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Friday, November 16, 2007

IF YOU WILL

Livia usually toils to the soothing sounds of classical music on WETA-FM . As a result, she recently suffered through the Fall fund-raising whinefest. The "arts editor" turned up every once in a while to bang the drum, and she ended every single sentence with "if you will." "A sort of je ne sais quoi, if you will."

In rhetoric, "if you will" is a device a speaker uses to ask the listener's indulgence while the speaker constructs an analogy or syllogism. Writers use it, too. When did it become a "like"-like hiccup for the lazy-brained?

What if I don't will, hmm? What then? Will you take it back? Come up with another lame analogy and ask me if I will that?

LIVIA DRUSA

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