June 23, 2005

Don't care to

For the third time in about three weeks, and about the tenth time since moving here to Tennessee, I've heard people say things like "I don't care to do that," or "I don't care to show you that." For instance, when my client was asked to produce her personal journal, she said, "I don't care to show you the journal."

When I hear that, I interpret it to mean "I don't want to show you the journal" or "I would prefer not to show you the journal." In fact, what a southerner means by that is the exact opposite -- "I don't mind showing you the journal" or "I don't care if you see the journal."

A former employee at the law firm once said she "did not care to" do something I had asked her to which I had anticipated she would find unpleasant. I thought she was being insubordinate. In fact, she was telling me that she didn't find the prospect of what I wanted her to do to be unpleasant at all.

Strange use of the language.

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