I’m not even sure I wanted to know this.
Stephen Pinker, the great philosopher of mind, has a new book out, The Stuff of Thought. It’s reviewed here (link from Arts and Letters Daily). One of the topics Professor Pinker addresses is the way we use language to mean something other than the exact words that we speak. Hence:
“Would you like to come up for coffee,” has become an indirect request for sex.
I suppose it’s the word “up” that does the work. I always thought the classic pick-up line was an invitation to come up to see some etchings, but in either case, it’s “up” that makes the difference.
I hope that’s the case. If it isn’t, I will never again be able to have an innocent coffee with a friend.