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Subject: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch
Question: Hello!

Is there a term or name for the special relation each of these words
has to the other, i.e. imply/infer, throw/catch?

I always tell my students ''your verb is aimed in the wrong direction''
but if there is a good linguistic term for this, I'd like to know it.

Thanks so much.

Cheri Endean
Asst. Professor and Interim Director of the Writing Center
Kendall College of Art and Design
Grand Rapids, MI

Reply: Many years ago I did a small study of words like this and called them 'reciprocals' then (can't remember whether I made that up or got it from somewhere else....).

They are an interesting group of verbs in which the relationship is 'A Xs B' entails 'B Ys A'. They are very prone to interchangeability across dialects. It's not just (some) American English that can interchange lend and borrow: (to the best of my knowledge) there are speakers in EVERY region of English who do this. The relationship is fundamentally a complex one. Similar instabilities can be found in other languages.

Bring/take/fetch show a similar, but not identical, semantic complexity and are also unstable across the regions of English. Whoever told Professor Fischer that 'in British English ...something like "I'll bring it there to you"' is unacc are unacceptable had simply not looked at variation in usage, and at differences between individuals.

Some things are just semantically complex. Compare these to other relationships that could be described as antonymy (big/small) -- these are very stable.

Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 05-Mar-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    James L Fidelholtz     (02-Mar-2013)
  2. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    Nancy J. Frishberg     (06-Mar-2013)
  3. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    Susan D Fischer     (01-Mar-2013)
  4. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (02-Mar-2013)

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