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Re: Final text of GPL v3

In message <87ejjrpr9f.fsf@benfinney.id.au>, Ben Finney <bignose+hates-spam@benfinney.id.au> writes
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.

Do you mean in English, or in American?

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

As an English speaker, that is still what it means to me.

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>".

You probably mean most native *American* speakers ...

Anthony W. Youngman - anthony@thewolery.demon.co.uk

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