Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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1answer
83 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 ...
-1
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1answer
109 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
68 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
63 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
votes
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
110 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
80 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
50 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.
-1
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1answer
11 views

Is the phrase “proximity span” correct?

A span is the distance between two points in this case. For example, the span of a bridge from end to end. Is it correct semantically to say the span of a proximity or distance?
0
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1answer
268 views

Semantic difference between “spectator”, “beholder”, “observer” and “viewer”

As I understand it (not being a native speaker), a beholder has a more active relation to the scene or object he is beholding. It is "in the eye of the beholder", but not in the eye of the spectator ...
1
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1answer
34 views

How shall I understand the sentence “Democrats present a Republican as the the face of the Republican Party”?

In another, he said younger Republican lawmakers “despised” Mr. Boehner. “They are repelled by his personal behavior,” he wrote. “He is louche, alcoholic, lazy, and without any commitment to any ...
0
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1answer
504 views

“confer” (“cf.”) vs “see also” [closed]

I used to think that "confer" ("cf.") is to be used to refer to another source discussing the same issue, or making the same argument etc. But it seems some (many?) people use it instead of "see ...
0
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4answers
100 views

Does it make sense to 'lift' an obligation?

I want to say that an obligation that was present previously has been removed in a new approach. Can I say that in the new approach, the obligation has been lifted?
0
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2answers
144 views

What is wrong with “cotton field”?

The news is very sad. The guy, Vester Lee Flanagan, was very crazy. (Please see the news: ...
-1
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4answers
124 views

What is the precise meaning of “preliminary to”? [closed]

Clarification: The point of this question is this: does Event A being "preliminary to" Event B require that Event B has happened or will have happened? Consider the following sentence: "Slaughter ...
-1
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2answers
205 views

“dick all” meaning nothing, AmE, slang [duplicate]

"dick" has developed a lot of meanings. Pons.eu lists five different meanings. The semantic development of most of them can be understood, but "dick all/dick" for nothing is a bit mysterious (AmE, ...
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2answers
136 views

Is the sentence “That guy will make fall in love all those girls” correct?

Is the sentence "That guy will make fall in love all those girls" correct, like "all those girls will fall in love with that guy", can I rewrite it like above? Thanks for the attention!
0
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1answer
60 views

Is the phrase “I will infatuate you” correct? [closed]

Can I say "I will infatuate that girl" or "I will infatuate you", meaning that I will do something to someone and then that someone will become infatuated with me? Does it make sense? Thanks for the ...
0
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1answer
71 views

How to interpret confusing statements involving either/or/not? [duplicate]

I have a simple problem basically I am unable to understand the meaning of some questions involving or/not, and using comma with and. I have the following questions:- 1.Whats the meaning of, say , ...
18
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8answers
2k views

Is there a term for ascribing acts of the human mind to non-human objects, and when is it appropriate to do this?

Nota bene: English isn't my native language, so when I say acts of the human mind, I attempt to generalize things such as making assumptions, drawing conclusions and (to some extent) to reject. To me ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there an opposite term for [sic]?

In academics, the note [sic] is used to make it clear that material lifted from a secondary source was incorrect as the author found it, as opposed to a mistake in the text. Is there an opposite term ...
0
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0answers
77 views

Looking for a word to semantically represent the input data to a template

I am trying to come up with a very specific semantically narrow term for the information/data that fed into a template to materialize an output. data, info, input and the like are to generic and ...
0
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1answer
97 views

Verbal compounds such as come-to-be, come-to-know, come-to-X

Reading about intellectual history and the history of natural science, I have very often come across the expression to come-to-be as a synonym for to come into being, to start to exist, to originate, ...
4
votes
1answer
170 views

What is the difference between 'ceremonial' and 'ceremonious'?

Even having looked in the OED I am still slightly unclear as to which contexts require the adjective ceremonious and which ceremonial. The OED treatment of ceremonious is as below with some of the ...
4
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3answers
447 views

Difference of “I am just an ABC” vs “I am but a XYZ”

As far as I (non-native speaker) can tell, these two sentences have the same meaning: I'm just a humble merchant I'm but a humble merchant However I wonder if there is some subtle ...
6
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3answers
212 views

“This page intentionally blank” … but it isn't!

We are all familiar with user manuals or documents with pages printed with "intentionally blank" ... but with those words on them, they are no longer blank! I'm pretty sure I saw a user manual once ...
0
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3answers
64 views

Hypernym for “query” and “report” [closed]

One hypernym for teacher and student is person. Vehicle is a hypernym of car and lorry.... Is there a hypernym for query and report?
1
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1answer
118 views

Do we plan a strategy?

