Life’s phrases: To read between the lines

by Ahalya on June 25, 2009

According to Albert Jack, author of ‘Red Herrings and White Elephants’, the phrase ‘to read between the lines’ originated when cryptography was a new and fashionable way of passing coded messages. One trick was to place the real message on alternate lines and then writing an unrelated story to hide the true flow of the message. These days the phrase means trying to find the real message which is not at once obvious.

It can be rather tiresome to figure out what someone is saying when you suspect that they aren’t being entirely truthful, or are, at best, trying to be rather clever. The last time I thought of this phrase was when I was shopping for a new refrigerator. These days, salespeak has become so euphemistic that its easy to get trapped with a mammoth box of wires that cools nothing, and hulks prettily in what little space the kitchen affords. If I had read between the lines I would have understood that I was making a big mistake bringing home something that required manual defrosting and a soft touch lest the eggs wobble of their perch and fall into the special carrier odds and ends.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kunal September 28, 2009 at 9:58 am

reading between the lines is[ and i may be wrong in this :)] the old meaning of the word intelligent; to read between the lines.
but it also can give u a crick in the neck 😉 . its all jolly to read between the lines, but the lines are not always or even usually straight.
so sometimes a delicate movement of the neck and sometimes the whole body need take place.
but the interesting thing is that the word ‘communicate’, is to make things common. so that takes care of everything. so why the reading between the lines at all… isnt it more intellegent to make things easier rathehr than more difficult?
though human beings over the years have tried to and have succeeded in making things more and more difficult, even with the help of machines ‘to make life easier and better’.
one perfect example of how things being simple and therefore much more beautiful[ in context of words] is Abraham Lincolns famous speech, where he used all of some 240 odd words[ after the first chap spoke for 1.5 hours, and it was in winter!]

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