Explicit v Implicit

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Sorcerer, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I see this often in language now. Someone on another thread used the phrase 'absolutely zero environmental control' where I would have said 'no aircon', people say 'improvised explosive device' instead of 'bomb'.

    Why is there a need to be this explicit in everyday usage? For the military, maybe, I don't know anything about that, but why not keep the communication short and sweet? Words can mean different things but you can tell what the speaker/writer intends from the context, so why tediously spell it out everytime?
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I've never heard of "aircon" so it would make the sentence meaningless to me. Sometimes you have to spell out a phrase so laymen can understand it.

    As for "improvised explosive devices," the original meaning of the word "bomb" included the sense of "projectile," so an IED (which often is more of a mine than a bomb) doesn't totally fit the basic definition that laymen use. When we read "bomb," we automatically assume that it's being dropped from a plane, or at least delivered in some other energetic way from a distance.

    Besides, "IED" is slowly creeping into our vocabulary.
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  5. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    You've never heard of aircon?!? Amazing.
    Bomb doesn't imply being dropped from a plane, it means it's going to blow up. You can tell which type is meant from the context in which it's used. And spelling out I E D is just so clumsy.
    I see you've seized on the examples I gave and missed the whole point of the post....
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  7. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    "Absolutely zero environmental control' is verbose.
    We have one member here, whom I will not name, who continually uses sentences like this, and I can't bear reading them.
    In written form "air conditioning", or verbally "aircon", is all that is needed.
    I can understand your dislike of IED, but I don't personally share it.
    My particular hates are "the weekly shop" instead of "the weekly shopping" and similarly "the daily commute".
    Above all, I detest "the school run" as a term for driving kids to school.
    I'm not usually a Stalinist, but a few months in a Siberian work camp would not be a bad idea as punishment for anyone using these phrases.
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Wel then, you may enjoy this little wisdom from George Carlin about the evolution of language. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h67k9eEw9AY
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

    It is connected to the dumbing down of the public schools due to liberal education. Implicit requires a platform of personal knowledge and self reliance, from which the individual can infer what is being said, in the context of when and where it is said. If you get the "Dah???" look, of the liberal dumb down, you will need to do the internal dialogue, for that person, via explicit buzz words.

    The other, but related reason is, we live in an entertainment based culture instead of an education based culture. The explicit is more entertaining and serves the purpose of the jingle in a commercial. If the herd chants or sings the lyrical explicit jingle, they are more likely to buy that product based on the quality of the jingle, instead of the substance of the product. Without implicit they don't have a clue. No marketeer will give you all the implicit information but will attempt to use selective explicit to created a favorable weighted average marketing trick.

    An interesting observation that I noticed was the main stream media, which sides liberal, advertises to children far more than does the conservative media. If you watch FOX news, there is almost no marketing to the young and helpless. This is to help child development. The liberal main stream media has no such restraint and programs its sheep from infancy, as is done in liberal public schools.
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    With the advent of todays computers and cell phones words cost money for we are made to pay for the space we use when online. Texting is the same thing, words are money. Shorter is much more in vogue today because of time , we are trying to multi task so we do things as fast as we can.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It might not be. Air-conditioning is a form of environmental control, and some things like an openable window would not generally fall under its remit.
    For example, a friend of mine once had a car with absolutely zero environmental control: it had no air-con, no heater, and none of the windows opened.
    But if the intention was just to mean air-con, then yes, I'd agree it would be verbose.
    I think the term IED does suggest something that mere "bomb" doesn't. An IED suggests, at least to me, that it is not an "off-the-shelf" device that was originally intended as such, but something that someone, somewhere has cobbled together. I would suggest it is closer to "home-made bomb" than just "bomb", although to me home-made always suggests to me that it's made from things that a typical household might have.
  12. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member


    How nice it is to return from a strenuous skiing holiday to a refreshing game of Wellwisher bingo.
  14. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    When I was at school - many millenia ago - we were taught what was called précis, which meant condensing a paragraph into maybe 10% of the size without losing any of the essential information. It was a difficult but useful exercise. I don't know if it's still taught today.

    Writing business proposals and financial reports, as I used to, is also good training for keeping things short and to the point.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    It's not even in the dictionary. It's obviously slang or jargon, and I don't work in that profession so I'm not familiar with it.

    I beg to differ, but the first definition of "bomb" in dictionary.com starts with the word "projectile," and goes on to clarify that in the modern era most bombs are dropped from airplanes.

    Huh? Creating an abbreviation (or acronym, an abbreviation that can be read phonetically as a word, like "radar" or the Hungarian reading of "USA" as "oo-sha," although people have muddled that distinction lately) makes communication easier and faster, once the general population becomes familiar with it. I daresay that since the Iraq-Afghanistan debacle is the longest war in U.S. history and is on the front page of every newspaper at least three times a week, there aren't many Americans who don't know what an IED is.

    The devil is in the details.

    Everyone everywhere likes to use shorter phrases instead of longer ones, so long as literally (or almost) everyone understands the shorter one. In some languages, like German, this is difficult because the highly-inflected grammar and rigid word order don't allow much leeway. But in minimally-inflected languages like English, or totally uninflected languages like Chinese, it's common for words and fragments of words to be shoved together in an illogical yet perfectly understandable mess, which can reduce the syllable count by 1/3 or more.

