There is no such thing as "just semantics"!

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

  1. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    That's one way of putting it.

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  3. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I can't stop laughing, I've got tears in my eyes.

    I came accross this (and I'm still having fits of giggles as I type this).

    "We will not stand for the Fucking signs being removed," [police chief Kommandant Schmidtberger] said.

    "It may be very amusing for you British, but Fucking is simply Fucking to us. What is this big Fucking joke? It is puerile."

    Local tourist guide Andreas Behmueller said it was only the British that had a fixation with Fucking.

    "The Germans all want to see the Mozart house in Salzburg," he explained. "Every American seems to care only about 'The Sound of Music' (the 1965 film shot around Salzburg.) The occasional Japanese wants to see Hilter's birthplace in Braunau."

    "But for the British, it's all about Fucking."

    Guesthouse manager Augustina Lindelbauer described the village's breathtaking lakes, forests and vistas. "Yet still there is this obsession with Fucking," she said. "Just this morning I had to tell an English lady that there were no Fucking postcards."
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It is homo sapiens to err.
    Homo sapiens resources.

    Totally interchangeable.
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  7. Pineal Banned Banned

    This just doesn't make sense to me. The meaning of the word is in the experience of the listener/reader - which the writer speaker also is. If the experience of two words is not the same, the meaning is not the same.

    There is no objective 'meaning' somewhere, there is only what our experiences of words are. We batch these and create consensus repositories in dictionaries, but as long as words are experienced differently, in general, they are not exactly the same. IOW if most people experience slight and similar differences in shades of meaning between two words those words do not have the exact meaning.

    The closest two words in Enmos' list were excrement and feces. To me excrement elicits more of the unpleasant aspects of 'poop' while feces elicits a more information based, very mental without emotion reaction.

    Those two words do not do the same things, though for practical purposes, in many contexts, this does not matter.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Those attributes or values are part of the word's meaning.
  9. decons scrambled egg Registered Senior Member

    An acquired taste.
  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    No the aren't. Again, the difference between using Shit, Feces, and Poo is the context. They speak to aspects of the language other than the meaning.
  11. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    No, you're addressing the impact and influence of the language, not the language itself. These are products of the social context of the word, rather than the meaning of the word itself.

    Nonsense. Without an objective meaning somewhere language is useless, without an objective meaning somewhere, when I say I want a glass of water, how would you know what I was after? I will grant, however, that the meaning of a word can also be contextual - consider the aboriginal usage of the word 'Bindi' versus the Indian usage of it.

    I disagree. If two words are used to describe the same thing, unless one is a subset of the other (eg Excreta versus Feces) then there is no difference. Any diferences are purely subjective and based on social context rather than inherent value or meaning.

    Feces is a subset of excreta, not everything that is excreta is neccessarily feces.

    In this case you're right, but the words are not synonymous any more than 'Mamal' and 'Dog' are.
  12. Pineal Banned Banned

    Could you tell me what that meaning is made of, scientifically, please?

    You are confusing consensus with objective. I am saying that humans will react in collective ways differently to what appear to be synonyms. Of course in many contexts these differences will be mere nuances, differences in meaning, but generally not leading to different actions on the part of listeners and experiencers. But in others they will even lead to different actions.

    Using shit or feces, Enmos example, should be a clear example of this.

    But the meaning is in how the words are experienced. Unless you come up with some substance that meaning is made of, some objective substance, we are talking about what happens in listeners and readers. Subjective experiences, if ones that many people seem to have in common.

    See above.

    Well, this just backs up what I've been saying. Pass it on to Enmos.

    Yes, pass it on to Enmos. He and some others thought is was even silly to question these words were synonyms. And they were in a list with 'poop' and 'shit' which are even more different.
  13. Pineal Banned Banned

    No they speak directly to the meaning. I cannot imagine a non-contrived context where my experience of someone's choice of one of those three words would not affect how I took what they meant. I would guess in most cases I would be able to find the object(s) they were referring to - if the 'feces' were visible - but what they meant would have quite different shades of meaning.

    We are not passing each other a picture of a pile of poop. Words convey all sorts of meanings.

    We are after all human - of course we are also homo sapiens but I think the first word 'human' is clearer. For us meaning is not simply about delineating which object is being referred to - or really which aspects of what we call objects. As humans, ALL kinds nuance of meaning elicit responses in us, affect our experience of words. These include intangibles elicited by poop as opposed to shit as opposed to feces.
  14. Pineal Banned Banned

    While I agree with the second paragraph, I disagree with the first - with a proviso.

    I do think that two or more people could be having an argument and realize that in fact they do not disagree but each is using a certain word in different ways.

    Ah, you meant __________, when you said _________.

    IOW I do think a dispute could dissolve after and examination of issues of semantics.

    My proviso: This is generally a cooperative/collaborative result. IOW both parties come to realize they were using words in ways the other person did nto realize and/or vice versa. You cannot tell another person that they are wrong, it is merely semantics. It cannot be a power move. Or perhaps 'should' not be. If one person has heard the semantics clarifications and still thinks there is a disagreement, the issue is still up in the air. they might simply be being stubborn or whatever and may later realize semantics was the point of confusion and in fact that person and the others were not in disagreement. But this is very hard to determine from the outside.
  15. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    irrelivent in your own words:

  16. Gustav Banned Banned


    "objective" is defined by a consensus of opinion, is it not?
  17. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    No. It's only the context that changes.

    If I say to you:
    "Your dog shat on my lawn"
    "Your dog defecated on my lawn"
    "Your dog pooped on my lawn"

    The meaning, in all three cases is clear, and it's clearly the same - Your pet dog came on to my private property, paused to evacuate its bowels of metabolic and digestive byproducts, and then vacated my premisis.

