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By William Roger Jones

Bette Midler, the American singer-actress-comedian, once said, "I never know how much of what I say is true." The reason could be because she was voted "Most Talkative" back in her Honolulu high school. But it could also be because of spoken oxymorons.

An oxymoron is a rather foolish contradiction in terms that seems not to make sense. In other words, it is a combination of words used together wherein both cannot be true and correct by definition. We hear and use them all the time. The expressions can be a bit confusing to new learners of the English language.

The character Homer Smith (in William Barrett's novelette The Lilies of the Field) began teaching a bit of English to the German and Hungarian Catholic nuns. Sister Albertine sketched a picture of his vehicle and said, "Automobile? No? Autobus? No?"

"She knew that it had a special name and she did better with English than the others. They were all interested but when he told them that........

© The Korea Times