Letters: Lauryn Hill; Soccer Officiating

Letters — we get them and we like to read 'em. Today, Melissa Block and Michele Norris explore some of what's in our virtual mailbag: the difference between the words "equal" and "co-equal"; the finer points of officiating soccer; and the love, or not, felt by listeners toward songstress Lauryn Hill.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And now, your comments about yesterday's program. A couple of you were perplexed about a word David Welna used in his story on the death of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. The word is co-equal, and here's David using it in a sentence.

DAVID WELNA: Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter noted Byrd's insistence that the separate branches of government be kept co-equal.

NORRIS: Well, Jim Bloom of Macomb, Illinois, asks: What is the difference between the words equal and co-equal? Is there a difference? Or is co-equal sort of redundant all over again?

For the answer, we went back to the source, our own David Welna.

WELNA: Co-equal means equal with one another when you're comparing a group of items. That's different from talking about just two items, which you might call equal. Since I referring to equality among the three branches of government, that's why I used the word co-equal.

NORRIS: A United States Soccer Federation referee took issue with our conversation about a series of blown calls at the World Cup. Bob Oppliger, of Iowa City, writes: I'm not sure if I should assess a yellow card for persistent infringement, or a red for serious foul play. He goes on to say: Unlike other sports, FIFA referees pay a high price for their mistakes. Koman Coulibaly, the ref who waved off the U.S. goal against Slovenia, was removed from any further assignments. You forgot to mention that.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Mr. Oppliger also gave me a yellow card for my statement that referees run something like 12 miles in a game. He says that would be about a seven-and-a-half to eight-minute mile pace for the entire 90 to 95 minutes. As someone who's done it, I can say that we do run more than officials in other sports, but it's more like six miles.

And of course, Mr. Oppliger's math is correct.

Michele, I think if I get one more yellow card, I am suspended from hosting tomorrow's program. You're on your own.

NORRIS: We don't want that, Melissa.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: Watch out.

Finally, our profile of singer Lauryn Hill didn't receive much love from Gerald Gustafson(ph) of South Bend, Indiana. He writes: Lauryn Hill as one of the 50 great voices? She has a limited range, limited repertoire. She's just not worthy. But Dele Lowman, of Atlanta, writes to thank us for the piece. She says: Zoe Chace's story on Lauryn Hill was like catching up with a long-lost friend. At times, I pumped up the volume in my car and sang along.

(Soundbite of song, "Ex-Factor)

Ms. LAURYN HILL (Musician): (Singing) It could all be so simple.

BLOCK: Love it or leave it, we do enjoy reading your letters. Please send them to us at NPR.org. Just click on "Contact Us" at the bottom of the page.

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