Words: Impassionate adj.
Wednesday 24 June 1998
This exposes a small fault line in the language: the use of the prefix in- (or im-) either to negate or to signify an inward motion.
The Romans bequeathed us this problem, though it never seemed to confuse them so much. They coped perfectly happily with two verbs flammare, to blaze, and inflammare, to kindle or catch fire.
And that is why, since 1959, the British Standards Institute has recommended the use of flammable and non-flammable to avoid confusing people who might take flammable and inflammable as opposites.
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