afford to knock it - to knock something

In Search Of

Senior Member
Hi!
Suddenly uncertain about the meaning of "knock it" in an article I am reading about the status of English in the non-native English-speaking world.

The sentence goes: "But the real "powerhouse" is still English. It doesn't have to worry about being loved because, loved or not, it works. It makes the world go round, and few indeed can afford to "knock it"."

Does it mean "ignore it"? or perhaps "criticize it"? The author has put it in quotation marks.
Although it sounds to me as if it might mean "ignore", I can't find that definition of it.

The article is by J. Fishman and is called "Sociology of English as an Additional Language." I accessed it here http://books.google.no/books?id=DV4pddGfYSIC&pg=PA19&lpg=PA19&dq=sociology+of+english+additional+language+fishman&source=bl&ots=D9kCbxmakj&sig=w-2xHZSxsJYgARJ3d0v6hKhUEFE&hl=en&ei=xXirS-OBD5Hz-QbD6omhDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=sociology of english additional language fishman&f=false

Thank you for your thoughts :)
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think you're right with "criticize it." We often say, Don't knock it if you haven't tried it. Don't criticize something you haven't experienced.
     

    In Search Of

    Senior Member
    Thank you Copyright.

    It makes sense, although I'm still unsure about it in this context: why can't people "afford" to criticize the use of English?

    About the expression you mentioned, I thought its meaning was a little more towards "don't reject it before you've tried it".

    i
     

    Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    'Afford' doesn't only mean 'to have enough money' - it can also mean 'to have enough power/strength/time/any other resource'. In this case it means that because English is such a powerful language, people do not have sufficient clout (influence, power, etc) to criticise it with any effect.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    To knock something does not mean to ignore it (at least it is not given in my thesaurus).
    It means to "criticise", although why the sociologist in question put it within quotation marks instead of using criticise or disparage is a mystery to me.

    By the way you deserve a medal for reading this article. When I looked at it just now, I couldn't get past the first sentence!
     

    In Search Of

    Senior Member
    Thank you both. I guess I just couldn't really understand why he would say that people are afraid of criticizing it, since it seems to me it is happening a lot.;) However I think the article is at least 20 years old, and perhaps some things have changed. (Actually, I am sure they have, because I am reading this as part of my work on English as a world language.)
    But I think the saying Copyright brought up does give the right meaning here.

    Thank you again.
    @e2e: thanks, I read this stuff every day and am trying to turn it into a thesis.;) The way this particular author writes makes me feel like I have to come up for breath at times..

    i
     
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