The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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MORRIS                                    163
Any child who understands elementary-school grammar can make the distinction between facts and opinions. This is something I heard on Sh'Ann's porch:
wendy (age 8). Let's play 'Tacts and Opinions"!
sh'ann. Joan, you start. You say something and the rest of the children will decide whether it is a fact or an opinion.
joan. Yesterday I lost five dollars, and that was an awful lot of money to lose.
jill. But you are saying two things, Joan. Start with one and then well go to the other.
joan. All right. Yesterday I lost five dollars.
bobby (age 7). That's a fact.
sh'ann. How do you know, Bobby? Were you there?
bobby. No. But I believe Joanie.
sh'ann. Why?
bobby. Because. Because she always tells the truth. I believe her.
sh'ann. Her words are reliable, then, aren't they?
bobby. That's right. They're reliable. I believe her.
jill. Now the other part, Joan. What did you say?
Joan. That was an awful lot of money to lose. And that's a fact.
sh'ann. Why is that a fact, Joan?
joan. Because my mother almost cried.
sh'ann. What did your daddy say when he came home?
joan. He laughed, and he asked my mother if she remembered when he lost his shirt. And then my mother laughed too.
sh'ann. Your mother felt that five dollars was an awful lot of money to lose, but your daddy didn't. Is that the way it was?