Friday, February 11, 2011

Vacuous and Verbose-26

In April 2010, newspapers reported that the Prime Minister was enumerated for Census. Yesterday was the turn of the Vice President to get enumerated.

I find the usage of the term ‘enumerated’ in the above sentences quite odd. I have always understood it to mean ‘to count one by one’. Apparently it can also be used, in the context of a census, to describe a single person being counted.

In his infamous radio broadcast during World War II as a German prisoner, P.G.Wodehouse described the tendency of the German guards to keep counting the prisoners with elaborate ritual and annoying frequency. They would ask the hundreds of inmates to stand in line once before breakfast, once after breakfast, once before the exercise drill, once before going to bed, etc and painstakingly take a head count.

One of the prisoners, according to Wodehouse, swore that if he ever got out of prison alive and became rich, he would buy a German soldier, keep him in his backyard and count him 10 times a day.

Do the Census officials mean this when they say that the VP has been enumerated? That they made him stand up and had him counted to make sure that there was only one of him?

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