Clinton comments confusing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 1994, 12:00am


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SOMEONE once said that America and Britain were ''two nations divided by a common language''.

Nowhere is this more true than in the utterances of our politicians and what seems to British ears to be the American habit of using seven words where one would suffice.

As a Briton, therefore, I was confused by Mr Clinton's so-called support for Mr Patten, reported on your front page (South China Morning Post, March 2), where he said. ''And I have been very admiring of what he's done.'' Is this American for ''I admire what he's done?''' In British English the president's statement means ''used to admire once (but I don't any more),'' which is a more sinister, and rather less supportive, comment.

Would one of your readers who speaks American like to clarify? JONATHAN NICHOLAS Mid-Levels