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In sentencing of the terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, Judge Leonie Brinkema said the following:

“Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper.”

Is this an appropriate use of the word “paraphrase”? I understood “paraphrase” as using different words to elaborate or simplify the original statement. In the above usage, she is using Eliot’s exact words.

  • May 4, 2006
  • Posted by Dyske
  • Filed in Usage

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Paraphrase generally refers to expressing something in different words. I think the judge either misused it or thought she *was* paraphrasing.

dave May 4, 2006 @ 7:58PM

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Neither a paraphrase nor a quotation - just an allusion to Eliot.

semiotek May 5, 2006 @ 3:59AM

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