Never uttered before

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Last week a former Royal Marine who is the boyfriend of the model Kelly Brooks crashed into a bus stop while driving a van carrying a load of dead badgers.

I mention this solely to remind you that linguists are not kidding when they say (as they often do in introductory lectures) that your command of English enables you to understand sentences that have never occurred before in the entire history of the human species.

You don't just understand the meanings of things people have already successfully and meaningfully used in the past (I'd like to speak to the manager; Do you come here often?; I'm afraid I can't help you with that; Take your hand off my leg; Could you tell me the time?; I'll have a ham and swiss on rye; and so on); you understand things you've never heard before — and can hardly believe even after you've heard them. (See this press report for confirmation of the story.)

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