Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I Stand Corrected

My memory of the Alexander Pope verse was slightly off as the following letter makes clear:

Dear Bill,

You misquoted slightly, substituting "knowledge" for
"learning," a common error. Here's the original:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744), "An Essay on Criticism,"
Part 2, Lines 215-218.

Note the nicely placed adverb "largely," which is
ambiguous between modifying "drinking" and modifying
"sobers." As a logician, you might object to this
fallacy of equivocation, but as one with the soul of a
poet, you will approve.




Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges [Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley]
Department of English Language and Literature
Korea University
136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
South Korea