January 15th, 2006

ozarque figure

The Little Virus That Could....

Heard on NPR news this morning: The current flu virus in the United States has "managed" to become resistant to two of the major anti-viral medications.

Which caught my attention, because in all dialects of English that I'm familiar with "manage to [X]" presupposes getting X done after a certain amount of planning and effort. Saying to someone that they've "managed to" do something is ordinarily not a compliment, and the construction is one of the most effective ways to give a compliment and take it back at the same time or turn it into an openly hostile utterance. For example....

"They tell me you've managed to get a JOB! CongratuLAtions!"
"Hey, you managed to pass your EXAMS! CongratuLAtions!"

To increase the hostility level, you just add "finally." As in...

"I hear you finally got your deGREE! That's terRIFic! CongratuLAtions!"

You can just hear the little bacterial squad leader out there on the field pontificating at the troops: "SO, you finally managed to get resistant to those two MEDS! You see what you can DO if you really TRY, instead of just goofing around? That's a CLUE, guys!"