Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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1answer
17 views

-er vs -ing when characterizing someone

For example someone wants to use both their nationality and occupation in their nickname (e.g. serb and coder), what is a better choice: coding serb coder serb I understand basic semantic ...
7
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3answers
1k views

What do “former” and “latter” refer to, here?

Here I am trying to peer into the meaning of this below paragraph (full version here).Being a non-native English speaker I am struggling in making sense, especially the bold part.The paragraph : ...
1
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1answer
37 views

Archaic verb form “bare”, its semantics

In King James Bible, John 12:6 we read: This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. As said here, bare is archaic ...
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4answers
64 views

Grammar rules governing a phrase from the US Constitution:

The U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 5 reads No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall ...
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4answers
295 views

A word or short phrase to reduce the influence of something

When talking about depression, I prefer to use positive/active words as opposed to combative or oppressive words. I'm looking for a word that fits in this sentence that is active and positive: I ...
4
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5answers
270 views

“Are YOU coming to get me” / “Are you coming to GET me” Is there any grammatical or semantic difference?

Is there any grammatical or semantic difference between the phrases: "Are you coming to get me?"—used to imply the question of whether that particular person is coming to get whoever. And this ...
3
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0answers
38 views

Doubt about the relationships in the Semantic Triangle [migrated]

I was reading the wiki on The Semantic TriangleWikipedia, but it is not as good, so I have few doubts: As I read on many places an example for the vertices could be (I may have written ...
1
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2answers
54 views

A word that defines something that is valuable for its lack of function and productive value?

I'm looking for a word that means "something valuable (intrinsically) because of its dysfunctional nature that makes it unnapealing for profit or production."
1
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2answers
70 views

Should we use the word “Actually” before a sentence? [closed]

Someone asked to me about some particular information. I replied to the email like this:- Hi, "Actually I was assigned the following task by my Manager"........ Is it grammatically correct to start ...
2
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1answer
63 views

An Example of Lexical Semantic Ambiguity?

As a joke, is A seal walks into a club... an example of semantic ambiguity, lexical ambiguity, or the expression I just recently discovered, lexical semantic ambiguity? Or put another way, is ...
0
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1answer
52 views

Best form for language [closed]

I would like to compile lists of activities, things, actions etc. that are relevant in an engineering context. A common rule is to use a verb-object form when creating lists in an attempt to present ...
1
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0answers
28 views

Use of conditionals with the word accuracy [closed]

When I get questions in the form "(do something) to achieve at least 5% accuracy (in the final result)", I interpret this as meaning that the obtained result must be different from the desired result ...
3
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2answers
66 views

If this is really accepted usage, can somebody explain its logic to me?

I guess it's just me, but this kind of sentence: "All the elephant trainers have not been informed of this decision." ...seems misleading to me; what is meant (which can be deduced from the context) ...
0
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1answer
24 views

How to use the expression “loser hands”? [closed]

I heard sentences which involved the expression "loser hands", e.g. "this is one of the loser hands" (with reference to some concept which someone had expressed perplexity about). Which is the ...
-1
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1answer
43 views

Is it technically correct to say I have “one exam” if I actually have four exams? [duplicate]

If a college student asks one of his fellow students the question: Do you have one exam? and the student replies: Yes, I have one exam. when he actually has four exams, is the answer ...
1
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2answers
35 views

Are these rhetorical questions?

According to Google: A rhetorical question is a question that you ask without expecting an answer. The question might be one that does not have an answer. It might also be one that has an obvious ...
1
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3answers
42 views

a time frame for

I'm wondering how you understand the following sentence: There is a ten year time frame for the implementation of the new policies. Does it mean that the new policies are supposed to be ...
1
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2answers
68 views

Semantics of 'the extent which' vs 'the extent TO which'

'the extent which'    vs    2. 'the extent to which' : 3. Semantically, how do these compare? I know that to is a preposition and so a Functional Morpheme, but does 'to' affect anything ...
1
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3answers
77 views

Opposite of honorary member

Defining a honorary member as a person which isn't actually a member of an organization but is recognized as such by the organization because of his/her contributions to the organization or society as ...
9
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8answers
631 views

Why is this use of the word “meaning” not quite right?

Today one of my students gave me some writing as part of her preparation for a Cambridge Proficiency exam. She was describing how after she'd moved away to go to university she'd temporarily lost ...
2
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1answer
59 views

Is there any relation between the meanings of the word “cataract”?

Oxford defines "cataract" as "a steep waterfall" as well as gives the more common meaning of the word i.e. the medical condition that causes a loss of sight. Also, "cataract", as meaning ...
1
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2answers
61 views

How should I use “as” and what is its semantic nuance?

I wrote a sentence that didn't sound right to my ears. As a leader, he did not act accordingly. What I intended to say was: even though he was the leader, he did not act accordingly, as he ...
2
votes
1answer
34 views

Does the use of “until” entail that the verb in “until” will happen?

For example, in a sentence like This machine will keep working until the button is pressed. Does this entail that the button will be pressed? Is a sentence like This machine will keep ...
1
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2answers
369 views

What is a non-awkward way of referencing your child[ren] to a 3rd party of the opposite gender as yourself?

Here's the situation: You and your spouse are talking with a third person who is of the opposite gender as yourself. e.g., my wife and I are talking with a woman named - let's call her Joan. If I'm ...
2
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1answer
53 views

Indolence vs lassitude? [closed]

I came across this sentence: "Jim and Huck spent days of indolent lassitude on the craft." I wasn't quite sure what to make of the phrase 'indolent lassitude' because to my mind they both sort of ...
6
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2answers
186 views

Historical differences in usage of “Mrs” for “mistress” or “missus”

The title Mrs. stands for mistress, but some English native speakers claim mistress is only used to indicate the woman with whom one has an (illicit) affair and that missus is the long version of Mrs. ...
0
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1answer
87 views

Split horizontally or vertically – which one is which?

