Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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5
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2answers
145 views

How to analyze lightly varying senses of adjective *very*

Use of very as an adjective is (in my experience) most frequently attested in phrases like ...the very person I was looking for. To use adjective very with the indefinite article sounds quite ...
12
votes
7answers
25k views

Is the phrase “it's just a matter of semantics” meaningless?

I hear this phrase from time to time, and I really don't know what it means. Two people are debating, and one says "the difference between your position and mine is just a matter of semantics." ...
2
votes
4answers
8k views

Is it appropriate to write RIP for expressing grief? [closed]

I came to this question after I saw a Facebook post about someone who passed away with everyone posting rip as a comment. Wikipedia tells me the following about the abbreviation of RIP: "Rest in ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Guidelines for interpretation of “all but a few”

For a clause of the type [all but a few X] [Y], there seem to be two possible interpretations. The first one is "Y is the case for all things/people/places, except for a few X," as in the following ...
4
votes
1answer
14k views

Christmas: Christ + Mas? [closed]

What is the meaning of Christmas in the English language? Christ + mas = Christmas? Is it because Christ is associated with a cross that it sometimes reads X-mas? And where is the mas coming ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

“Don't condescend to me” or “Don't condescend me”? [closed]

I've recently heard that the correct usage is "Don't condescend to me", but I've always used "Don't condescend me". Google has mixed quotes. Which is the correct usage? The dictionary has this ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“I wouldn't ever” vs. “I would never”

The two expressions from the title, “I wouldn't ever” and “I would never”, are very similar. But are they completely equivalent or do they bear any subtle differences? If so, how do they differ in ...
-1
votes
3answers
707 views

Semantic difference between “if I did not want” and “if I wanted”

I was reading My Antonia and came across this line: [She] asked me if I did not want to go to the garden with her (12) And was wondering why Cather chose if I did not want over if I wanted. Are ...
1
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3answers
2k views

Difference between “boundary” and “limit” [closed]

Is there a difference between the semantics of the two words boundary and limit? Is it possible that only one of the two has an inclusive meaning regarding the set we want the limit/boundary of? ...
7
votes
4answers
10k views

“Postfix” or “suffix”?

Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary were not much help — is there a practical difference in the semantics of suffix and postfix, except that the latter is more rare? File name extensions are well ...
3
votes
4answers
286 views

“Your interview with him.” Who is the interviewer?

You write something like this: I'm interested in your interview with Barack Obama. Most people would take this to mean that it was Obama who was the interviewee (the one answering questions). ...
1
vote
3answers
114 views

Does “allegedly made a drug that does X” or “made a drug that allegedly does X” sound better? [closed]

As an engineering-type fellow, I was thinking about this article about a drug that replaces sleep. It occurred to me that I could frame it in two ways: Scientists allegedly created a drug that ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

“for good” expression in an unfortunate event?

I just heard an expression while watching a TV series yesterday. Someone just died and they said: He is gone for good I googled it and found that "for good" means "forever" in this context. But ...
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

phrases where opposite words can be used to mean the same thing [closed]

For example "1 in 20 Americans suffer from..." and "1 out of 20 Americans suffer from..." "it is down to you" and "it is up to you" They seem like great ways to add to creative writing. Are there ...
4
votes
2answers
194 views

Does this phrase mean what I want it to mean?

I want to say that "the value decreases at a rate at least x" (i.e. faster than or equal to x). Does the phrase "the value decreases at minimum rate x" mean the same thing? If not, is there any other ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “want” a causative verb?

I've always held on to the definition that Causative Verbs express how the Noun before the Verb influences the execution of an action. Similarly, the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

How to Identify a Rhetorical Question?

I am familiar with the idea of a rhetorical question, but are there any criteria to mark or identify one? Can a rhetorical question be recognized alone or does it need surrounding context? It ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a clear delineation between the usages of 'this' and 'that' in American English?

One of my linguistics professors speaks English as a second language, and remarked that she never knows which of the two is appropriate. Given a list of examples, all native speakers in the classroom ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Indicator vs. Indication

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the following definitions. Indicator - "one that indicates" Indication - "something that serves to indicate" How are they different? Is saying that an ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What is the distinction between terms 'where', 'while', 'whereas' and 'whenever'? [closed]

It seems all of these four words can denote 'at the same time' or 'if and only if', but do the meanings of them identical? Update: e.g. Day comes where the sun rises. Day comes whereas the sun ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Is it correct to use the word “then” to imply something of the past?

I am trying to identify something that was once a new thing. I used the word "then" to imply the subject as something that is already a past. But I am not sure if this is grammatically and ...
1
vote
0answers
1k views

Differences between 'Ideology' and 'Paradigm'? [closed]

What are the differences between the terms 'ideology' and 'paradigm'? paradigm: the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time. ideology: an orientation that ...
1
vote
1answer
784 views

“Is” with singular and plural nouns

I came across the sentence My biggest grievance is grammar mistakes. I'd be inclined to write it as My biggest grievance is with grammar mistakes. or Grammar mistakes are my biggest ...
2
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3answers
163 views

Fact in Fiction [closed]

Is a fact implied within fictional literature still a fact actually? Imagine this real-life conversation: Person 1: "Does Deadpool have better healing abilities than Wolverine?" Person 2: "I ...
0
votes
2answers
322 views

“bio“ VS “autobiography“ for a text field where users fill up their life stories (or histories)

The Oxford English Dictionary states that bio is an informal form of biography and biography An account of someone’s life written by someone else. So... Would it be more accurate to use ...
4
votes
1answer
366 views

Trouble with second conditionals (with “could”)

