Sharp Answers

During a discussion at the family dinner table, my wife made a statement to which I responded,

“But you don’t know that’s true, it’s just an allegation, and we all know who made these allegations…”

My son stopped eating and looked up to interrupt with

“Was it an alligator?”

It got a big laugh – yet, when you think about it, it is true, allegations must be made by alligators.


This sort of thing keeps my mind sharp. Having children is similar to working beside a non-English speaker as it highlights the language’s peculiarities. The three most recent at work being “writing down”, “Filled out” and “iteration”.

I had to explain that when a car is too expensive to repair, for insurance purposes, it is called “Written off”, and when something is being sold cheaper, often because it is damaged slightly, it is “written down”. It’s just an accountancy thing.

Forms may be filled in or filled out. Both mean the form is completed.

The word “iteration” is used a lot where we work. It means a process is repeated. So you get the original thing and after that, a number of iterations. No wonder my Polish colleague wanted to know what reiteration meant.

Reiteration and iteration mean the same. I prefer iterate because it seems strange to say a number of reiterations.