Response to JB Rowley
Hm, interesting point you have there regarding 'infer'. Here's what JB said for those of you who might have missed it:
I would like to question your use of 'inferences'. An inference, as I understand it, is made by the audience (listener or reader) not by the writer or speaker. So a speaker or writer implies, a listener or reader infers. In which case it would be grammatically incorrect to say a piece of writing contained ‘inferences’ as in your blog (‘…and contained quite a few cultural inferences about the position of women in society…). From my understanding of grammar it would be more appropriate to say a piece of writing contains ‘implications’. I know that infer and imply are often misused but has it now become accepted practice to use ‘infer’ and ‘imply’ interchangeably?"
Well, I found the following information on www.dictionary.com:
Infer has been used to mean “to hint or suggest” since the 16th century by speakers and writers of unquestioned ability and eminence: The next speaker criticized the proposal, inferring that it was made solely to embarrass the government. Despite its long history, many 20th-century usage guides condemn the use, maintaining that the proper word for the intended sense is imply and that to use infer is to lose a valuable distinction between the two words.
Although the claimed distinction has probably existed chiefly in the pronouncements of usage guides, and although the use of infer to mean “to suggest” usually produces no ambiguity, the distinction too has a long history and is widely observed by many speakers and writers.
So, it would seem that I am old-fashioned in using 'infer' to mean 'hint/suggest'!
An interesting point, thanks for raising it.
Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.