I would do B if you could do A. This is a statement which has been bothering me for quite a while. I come across such statements often and, to me, they make no sense. Could is the subjunctive of ...
2
votes
7answers
5k views

I'll take you home / I'll bring you home

Being both non-natives, I had some discussion today about the following situation: suppose you're at a party and you want to take/bring your drunk buddy home. I believe that: "I'll take you home" ...
7
votes
5answers
3k views

What exactly is “verbal irony”

My daughter has been given the task - by me - of explaining irony. She identified and did a jolly good job of explaining 5 of the 6 apparent types of irony: dramatic, cosmic, socratic, situational, ...
1
vote
3answers
549 views

Does *tourist* have a derogatory connotation of *inexperienced* or any other meanings in the clip of Ice Age3? [closed]

As a major in tourism, I've already acknowledged that tourists' notoriety among the destination dwellers by taking pictures of anything,disregarding the unwritten rules ... Here I will not go on to ...
1
vote
1answer
197 views

Is this sentence well formed? [closed]

I want a well formed sentence in english GB and US (two sentences if necessary…) from this french sentence: Cette page n'existe pas dans cette langue. Voici son contenu original : Here is what ...
4
votes
3answers
370 views

Does the word “catching” apply to people?

If we can say "I am running to catch the train", is it also appropriate to say that "I am going to the office early to catch the boss"?
1
vote
5answers
156 views

Precedence: and > or?

The question Precedence of “and” and “or” asks if there is any notion of precedence ordering in the English and it would seem not, based on the answers. Regardless of that, if you saw the following ...
3
votes
4answers
301 views

It is an existential question

A question on another site asks, I have a laptop ... Now I am trying to install Windows 7 and it shows a message saying "Driver not found". Whereupon a commenter asks, What is the "it" that shows ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Can we call a person who loses things a “loser”?

Think > Thinker Draw > Drawer Can we call a person who loses thing a loser? Of course, I do not mean that they are not successful or failed but what should I call them?
1
vote
4answers
616 views

Does a claim have to be explicit?

I have heard the claim that a claim must be explicit by definition, but do not see any definition that supports this. An example of how "implicit claim" is used from this Wikipedia page on ...
4
votes
3answers
306 views

“Life finishes” vs “life is finished”

To convey that someone arrives at the end of his life or simply dies, which sentence is more correct or more common? I prefer the first. His life finishes. His life is finished. If the ...
2
votes
6answers
780 views

Is 'low speed' finally proving its merit?

Technically, you should expect the term low speed, not slow speed (which is obviously illogical). However, it seems the two phrases co-existed as long as one can look back: with low speed fighting ...
3
votes
3answers
519 views

Using the gerund “Starting”

Does the gerund clause Starting in imply the future tense? For example, is this correct? Starting in January, 2012, we will use public transportation. Or is it proper to use the following: ...
5
votes
3answers
456 views

What's the semantic difference between “overrated” and “overvalued”?

I often see those two words used together like "overrated & overvalued". That implies that they have different connotations. I wonder if that's really the case or they are used together just for ...
3
votes
1answer
476 views

Meaning of “Which two of the following…?” versus “Which of the two following…?”

I've just taken a multiple-choice test and one of the questions read like this: "Which of the following two statements about effectiveness of control measures are false?" To answer this ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Use of “promise”, “guarantee”, “swear” and “assure” for future and past

Can verbs such as promise, guarantee, swear and assure be used to mean convince others that something will (not) happen in the future or did (not) happen in the past? In other words, are they used for ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

“Doubt” vs. “suspect” [closed]

I have never used doubt or suspect properly before. Now I understand that they seem to bear quite the opposite meanings in a sentence. For example, Everybody believes him, but I suspect he is ...
1
vote
2answers
595 views

Does a comparative always need to compare with something?

As I understand it, comparatives compare with something. So something that is colder is more cold than another thing. However, can't a word like colder be used as an adjective without being compared ...
3
votes
5answers
5k views

Difference between “fluency” and “fluidity”

Fluent seems to most commonly refer to language mastery, but in that context isn't it just saying that its delivery is fluid? If so, am I communicating something different when using one over another ...
6
votes
4answers
304 views

Does “If X discovers that Y is Z” imply that Y is Z?

Related Question: Entailment/Presupposition in if-clause. Consider the sentence "If John discovers that Mary is in New York, he will get angry." Does this imply that Mary is in New York now? Is ...
-2
votes
2answers
883 views

What is a semantic script?

Recently, there was a question about 'semantic roles', and someone explained them to me here. It was great. So, I was hoping someone may also know what "semantic scripts" are. I've tried searching ...
7
votes
2answers
229 views

Is there any semantic difference between “absolutely no x, except y” and “except y, absolutely no x”?

Bit of a quibble on a discussion elsewhere. I made the following statement: They had absolutely no debt, except for their mortgage. Someone (with whom I disagree vehemently) has accused this of ...
0
votes
1answer
85 views

Does “establish” imply a chronological ordering?

The context is actually mathematics, and providing a proof for a particular fact. If one says "... which was established by Smith." does this have the connotation that Smith was the first to do it? ...
0
votes
2answers
499 views

What are the semantic roles of the nouns following the adjective 'suspicious' in this sentence?

'A suspicious policeman looked at a suspicious man.' Can anybody define the semantic roles of the nouns which follow the adjective 'suspicious' in the above sentence?
0
votes
1answer
2k views

“No need to hurry yet…”

This question is from a diagnostic test of one ESL school in Bangkok. Ann wonders how much time she has to work on her assigned project. Her teacher says, “No need to hurry yet ________” a) ...