I've just watched the Panorama interview of Bill Clinton by David Dimbleby, and near the end there was an interesting example of pondiality. Dimbleby asked Clinton about Kerry (1):

Clinton: "I like John Kerry he's a good man, and he'd make quite a good president."
Dimbleby: " Quite a good president?"
Clinton: "A very good president. Don't you have that "quite" thing over here?
We've discussed it before, but I wasn't aware that it could be quite that ambiguous.
(1) This may not be precise...it can be viewed here, though: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/programmes/panorama
Matti
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
I've just watched the Panorama interview of Bill Clinton by David Dimbleby, and near the end there was ... that "quite" thing over here? We've discussed it before, but I wasn't aware that it could be quite that ambiguous.

I thought that "quite" as used by Clinton was rightpondian rather than left: was Clinton trying to speak native, or did Dimbleby have a "woosh" moment?
(As far as I know, "That's quite good" in BrEng means: "Wow: impressive".)

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
On 23 Jun 2004, Matti Lamprhey wrote

I've just watched the Panorama interview of Bill ... I wasn't aware that it could be quite that ambiguous.

I thought that "quite" as used by Clinton was rightpondian rather than left: was Clinton trying to speak native, or did Dimbleby have a "woosh" moment?

For this BrE speaker "he'd make quite a good president" sounds like damning him with faint praise.
(As far as I know, "That's quite good" in BrEng means: "Wow: impressive".)

(It would certainly mean "good" but probably fall short of "very good". OTOH, "He's a bit good" does mean "Wow: impressive" especially in a sporting context.)
Regards,
Arfur
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
For this BrE speaker "he'd make quite a good president" sounds likedamning him with faint praise.

AusE perspective: generally agreed, "quite a good X" or "a quite good X" is definitely a step below "a very good X". In fact "quite good" is even subtly less praise than just plain "good".
There is some inconsistency in BrE, though: "he's really quite good" (with emphasis on "really") is praise indeed.
I've just watched the Panorama interview of Bill Clinton by David Dimbleby, and near the end there was ... aware that it could be quite that ambiguous. (1) This may not be precise...it can be viewed here, though: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/programmes/panorama

Yes, I found it at the end of the video, and there'a transcript, too:

CLINTON: Well, first of all I support John Kerry. He's a good man, he's a good senator and I believe he'd be quite a good President.

DIMBLEBY: Quite?
CLINTON: Very very good President. Quite a good
President, you don't say that?
I wanted to hear where Clinton put the emphasis, because "QUITE a GOOD president" would be stronger praise than "QUITE a good president." It sounds the second way, to me, but I think he was preoccupied, thinking about his next sentence.

Best - Donna Richoux
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
I've just watched the Panorama interview of Bill ... may not be precise...it can be viewed here, though: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/programmes/panorama

Yes, I found it at the end of the video, and there'a transcript, too: CLINTON: Well, first of all I ... be quite a good President. DIMBLEBY: Quite? CLINTON: Very very good President. Quite a good President, you don't say that?

Who's right, Matti or the transcript? Anyway, you don't mean to say that when a Usan says "quite a good x" they mean "a very good x"?? Wonders will never cease.
Adrian
As is "well good", or so I believe.
Cheers, Sage
I've just watched the Panorama interview of Bill ... may not be precise...it can be viewed here, though: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/programmes/panorama

Yes, I found it at the end of the video, and there'a transcript, too: CLINTON: Well, first of all I ... second way, to me, but I think he was preoccupied, thinking about his next sentence. Best - Donna Richoux

There's also the inflection in the voice to be considered,the flick of the eyebrows. One way can be quite positive (QUITE GOOD), another can be quite damning (QUITE good heigh ho.).
Cheers, Sage
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more