There is no such thing as "just semantics"!

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

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I would point out that in English, hyphenation generally binds two words together into a compound word. This is a new word whose definition may have very little relation to the meaning of either of the components. "Smarty-pants" is a good example, since it has nothing to do with the clothing of the person being insulted.

    Compound words are often misleading if interpreted literally. As Gallagher points out, a "parkway" is actually a place where we drive, whereas a "driveway" is a place where we park.
    This falls under my observation that "there are no absolutes in life, including this one." Language may be largely rational, but they all have their irrational idiosyncrasies. As I just pointed out in the thread about technical terms, two languages as closely related as English and German use their cognate prepositions in much different ways. Which one is the more logical, "I will write this in English," or Ich wird das auf deutsch schreiben." ["Auf" is cognate with English "up," but is also used to mean "on."]
    Depends? That's an entirely different type of pants.

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  3. decons scrambled egg Registered Senior Member

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    Language is a dynamic and evolving tool, not a holy thing. There is no single, transcendental, fixed standard or ground to determine the meaning of any word. Otherwise, there would be no poetry.

    Its value is based on its usability and as long as it helps to communicate, it is usable. "4" and "for" are now interchangeable in sms text talk, but not in an academic text.
     
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you for having faith in me, and in people.


    Pretty please?

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    I'll let you choose whether to call yourself "pot," or "kettle."

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  7. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Which is how there is no true redundancy or absolute interchangeability in language or its use.
     
  8. Ickyrus Registered Senior Member

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    How about defining a new word that is exactly interchangeable? If language is dynamic and growing then it should/would/could/maybe possible to define a word that is exactly interchangeable with another. Maybe this idea would be regarded as cheating or is it Just-semantics

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  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Within a few years, certainly with a generation, people will have found a reason to give them slightly different connotations.

    If nothing else, it's quite possible that one community (regional, professional, religious, ethnic, etc.) will standardize on one and another one will choose the other, perhaps for phonetic convenience (e.g., the Afro-American demographic has a slight preference for words that do not end in consonant clusters), or because one word is similar to another word that has a bad cachet in that community (e.g., as noted in another thread, Americans "root" for our favorite sports team but other anglophone countries have a slang word "root" with sexual connotations, perhaps a dialect pronunciation of "rut" in the British regions where the luck/look merger has taken place).
     
  10. Lawsinium Registered Senior Member

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    32
    But I'm just curious why are there exceptions to the rules in the english language?

    Like for example, mouse is to mice, but not house is to hice?

    The word their can be used as singular or plural!

    What is the difference between me, I and myself?

    Any thoughts???
     
  11. Ellie Banned Banned

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  12. Lawsinium Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks Ellie:

    And of course if we don't need spelling, why do we need words in the first place?

    Why I say spelling is not important...lol

    Fi yuo cna raed teh praagaprh bleow, yuo hvae a graet mnid lkie mien....ahahaha

    I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I wsa rdanieg. Teh phonmneal pweor of teh hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch ta Cmabrigde Uinsrevity, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr teh ltteres in a wrod aer, teh olny iproamtnt tinhg is tath hte frsit and lsat ltteer be in teh rghit pclae. Teh rset anc be a taotl mses adn yuo cna sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae teh hmuan mnid deos nto raed ervey lteter by istlef, btu the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling wsa ipmorantt!
     
  13. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    Spelling IS important.
    I once saved my company several thousand pounds by realising that the contract we were working to had the word "discreet" instead of "discrete" (as it should have been) written into it.
     
  14. Pineal Banned Banned

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    I don't think it is possible. Whatever made up word you chose would also have nuances of meaning - unintended ones - because of the words it sounded like and the emotional tenor of the sounds.

    Meaning is not in the word and even a coiner cannot control meaning completely.

    Meaning is what happens in the listeners readers - including the one speaking/writing as one of these.
     

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