    In particular, since our nouns and verbs are only lightly inflected, we're free to use a noun as a verb and vice versa. This is almost impossible in Spanish or Russian because first you have to add a bunch of new syllables to conform to the grammatical rules, which defeats your purpose.

    We do it every day without realizing it. "House" is a noun but we've been using it as a verb (this building houses our internet support group) for so long that I can't even find a date for its first appearance in writing. How many times have you said, "That bad throw lost the game for the home team," "It was a long fall off the roof but my cat survived," or "This book is a good read"?

    "Commute" is in the dictionary as a noun. I'd say you lost that battle a generation ago!

    And how many of our readers are already smirking over your use of "hate" as a noun in the first sentence of this post?

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    Geeze dude. I'm the full-time professional writer here and I've got better things to complain about than this!

    You write as though you began writing before looking the term up in the bloody dictionary! "IED" is an abbreviation for "improvised explosive device." It carries the sense of amateur, slapdash, home-made, etc., right in its name!

    Even as one who writes for a living and therefore does a lot of it, I can hand anything I've done to Mrs. Fraggle (an English major) and she gives it back 2/3 shorter.

    Unless it's a government project. Then you'll be in good stead if you learn to write as though you're being paid by the page.
  16. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    Fun post. Mrs. Fraggle sounds like an excellent person. No, I never dealt with government, thank goodness.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Lighten up, Fraggle. You really think I had to look it up? I know what it means and how it differs, but perhaps the person in the OP didn't, or wasn't clear (at least when they wrote it). So I took the time to give my view.
    So please get off your high-horse and stop thinking that the linguistics thread is your personal plaything!

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    And since when does improvised equate to amateur or slapdash or home-made??
  18. Waiter_2001 Registered Senior Member

    It's rude to use abbreviations like IED when the meaning is "improvised explosive device." I have observed a great difference between male and female writings and explaining meanings to foreigners: it is better to use one word instead of a larger number.

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  19. wellwisher Banned Banned

    I think the trend from a full descriptive phrase, like improvised explosive device, to IED, is simply due to deteriorating spelling skills. This is partially due to public schools not stressing the basics combined with the illusion we are all winners no matter the spelling. But it is also due to the abbreviation language that evolved to initially speed up 1990's AOL chat rooms, 2000's yahoo instant messenger and 2010's cell phone texting. The need for speed, makes it harder to practice spelling big words, when the trend is for abbreviation.

    If we asked students of old to spell Kentucky Fried Chicken they would spell it. Today it is easier to spell KFC, since this abbreviation spells itself and does not require knowing how to spell three whole words. Spell KFC?

    What is really interesting, is too look at the names of some modern children, to see how a common baby name is often sounded out improperly and then spelled incorrectly, from its more traditional spelling. Instead of Brianna it might now be spelled BreeArna. It would be more consistent if it was BE and spelled itself with two easy to remember letter that tell you what to do.

    There is another explanation connected to misinformation. Say the child knows the term IED but does not know what this really means. He knows it has something to do with a bomb, but not exactly what kind. You can manipulate the situation by inflections in the voice. We can manipulate emotions without the child's mind knowing it is not on the same page as the heart. He may visualize a daisy cutter leveling a village instead of a pipe bomb and protest the wrong thing with an overreaction. This has value teaching propaganda.

    Let give an example, LOL means laugh out loud. When someone types that, we just assume they are on the floor laughing ay how clever we are. The reality can be nothing more than being polite. There is a disconnect. If they said, that was a funny joke and it really had me laughing or they said, I heard it before and thought it was dumb, there is clarity.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Unlikely. We've been turning multi-word multi-syllable phrases into abbreviations (UGI for upper gastro-intestinal) and acronyms (laser for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) since the WWII era, three generations ago. And it's generally insisted that Americans were better spellers in those days.

    I'd say the reason is that English is a compact language compared to most of the other European languages, and we want to keep it that way. A sentence that fills up 14 syllables in Spanish, German or Russian needs only ten in English (and French, another compact language). Of the major languages I'm familiar with, only Chinese is more compact than English (7 syllables to our 10).

    We want to be able to talk fast without talking fast, if you know what I mean. We don't want to rattle out syllables at machine-gun speeds in order to carry on a conversation, the way the Italians and Japanese do. We Americans like to speak even more slowly than the British, which explains why we're the ones who invent most of the acronyms.

    Many, if not most, of the current bumper crop of abbreviations are simply the artifacts of texpeak. When you have to compress a thought into 140 characters, you abbreviate to the point of incomprehensibility, and then you abbreviate some more.

    Which brings up my favorite quote from "Boondocks": "Nothing worth reading was ever written by a man who was trying to type with his thumbs."
  21. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    "We Americans like to speak even more slowly than the British"

    Why is that Fraggle? I get very frustrated when I hear Americans drag their words out so slowly, emphasising every syllable.

    I remember a few years ago, we had someone over from the head office in Ohio, and he had trouble following what was being said. Spoke slowly, thought slowly.
  22. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I just found this on another thread:

    "The victims were economically disadvantaged persons of Hispanic descent who were targeted by having their vehicles impounded, towed and stored by Miller's Towing," Flippo said."

    What's wrong with 'poor'?
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    An IED would almost always be a mine, not a bomb.

    Distinguishing between explicit and implicit seems to have little to do with the thread topic.

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