Case 8: Extol does not mean Exhort

30th January 2002

Filed by: Officer Taylor

The Offence

We of the SAGP were watching the film Chocolat last night. It's a literate, intelligent film, if rather improbable. So we were stopped in our tracks when one of the main characters, the respectable and educated Comte De Reynaud said to the local priest:

She is extolling them to eat chocolate in Lent.

What?! What?! Have you gone completely mad?

``extol'' means to praise highly, or exalt. The Comte probably meant ``exhort'', meaning to urge by strong, stirring argument. Although that's very overbaked in the context of the film, in which boring old ``encourage'', would have been more appropriate.

The Verdict

We can't begin to tell you just how guilty Robert Nelson Jacobs, the screenplay writer, is. But it doesn't end with him. This was a major motion picture, made with a budget of millions of dollars, and based on a very highly regarded novel. Can it really be true that no-one involved in making this film was aware of this gross blunder?

It would have been a little less unforgivable had the Comte used the word ``exalt'' - it's just as incorrect (meaning to raise something in rank, or glorify it), but it does at least sound a bit like ``exhort'', so you could kind of see where such a mistake might come from.

But really. Confusing ``extol'' and ``exhort''? Why? Because they both begin with ``ex''? Then why not go the whole way?

She is exterminating them to eat chocolate in Lent.

Well? It's a verb that begins with ``ex'', isn't it?

The Sentence

Having Jacobs horsewhipped would only be treating a symptom, not the illness. Accordingly we sentence the whole of Hollywood to have its phone, fax and internet lines cut, thereby isolating it forever from the civilised world. Oh, and we'll take their cellphones, too ... Thank you, sir, madam. No, you can't collect it later.

Next case!

Feedback to <> is welcome!