This question has bothered me for years, and every so often I look around online for the/an answer but I always come up empty handed.  In the Coen brothers movie The Ladykillers with Tom Hanks, there is the following exchange of dialogue:

Marva Munson:
[walking in after the explosion in the basement] Professor, I'm surprised!

Professor G.H. Dorr:
Well... uh... properly speaking, madam, we are surprised. You are taken aback. Though I do acknowledge that the sense that you intend is gaining increasing currency through its use, yes.

 

Does anyone know what the professor is talking about here? Is there a rule that would apply to the use of surprised and taken aback in this situation, or are the Coen brothers pulling our leg? If anyone can explain I’d be grateful!

 

 

 

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