Is it grammatically correct to say : "He planned a strategy".
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2answers
111 views

How to distinguish “wherefore” from “therefore” [closed]

I'm aware that the word "wherefore" can be used in the same way as "why", as in classic Shakespeare: "Wherefore art thou Romeo" (NOT meaning where). However how else can it be properly used? Please ...
3
votes
3answers
322 views

Idiom: Bear with me

The sense of this formula is clear. It means be patient with me, be tolerant/lenient. Don't be too harsh on me. But how can a verb as "to bear" develop the meaning of to be tolerant? "To bear" is an ...
2
votes
2answers
164 views

Do English speaking subcultures attach different meanings to the phrase “I'm sorry”? [duplicate]

On a recent trip the US, someone explained to me that saying "sorry" meant taking responsibility for causing the loss. Thus you should only say sorry if you intended to fix the situation. (And ...
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1answer
5k views

“I'll be sure to do something” vs “I'll for sure do something”

I'm not a native speaker but work in an English-speaking international environment. One American guy wrote me: I'll be sure to let you know We at our company usually say: I'll for sure let ...
1
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2answers
239 views

Formal definition of “nearly”

When google for "define nearly" the provided definition was: adverb very close to; almost. closely. Does this means, despite almost no one use it this way, It is semantically ...
6
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5answers
669 views

Can someone please explain the syntactic rules at work here?

I'll use an example statement that's currently being used in a radio commercial for American Family Insurance (paraphrased.) They all told me that I couldn't build my dream home by myself; but, I ...
3
votes
2answers
141 views

A sentence with double negative [closed]

I came across the following sentence in Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse Five. “Trout would have gone upstairs if Billy hadn't asked him not to.” If this sentence is considered independently, ...
0
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0answers
199 views

Does the word “writing” denote all forms of using characters to convey information?

In legal practices it is common to deliver a written notice to a defendant. This may be a physical letter or an email. This got me thinking about the meaning of written. The Oxford dictionary defines ...
4
votes
1answer
191 views

Definition of racism inconsistency?

For some dictionaries, such as the Oxford one, racism requires that prejudice/discrimination based on the belief that a race is superior/inferior. But I can't find this requirement anywhere for any ...
1
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1answer
74 views

Can “I'm springing” ever really have a present continuous meaning relating to a single spring?

As an homage to a certain kind of linguistico-philosophico question we see here now and then, I'm asking my own, since I have pressing things to do which I would like to do tomorrow, or the next day, ...
4
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1answer
264 views

How did we get ‘deft’ and ‘daffy’ from “daft”?

[ Etymonline for 'daft (adj.)'] Old English gedæfte "gentle, becoming," ... from PIE * dhabh- "to fit together" (see fabric). Sense of "mild, well-mannered" (c. 1200). [ Etymonline for ...
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1answer
122 views

Are these two sentences semantically identical? [closed]

Are these two sentences semantically identical? By using this website, you are certifying that you have read our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, you are certifying that you understand our Terms of ...
2
votes
2answers
383 views

It was nice being here vs It was nice to be here

What is more appropriate to say: It was nice being here or It was nice to be here? I hear both constructions pretty often, and am aware of the slight difference, but it seems that people use them ...
0
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0answers
1k views

The difference between issue, matter, affair and question

I'm analyzing a text on marketing and I found this paragraph that has four lexemes which are synonymous and yet there seems to exist some difference between them. This is the text (the numbers ...
0
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1answer
260 views

Last, This, and Next (days of the week) [duplicate]

I (and my interlocutors) have often experienced confusion when communicating with others regarding "last [day-of-week]", "this [day-of-week]" and "next [day-of-week]" In my mind, what is logical is ...
1
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3answers
152 views

How did 'estate' evolve to mean 'area of land or property'?

The following are definitions of the word 'estate': estate {noun} = 1. An area or amount of land or property, in particular = 3. {archaic or literary} A particular state, period, or condition ...
1
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2answers
447 views

Starting a Sentence with a Conjunction [duplicate]

My high school English teacher taught us to never start a sentence with conjunctions, but throughout the years I have seen a lot of such usage in academic writings and novels. I have also read various ...
0
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2answers
188 views

“Any object in A and B”—What does it mean?

Does "any object in A and B" in English mean any object in A and any object in B; any object in A or any object in B; or any object in the intersection of A and B? Thanks a lot. Another ...
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2answers
65 views

Usage of the noun 'news'

I would like to ask you a question concerning the noun 'news'. I am aware that as an uncountable noun, it is, thus, not possible to use the indefinite article preceding it. I am a bit unsure, ...
0
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1answer
135 views

The tiger VS. tigers [closed]

Using just 'species' (for the sake of simplicity and consistency), the author's judgments can be summarized as follows: • (39a) the species of the tiger = (marginally) OK • (39b) the species of ...
0
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3answers
72 views

Origin of using “left” as something we still have [closed]

People express a quantity of something they still have (but is finding away) by using the word "left". Time left: 2 hours Where does this usage originates from. If one depicts a timeline, it ...