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Unusual usage

Regarding "The Battle of THE Books" by James Chandler: I loved every word of it. I was, however, taken aback by one word in the next article, "Search for Meanings." On page 24, I read "…by any strength of the imagination." I have always heard it as "by any stretch of the imagination." And it makes sense too. One doesn't speak in terms of the imagination being weak or strong.

Then on page 36 ["Page-Turners"], a professor is quoted as saying, "when I'm done." Maybe there has been a recent acceptance of an expression that is omnipresent these days-and used by almost everyone, although incorrectly in my opinion. When I taught the 4th grade and my students would approach my desk, with a paper in hand saying "I'm done," I would laugh and tell them that they looked very much alive to me. And that I thought what they meant was that they "had finished." I suppose that I could "stretch" the rule to say that the past tense of "to do" would be OK if the verb "to have" accompanied it, and it also had an object-as in "I have done the task (that was assigned to me)."

Mary-Lina Strauff Kosicki, PhB'46
Timonium, Maryland


"Strength of the imagination" is what the Oxford English Dictionary's North American editor, Jesse Sheidlower, AB'89, said-in what he and the story's writer agree was a happy slip of the tongue: there are times when one's imagination may be strong as well as supple.-Ed.


 


  APRIL 2001

  > > Volume 93, Number 4


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