    The only difference between those three sentences is the mood that they convey, or what the convey about me. If I choose to use the first, it could mean that because of (for example) my socio-economic background, I simply don't attribute any specific significance to expletives and slang terms, and they form a part of my every say language, or it could just as easily mean that this is the 5th time in 3 days that I've seen it happen, and even though I haven't said anything before now, and I'm about ready to take things further, depending on your response. As opposed to using the word Defecate, which could indicate a level of higher education, or it could be that I get 'cold' angry, rather then 'hot' angry, or it could be that I don't particularly care, but I would really appreciate it if you would control your dog.

    In all three cases the meaning of the word is the same, even the meaning of the sentence is the same, the only thing that really changes is what you could reasonably infer about me, or about my mood, and that inference, combined with non-verbal cues is what should guide your response to me, which will ultimately dictate how the rest of the interaction proceeds.

    No. This is precisely what communication is. I am trying to convey an idea to you, but in order for it to be successfully transfered, first I must hand you the correct picture, and then you must understand it correctly. In the context of personal interaction, that picture is conveyed by my choice of language, as well as non verbal cues such as my tone, or my bodylanguage.

    All of which are societal, or contextual, and none of which changes the meaning of the word, because all of them refer to the same thing - the pile of (mostly) brown (unless it's christmas, and your dog's been eating tinsel) material in the middel of my lawn that was produced when your pet dog came on to my property to evacuate its bowels of solid metabolic and digestive waste products.
  18. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Proteins, and potential gradients (at least according to one theory of memory anyway).

    As Gustav said - Objective is defined as consensus opinion, but equally consensus opinion is the objective. Before human beings can communicate, they must first agree on the meanings of the symbols, sounds, and gestures that they use. That excerpt I quoted regarding Fucking, Austria is the perfect example of this, and what I had to say about effective communication.

    That's not because of the meanings, but because of the cultural and social status attached to the words, collectively, by those humans. It relates to the cultural capital of the words, which may be related to something as trivial as its etymology.

    How the words are experienced is not dictated solely by the meaning, but by the cultural capital of the person to whom the words are directed. The meaning is a consensus agreement on the value of a group of symbols, and the sounds associated with those symbols by a group of people whom share some commonality in their cultural capital (be it ethnic, religous, tribal, or what ever). Even here in NZ, between the North Island and the South Island there are differences in language. There are words or phrases that I use on a regular basis that I had to explain to my wife ('Tai hoa', and 'Don't tutu' being two of them, if I've spelt them right) because my wife and I come from very different cultural backgrounds. There are other differences as well, for example I call it a Vacuum Cleaner, and talk about doing the Vacuum Cleaning, she calls it an Electrolux, and talks about doing the 'Luxing. I call a summer holiday house by the beach a Bach (pronounced the same as Batch), She calls it a Crib, which lead to me pissing myself with laughter at a TV advert that she couldn't understand - the advert involved a group of people getting together a bunch of Cocoa beans, placing them in the middle of a summer beach house, burning the beach house down around the pile of beans, and then shoving some copper storm spouting in to the smouldering pile to extract the freshly made chocolate, with the voice over "Whitikers, Batch roasted since 1886"

    Like I said, voltage gradients and proteins.

    No, this is wrong. Words have a subjective aspect and an objective aspect. The Objective aspect is derived from the consensus among groups of people with shared cultural capital, that the symbols 'F O R K' when arranged in that order refer to a particular kind of eating instrument, that in general has a particular kind of shape, involving a handle, and at least two parallel prongs that are arranged as a bifurcation of the handle. However where there are significant differents in cultural capital (EG being of Austrian descent versus English descent) then the same words may acquire different meanings, or the same word (same word being the recognisably same collection of sounds and/or symbols) may even evolve independantly with different meanings.

    The subjective aspect is derived from the cultural capital accrued by the word, based on factors such as its etymology and its usage, and the commonalities (and differences) of the cultural capital (including socioeconomic background) of the communicator and the communicatee (the participants in the communication), which includes things such as societal taboos which determine which words are cuss words, and which words are not - even though they're describing the same thing.

    No, not really.
  19. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Granted, it's a bitch to bake a bach on the beach for the sake of a decent cup of batch roasted.

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  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    By this logic, as given in an example earlier, sardonic, sarcastic and satirical would mean the same.

    You seem to assume that meaning refers only to the physical referent of a word.
    But many, if not most words, do not have physical referents. By your reasoning then, those words (such as justice, love, hatred, and, to, begin, end, one, two, ten ...) do not have a meaning.
  21. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    Saying a problem is "hard to solve" or "difficult to solve" means the same thing, without "hard" or "difficult" having a physical referent.

    Arguments that unwind when terms are defined are not always conflicts of differing interests. Often they are arguments based around two parties not really understanding the point the other side is making because each is defining key terms differently. If you have never seen that, and can't imagine it, that's more a failure of imagination on your part.
  22. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Ummm, no, because they have distinct meanings based in different uses.
    None of this actually follows from anything I have actually said, and frankly I'm mystified as to how you could draw that conclusion.

    I mean, even if we pursued your reasoning - a concept is still a thing, it's just not neccessarily a tangible thing, so it still doesn't follow.
  23. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    No, they have "definitions" much like every word. Which is sort of a meaning, but not really because each definition leads only to more words. Trying to seek some unseen philosophy through definitions is often futile. Still to give a word meaning we tie it to a physical object, action, or quality of that object.

    Words have definitions. Sentences have "meaning".

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