January 16, 2004

Northern Exposure

The media are currently excited about the frigid termperatures in the Northeast. Most of the news reports aren't linguistically focused, maybe because it's hard to talk through frozen lips. But yesterday's New York Times had one gem, a quotation from a spokesperson for a Vermont ski resort: "People can certainly come up and ski tomorrow and have a nice day, as long as their exposed skin is covered.'' Unexposed exposed skin, now there's a concept!

But it's still interesting, because we can all interpret it accurately, even though it doesn't make much literal sense: it's obvious to all readers that "exposed skin" refers not to armpits or knees or even more private body parts, but to bits of skin that would ordinarily see the light of day if it weren't really really cold out. Still, as the man said, we're all naked under our clothes.

Posted by Sally Thomason at January 16, 2004 07:48 PM