Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 09:55:00 CDT


Subject: imply/infer

The distinction between *imply* and *infer* has been dead or dying for some spe

akers of American English for at least two generations; that is, some people ca

n use *infer* to mean something the speaker or writer does (as opposed to the l

istener or reader). Last night on *48 Hours,* however, I thought I heard a per

son substitute *inference* for *implication*: the man speaking had just been f

ired by his school board for improper behavior involving upper-elementary-aged

girls--had, in fact, just heard the school board's pronouncement of his unsavor

y behavior and dismissal--and said, "I am profoundly hurt by any inference that

[I have done anything wrong]." I suppose he could have been talking about the

school board's inference of guilt based on the many hours of testimony they had

heard from the girls (now women) whom the man allegedly molested; but it sound

ed an awful lot like he was talking about the between-the-lines implications (i

nferences?) the school board made in its statement regarding his dismissal. My

question is this: Has anyone else heard *inference* used for *implication*?

Did anyone else hear this maybe-attestation last night on *48 Hours*?