There is no such thing as "just semantics"!

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

  1. Ickyrus Registered Senior Member

    Language is flawed as a communication medium. I propose that Brains are pattern recognising and model the world based on experience. One of those patterns recognises that their are many similarities between the way each human experiences the world. If I draw a circle and see a circle then I assume that you see the same thing.

    However to extend this assumption to every experience is flawed. Not everybody has the same type of eyeball or ability to see the same way as evidenced by colour blindness.

    Since every body experiences the world differently, can there ever truly be an exact semantic match?

    The second proposal is that we come to a statistical understanding of language and in its current form exact or precise communication is not possible. The latter statement would be a discussion for a new thread.
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There are quite a few tonal languages, including more in the Asian language families, some in the language families in Africa and North and South America, as well as others. Chinese is by no means the only language in which tone is phonemic. I have often suggested that tonal languages require their speakers to develop more precise vocabularies for expressing their feelings, since tone is a major indicator of feeling in non-tonal languages.
    Would that mean that you are also not a suitable source because you are not dyslexic? Bias works both ways.
    A while ago I read an article saying that dyslexics make very good managers because delegation is second-nature to them. "Here, please read this 100-page document and give me a summary. Then I'll want you to write our company's response."
    Perhaps what he means is that a collection of sounds is not imparted with meaning by nature, but assigned meaning by a community of speakers, and a different meaning by other communities with language structures that allow the same collection of sounds to be a word. E.g, gift in German means "poison."
    Not surprising, since Lewis Carroll loved word play.
    Survival is Step One on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Step Two is security.
    And Step Three is love, Step Four is esteem, and Step Five is self-actualization (you can tell that not many of us have gotten that far because it's not well defined or understood

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    ). All of these things are "good" for humans. Most lower animals are limited to Steps One and Two, although many social species of mammals and birds appear to also experience love.
    That is much too narrow a definition, especially in a place of science and scholarship. "Faith" is confidence or trust in the existence, ability, loyalty, reliability, etc., of a person or thing. Confidence in the existence of a deity is only one small example of "faith."
    That's just one example of the difference between (formal) writing and speech. They are two different ways of using a language and they do not follow exactly the same rules.
    Not really. H. sapiens is narrowly defined as "modern humans." Neanderthals, Denisovans, Floresiensis, and other species more-or-less contempory with ours and descended from the same ancestral species are often called "human." In fact one of the sources in includes all members of genus Homo, including clearly ancestral ones such as H. erectus or H. habilis.
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  5. NCDane Registered Senior Member


    Both words are standard American. Although "trousers" may be less commom
    I would be willing to bet its recognition level is over 95% of the US population
    which speaks English .
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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If you are an American, begin using the word "trousers" instead of "pants" and see what responses you get. If you're British, use "pants" instead of "trousers."
  8. Gustav Banned Banned


    "vacating your premises" is a wholly unwarranted extrapolation. the examples given indicate no such thing

    in actuality the dog's last known whereabouts was on your property as evinced by your assertion. it has not been seen since and we suspect foul play

    the dog never did leave your property, did it now, trippy?


    roll out the guillotine!
  9. Gustav Banned Banned

    bad example but going with the flow....
    a raised eyebrow, a chuckle. either party will then, by way of an proffered explanation or foreknowledge will derive meaning and chalk the difference in terminology down to a matter of semantics

    signal, i would imagine it really depends on what we are considering as examples. in some cases i can imagine it is in actuality, just a matter of semantics. in others, not so

    a decent rule of thumb would be...

  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    /Hides the BBQ and the basting.

    No, I assure you, the dog has definitely left the premises (even if it was through the sewerage reticulation).
  11. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Over here, they are used interchangebly.
  12. hardalee Registered Senior Member

    I have a car.
    I have an automobile.

    Interchangeable? (Except the a, an)
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Maybe you're a railroad hobbyist and you have an old freight or passenger car in your back yard.
  14. hardalee Registered Senior Member

    Nope. Just a few cars, or automobiles.
  15. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    That you get strange responses because the word is uncommon in no way changes the meaning of the word. The word "trousers" still is understood to mean "pants". (Plus, I've heard "trousers" used in the U.S, albeit less commonly. In fact, I've heard just "trouser" in the form of "trouser snake." Americans seem to know the word well enough to use it in that term.)

    Even if we imagine that one term is British and another American, Brits and Americans can and do speak to one another, and in that context I am reasonably certain neither would be confused by hearing the term of the other.

    That words are used in different contexts and can seem out of place when used outside a given context doesn't in any way change their meaning. An "analgesic" is a pain-killer. Outside of a hospital, you might not hear the word as often as the term "pain-killer" but that they are mean the same thing is not altered by that fact.

    If a doctor used the term "analgesic" with a patient, the patient might not recognize that term, and confusion could result. Once the definition is explained to the patient, though ("it means 'pain-killer'"), any confusion would be cleared up.
  16. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    I have heard and used the word "trousers" in the USA enough
    to know that it does not raise any eyebrows.
  17. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    I thing about trousers-pants, though, "trousers" always refers
    to a garment which covers the legs entirely, down to the the
    top of the foot. Therefore you could call short pants "pants",
    but you could not call them "trousers". The breeches worn ~1776
    were not "trousers" either.
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    And there are sweat pants, hot pants and smartypants,
    but there aren't sweat trousers, hot trousers and smartytrousers
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Da capo:

    What exactly does "it's just semantics" mean?

    When people comment on something, saying "it's just semantics" - what do they mean?

    I never use that phrase (other than in asking about it), and do not imagine ever using it.

    What prompted this thread was another recent thread asking about the difference between some words.
  20. Gustav Banned Banned


    i believe they are indicating that any additional presumptions are irrelevant to the point being made. they are asking you to ignore your derived meaning of the contentious terminology and instead conform to their take. ascertaining the validity of that demand is however, an entirely different matter

    wiki waxes....
    The word "semantics" itself denotes a range of ideas, from the popular to the highly technical. It is often used in ordinary language to denote a problem of understanding that comes down to word selection or connotation.​

    .. and we can see the devil is in the details. at most the choice of either "pants" or "trousers" appear to be fairly uncontroversial. the meaning is easily derived. inferences might consist of adducing a cultural/geographic point of origination to the speaker, the utility of which seems rather negligible and extraneous to whatever is being affirmed

    consider then a politician choosing "chink" over "asian-american". defending the usage as "just a matter of semantics" will never fly as there are then, additional and probably meaningful inferences one can deduce from that.

    so it depends, signal dear

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    /bows out
  21. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Obviously, there is a difference in which two or more words we compare, and "pants" and "trousers" are not particularly controversial, but it is not true that they are interchangeable. One cannot say "smarty-trousers" instead of "smarty-pants."

    On principle, I argue that language is rational, and that as such, there is no true redundancy or absolute interchangeability in it or its use.

    No, stay and fight!
    Where's the rigor in "it depends"?!
  22. Gustav Banned Banned


    sure you can. i can derive meaning from that uncommon conjunction. language should not be viewed as static and in a vacuum. smarty pants was coined by some smart aleck and you could do so too

    no way, bossy boots!
  23. decons scrambled egg Registered Senior Member

    I bet there is.

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