“When people think of a family, they think of the man going out to make a living and condoning the money.”

I seem to be stuck in a gender-stereotype rut here; maybe it’s the current, amazing, political scene that is drawing me to evidences of ineptly expressed evidences of conceptual ineptitude. Be that as it may!

I’m not sure which “people” my student had in mind, but most of the people I know do NOT think of a family as a man going out to make a living. For most of us, even the most traditional, it’s quite a bit more than that.

And I can’t even imagine what that man might be doing as he is “condoning the money.”

“To condone” is to voluntarily forgive, overlook, pardon, or treat as unimportant. Generally, we might condone an error, a foible, a vice, a crime, a sin. I’m not sure how money can be forgiven or pardoned; and I’m pretty sure most people don’t consider its acquisition unimportant, not in this economy.

Obviously, for my student “the man” is in charge. Perhaps a second sentence revealed the role of “the woman” in the family, but if it did I didn’t record it, meaning that if it existed I found it neither funny nor amazing—which, considering THIS sentence, I think is unlikely, so probably he felt that the male role was the only one that needed to be established for his argument.

I can picture various ways in which the man might make a living, but I’m damned if I can picture him “condoning the money.” Would he do this in public or in private? Would it involve some sort of ritual of absolution, or could it be accomplished in private and informally? And what would happen to the money after it was condoned?

I suppose we could theorize that because of the way the man made the living the money might be considered “ill-gotten gains,” and so he must forgive it somehow before he can legitimately spend it, but I think that idea is too far-fetched to explain my writer.

Well, regardless of your sexual persuasion I hope you make plenty of money to condone. And if you do, I wish you’d tell me how in blazes you condone it! Suggestions as to what this student actually meant are welcome.


About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

6 responses to ““When people think of a family, they think of the man going out to make a living and condoning the money.”

  • Mary Jane Schaefer

    Wild Guess: Because he makes the money, he also gets to judge (condone) how it should be spent.

    • RAB

      One of Webster’s definitions is “to treat as trivial, harmless, or of no importance.” Maybe he’s a modest man, and when the family cheers him as Their Breadwinner and Savior, he condones the money by saying “Oh, tut-tut, THIS trifle? Only a fraction of the living I WISH I could make!” That still isn’t using the word right, but it’s remotely imaginable.

  • kitchenmudge

    If the student was not a native to English, there might be some language in which “condone”, or something like it, has another meaning. “Con” = “with”, “don”=”give”. “Give to the people you’re with”, maybe?

    • RAB

      Well, this is an interesting theory! M-A-Y-B-E we can imagine some jerry-built term like “con + donna,” meaning “share the money with the lady”! Actually the student had no signs of ESL issues, but he may have taken Latin or Italian in school, just enough to make strange guesses about vocabulary…

  • yearstricken

    He cordons off the money, pushing it into a budget, setting up blockades so it is not ill-spent.

    These puzzles haunt me, you know.

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