Sunday, April 09, 2006

Planning to paraphrase poorly

A headline from the reads:

Bush 'is planning nuclear strikes on Iran's secret sites'
And the story starts with the following, which I assume is a paraphrase of the above quote:

The Bush administration is planning to use nuclear weapons against Iran...

While the paraphrase does mean essentially the same thing in the most correct sense of 'to plan', it communicates an entirely different idea in the common sense of the verb. While the quote in the headline says that plans are being drafted, the paraphrase suggests that it is the intention of the administration to use nuclear weapons against Iran.

I do not know whether this is strictly an American English thing or not, but following the verb plan with an infinitive tends to communicate intentions, not simply options.

"I am planning to go to the grocery store" might mean two things.
1. I intend to go to the grocery store.
2. I am drafting plans for a trip to the grocery store, so that should the need arise, I would find myself prepared for the trip.


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