There is no such thing as "just semantics"!

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by wynn, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,058
    There is no such thing as "just semantics."


    Words are not interchangeable. There are no two words that could be interchangeably used in the same statement and the meaning of the statement would stay the same.
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Enmos Staff Member

    Messages:
    43,184
    Huh? What about synonyms?
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    Messages:
    867
    Well I guess all translations are really fucked then...
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,058
    There are no absolute synonyms.

    The are no two words that could be interchangeably used in all statements without any change of meaning of the statement.
     
  8. Enmos Staff Member

    Messages:
    43,184
    Well, I beg to differ.

    "I've got no pants on" vs. "I've got no trousers on"

    And there is a lot more.
     
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,058
    Do you really see no difference betwen the two?

    For one, "pants" is American English, and "trousers" is British English.
     
  10. Enmos Staff Member

    Messages:
    43,184
    So?

    "There is shit all over the pavement"
    "There are feces all over the pavement"
    "There is poop all over the pavement"
    "There is excrement all over the pavement"
    etc.
     
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,058
    Which one of these would be used by
    - a doctor
    - a forensic
    - a homeless person
    - a street kid
    - a housewife
    - a nice girl
    etc.?
     
  12. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,805
    That might fully be the case in a specialized or technical language. Where terms or symbols would be restricted to single definitions to avoid any misunderstandings, and the identical-meaning type of synonym was accordingly eliminated, with distinct and well-organized hyponyms, hypernyms, etc., maintained. But that such strict representational systems had to be invented spotlights the ambiguities of ordinary language (English, anyway), resulting from its often unguided evolution. Still, this is not to contend that ordinary language lacks numerous groups of synonyms that are claimed by usage authorities (if not always supported or clarified by their individual dictionary entries) to have clear distinctions:

    Sarcastic implies exhibiting scorn in such a way as to hurt someone.

    Sardonic implies exhibiting scorn in a cold, aloof manner but not directed at anything or anyone in particular.

    Satirical implies exhibiting something in a scornful light but not necessarily so as to hurt anyone.
     
  13. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    Messages:
    867
    That is not their "meaning". It is but part of the history of the same concept.
     
  14. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    249
    Even if that were true (which I'd dispute, as there are plenty of words with no discernible shade of difference in meaning...and simply saying that different people in differing walks of life have different vocabularies doesn't distinguish that the words they use are identical in meaning), there is still such a thing as "just semantics" Many people engage in arguments which they believe to be substantive, but where the disagreement in fact is only apparent because those involved are using the same words but attaching different meanings to those words. In many of those cases when the terms are defined more thoroughly, so that both sides are working from the same understanding of the meanings of the relevant terms, those involved in the argument see their disagreement evaporate.
     
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,755
    A semantic argument is one over the definition of words. You posted several semantic arguments in your posts above.

    Sure there are. Just consider the many hundreds of words people use to describe being drunk, kissing, having sex etc etc. Most of them are completely interchangeable.
     
  16. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    In a similar vein, this brings to mind a personal annecdote - I live in a country that very predominantly (although seemingly less so than when I was educated) uses British english for both spellings and meanings, which causes no end of grief when you're learning to program, and the language uses american english. Anyway, on this particular occasion I had the opportunity to role play in a fantasy setting with a group of Americans. The DM kept talking about room full of trunks, and how the trunks were locked, and emanating evil intent.

    At first I thought he was talking about these:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!


    Which even contextually made sense, because there is indeed a monster in this setting that resembles a tree trunk.
    As it happens, what he actually meant was:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!



    And please don't talk to me about 'Fanny packs' or spanking someones fanny, because I can't even keep a straight face typing it.
     
  17. Pineal Banned Banned

    Messages:
    846
    Shit may or may not refer to feces. It also add force and perhaps even anger to the statement. That sentence DOES NOT mean the same things as the other sentences.

    Feces is a more scientific term and to me the sentence, unlike the first one, is more clinical/informative. IOW it is likely highly specific and not meant to carry emotional overtones or value judgments. It might also refer to non-human feces or to things that are not visible - I doubt the other sentences would be used if small, hard to see excrement was present.

    Poop is a word often used in the context of speaking to children. To me it is likely that this sentence would be coupled with injunctions - so don't lick the pavement. It also carries a softness, or likely would, a gentleness in the relationship between the speaker and the intended listener.

    Excrement - this not at all like shit and poop, but it is closest to feces and this pair is the only possible counter example. Interestingly both come from Latin and had rather different meanings there. I think in most cases feces is more clinical - it is an information word, period. Excrement has more potential to have value judgments embedded in it.

    I, a native speaker of English, react slightly differently, to those two sentences, even though they are vastly closer than combinations involving the other two, poop and shit.

    Words also do not have meanings 'in them', I go with Wittgenstein's meaning is use, which supports the OP. Words used by speakers elicit meanings in listeners in contexts. The contexts brought up for me - here where there are no cues - are still slightly different between feces and excrement.

    Oh, yes, the simple fact that excrement is singular and feces is plural elicits something slightly different phenomenologically. At least for me.
     
  18. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    Messages:
    867
    So... That a person chooses one word over another may tell you something about the person, but the meaning behind the word itself is the same corn filled crap.
     
  19. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,049
    I know what you mean, that one gets me as well

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    So do the names fanny and dick i admit (no i didnt purposly make that rhyme). Then there is root beer and root for. If you were rooting i would think you would have more important things on your mind than what team is winning

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  20. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,890
    Not to mention questions like "Which route are you going to take".
    :roflmao:
     
  21. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,049
    "which route are you using to come and get me"

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  22. Pineal Banned Banned

    Messages:
    846
    Where 'behind the word' is the meaning?
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    The singular of Latin faeces is faex, which means grounds, dregs or sediment. We never adopted the singular form of the word in English, and we changed the meaning.
    In many American dialects those are two different vowels. A tree root is the OO in look, push, good, pudding, cookie. To root for a team is the OO in food, snooze, shoe, true, boot.

    But there are some dialects in which the vowel in the combination ROO- (room, broom, roof) is leveled to the "food" pronunciation. So for those people room and broom rhyme with assume, and roof rhymes with aloof.
    It looks like you're re-spelling the word "rutting." If you pronounce that as "rooting," then your Australian dialect must mirror the regional British dialect in which luck and look, putt and put, stud and stood are homonyms. In American English and R.P. they are not.
    You're obviously using the French pronunciation of the word, ROOOT. Many Americans say it that way, but others pronounce the vowel as a diphthong, so route rhymes with shout.
     

Share This Page