19 April 2009


In my blog a few days ago (7 April 2009), I discussed words that can have two opposite meanings. One of the examples I suggested was sanction, which can either mean to promote or to forbid.

I was just reading Txting: the gr8 db8, by David Crystal (OUP, 2008), and on page 28, in a discussion about the use of SMS by men to initiate divorce, I found the following sentence:
In some countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore, an initial legal sanction of the practice caused such an outcry that the decision was quickly revoked.
When I read this, I honestly could not work out if there was official support for the practice, or if it was being forbidden. My guess is the former, because I suspect that "sanction of" generally involves approval. But it does illustrate ambiguity involving the word sanction.