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Re: Final text of GPL v3

Francesco Poli <frx@firenze.linux.it> writes:

> Is "I am afraid it cannot" a definite answer?
> It does not even seem to express certainty...

(I am not a professor of English)

The usage of "I am afraid that <assertion>" in English has changed.

At one point it expressed both uncertainty and anxiety about the
assertion; "I fear that this assertion might be true". Then it was
used euphemistically to be polite about an assertion one *was* certain
about, but felt was bad for the other party so wanted to soften the
statement. Eventually this euphemistic usage became the main

Most native English speakers, I think, would read the above as "Though
I regret the fact, I am certain that <assertion>". To express
uncertainty, it might be clearer to say "I fear that <assertion>" or
"I think that <assertion>".

 \          "About four years ago, I was -- no, it was yesterday."  -- |
  `\                                                     Steven Wright |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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