Given some object, you can split it with a horizontal cut into two objects that are laid out vertically (above each other), or you can split it with a vertical cut into two objects that are laid out ...
0
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3answers
170 views

Is “exceptioned” a word?

The question is a little more complex than the title states. Exceptioned is not in the dictionary. But I am not trying to use this as a verb. I work in IT. We keep a list of exceptioned words that we ...
3
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2answers
92 views

'A / One / At least one student entered the room.' Are these the same? (truth-conditionally)

I just wonder if the two following sentences are truth-conditionally the same. Sentence 1 essentially means there existed a student who entered the room, and this situation includes two, three or more ...
0
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1answer
64 views

What is the right way to say “has recovered to within a threshold”?

Let's take the following sentence: X has recovered to within the maximum threshold of Y. What's really the right way to say this? Some ideas that come to mind are: to within the maximum ...
0
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1answer
113 views

Force somebody to do something vs. force somebody into doing something

Is there a difference between 'to force somebody to do something' and 'force somebody into doing something'? What about other expressions like 'persuade sb to do/into doing sth', 'trick sb to do/into ...
0
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1answer
40 views

“going through someone's car” [closed]

I encountered the following sentence: He and two friends were going through someone's car and someone caught them and shot at them, killing my student. What does "go through someone's car" mean? ...
1
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1answer
75 views

Midnight semantics

I received an email with a discount code valid 'until Saturday midnight' but when I went to use it on Saturday lunchtime it had expired already, at 00:00 Saturday morning. My understanding was that ...
3
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1answer
241 views

Abstract nouns: countable and uncountable

What is the element that causes many abstract nouns to be both countable and uncountable (not with different meanings)? To illustrate the point, a word like taste as a noun when it means "the ...
3
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1answer
113 views

difference between the prefix “un” and “not” [closed]

is there any plausible way to seperate the semantics of undefined - not defined or undetermined - not determined ?
1
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1answer
81 views

Nag vs. Complain

I read a text in which a guy was complaining to his friend about school. I noticed the title of the passage was "nagging". But as far as I know nag means "annoy someone by complaining a lot about ...
1
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0answers
43 views

What does it mean when someone uses two periods? [duplicate]

In past communications with non-native English speakers, I occasionally see the use of two periods. Some examples: Ok.. let's meet soon. Sounds good.. Thursday Meeting.. This seems to ...
1
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1answer
57 views

Medium or medium-sized?

We say a medium-sized pan/book/house, but medium height/amount/size. But I came across an example in Cambridge Advanced learner's Dictionary: "Chop one medium carrot." I wonder if we can use medium ...
0
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0answers
54 views

Shown doing: is it the grammatical passive?

I encountered this sentence today. The man is shown robbing the store. It is perfectly clear that this sentence is in passive form. However, if I reconvert it back to the active form, the ...
3
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1answer
54 views

scope of 'everybody': infelicitous use of 'it'

Irene Heim claims the second 'it' is not felicitously used in this sequence of words. It must sound awkward. Everybody found a cat and kept it. It ran away. (source: (5) on page 225 of 'File Change ...
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6answers
154 views

To make your personal enemy or rival

I'm watching the GOP debate, and I'm noticing that some candidates are picking on Hillary. Is there a verb for an act where a person castigates someone else in hopes of making that person his or her ...
0
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1answer
75 views

Usage of “hitch"

I always see the expression “his breath hitched” or “his breathing hitched.” However, as far as I can tell in the dictionary, the word “hitched” does not denote anything I can relate to breathing. Of ...
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1answer
102 views

Is there a group called 'meaningless sentences'?

Some sentences, like I am dead, I am lying, I am sleeping etc. do not convey a meaning. Is there a grammatical class or any other grouping for such expressions?
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3answers
33 views

Does using 2 Present Simple verbs create ambiguity in their ordering?

One of the Facebook configuration features has the following label: "If you don't want a Facebook account after you pass away, you can request to have your account permanently deleted." My friend ...
4
votes
1answer
66 views

John ate vs John is too stubborn to talk to

I was intrigued by an observation made by Noam Chomsky in this video, namely that if we take the sentence John ate an apple and drop an apple to get John ate John ate an apple. John ate. we ...
2
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2answers
61 views

Understanding use of “Pragmatic” in language [closed]

I struggle with the use of the word pragmatic in everyday language. And in this post, I hope to get as much input as possible. In a recent tweet, a guy asked Ann Coulter "what is you're alternative ...
59
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8answers
16k views

If cow = beef, pig = pork, and deer = venison, then where is the word for human = [flesh as food source]?

Maybe it's the season of Halloween, because it's kind of a grim question, but I have seriously wondered from a language point of view - is there a word for human as 'food-meat', or has there ever ...
0
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0answers
98 views

Familiar 'you know' or 'you think you know'

When you say "This place is familar", Do you mean 'you know this place' or 'you think you know this place but aren't sure' ? What about the noun phrase "a familiar place"? You say "That girl looks ...
0
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2answers
78 views

Meaning of “for each man, seven of every eight women are ineligible marriage partners.”

I couldn't understand the meaning of this sentence: The Mundugumors of New Guinea extend the incest taboo so far as for each man seven of eight women are ineligible marriage partners. I would ...
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1answer
49 views

Can I refer to the object of the previous list item with “it”?

Is it ambiguous to use it to refer to the dog in the following sentence? I was seen driving the car, hitting the dog, and burying it.