Adam’s Free Time
Posted by Neal on February 15, 2011
Every summer when Doug and Adam take swim lessons (at the pool I’ve talked about before), I put up with the instructors calling the crawl “freestyle,” bringing up yet another generation of kids to think that freestyle means crawl. I can understand this usage in the Olympics, because there, freestyle really does mean you can choose your stroke, and it’s just that for most swimmers, you’d be a fool to choose anything but the crawl. And as a linguist, I can understand the process by which freestyle undergoes this semantic narrowing. But as always, I don’t have to like it, and what the swim teachers call freestyle, I continue to call the crawl.
So what got me thinking about swimming, here in the middle of winter? Conversations I have with Adam, which go something like this one:
Me: OK, time to do your homework.
Adam: But I haven’t had any free time today!
Me: Sure you did! You slept until almost noon this morning.
Adam: I mean I haven’t had any video game time!
Or this one:
Me: All right, let’s do some violin practice.
Adam: So you’re saying I get no free time at all? Because after this it’ll be time for showers and get ready for bed!
Me: You had an more than an hour of free time between when you got home from school and supper.
Adam: But Doug was on the P[lay]S[tation]3 almost that whole time!
No. No R-based narrowing of free time on my watch. In my house, it will continue to refer to time you can spend as you wish, regardless of whether you spend it playing video games.