed at
 this point rather than indulge you further in this witless quibbling except no 
doubt you will say it is untrue that I 'climb' as, in fact, I use only the 
soles of my feet and in effect 'walk up' the stairs. Unfortunately, Michael, 
you have typically failed to notice something important - how absolutely pissed 
I am. I shall climb.

Master of Ordinary Language (2nd dan)

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