4

In a movie Lagaan, there was a cricket match going on between the ruling British Empire and the native Indians. In that match, a very important bowl (from the view point of both of the teams) was decided to be a "no ball" by the umpire. Then the fielding side i.e. the British team's captain angrily went to the umpire and demanded the decision to be reviewed. But as in cricket the umpire's decision is final and he does not stand to clarify his position to anybody, the umpire refused to discuss it with the captain and replied (somewhat diplomatically)

I am not discussing it.

It seemed to me the statement means "I am not going to discuss it with you". Is that correct? If it is, then are such constructs used in cases to bypass any question or hide some emotion (in this case the fear of being caught or to sit for a debate)?

5

In English, the present indicative (I am) can be used to express will or intention. In this case, the phrase means

I intend not to discuss it.

This usage may be employed elliptically (as in this example of an umpire refusing to argue about a decision) or emphatically (as in the case of a mother telling her child, "I'm not telling you again!"), and there's often some overlap in the meaning. I wouldn't read any emotion-hiding into the statement based just on the usage.

1

In addition to declaring his intent not to discuss the call, the umpire is also employing a common idiom. Very often, when a child wants to do something that a parent is completely opposed to, the parent may tell the child "I'm not going to discuss it."

"But, mom," she said, "everybody who's anybody is wearing these see-thru T-shirts!"

"I'm not even going to discuss it!"

Translation: if you continue to complain about this, you're not getting your allowance this week either.

The idea of the idiom connotes that to continue to complain about the call made would be to incur the wrath of the authority figure.

This connotation comes, then, not from a diplomatic construction, but rather a common household pattern that carries over into grownup life.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.