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3 Comments

  • Great post, Jonathan. I did one a while ago just on the negative use (“not exactly”), but yours is much more comprehensive, and the phonological information (about where the stress falls in a phrase like “not exactly Einstein”) is especially useful. My earlier post prompted a debate about whether this ironic/humorous use of “not exactly” was a typically British feature (that was my original assumption), but it became clear, from other people’s comments, that understatement and irony are just as common among speakers of American English (and it’s definitely a feature of Australian English too).