Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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2answers
403 views

Improper usage of “subsequently” in the latest Futurama episode?

In the latest Futurama episode, called Cold Warriors, the professor says the following: The common cold died out 500 years ago and subsequently humanity lost all resistance to its ravages. ...
1
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1answer
549 views

Does the phrase “will ever be” include the past?

A colleague of mine told me that "Right now you are the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be." I don't believe this is the case. In my mind, the idea that he is trying to ...
5
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4answers
402 views

What's the proper interpretation of: “I was kissed by a girl twice”?

The other day I experienced two distinct but similar events. I wanted to convey this to a friend and this is what came to mind: "I was kissed by a girl twice." My question is, does this sentence say, ...
7
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1answer
3k views

Difference between “subsequently” and “consequently”?

When studying and reading course material in "softer" sciences that are descriptive the word "subsequently" appears in a way like "and subsequently" ...what does it mean, disctinct from "consequently" ...
2
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2answers
321 views

Etymology and meaning of “discretionary” [closed]

I found this sentence on a page about MyPyramid: There is one other category: Discretionary calories, represented by the narrow tip of each colored band, including items such as candy, ...
5
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4answers
29k views

What is the difference between syntax and semantics? [closed]

As a computer scientist and a writing hobbyist, I really ought to know these terms' meanings for memory. Can anyone clarify the difference between syntax and semantics, and provide some examples? For ...
0
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4answers
613 views

What does “The power to be strong” mean, and is it valid English?

I was reading Microsoft Encarta and in a part of it, Nietzsche’s ideology was put forward as: "For Nietzsche the power to be strong was the greatest value in life" Isn't "the power to be strong" ...
0
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1answer
1k views

Is there a difference between “select of your own choosing [something]” and “select [something] of your own choosing”?

What is the semantic difference between "select of your own choosing a partner" and "select a partner of your own choosing"? Slightly awkward grammar aside, the first seems to suggest that the choice ...
1
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3answers
749 views

“Write out a prescription” vs. “make out a prescription”

Are "write out a prescription" and "make out a prescription" used more or less interchangeably?
5
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7answers
3k views

What is the meaning of “run someone out of town”?

I know it's hard to understand a sentence without context, but what situation comes naturally to your mind when you hear the following sentence? She ran the mayor out of town.
5
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6answers
1k views

Do we compile the source or the binaries?

When programming, we usually write text files in some programming language. These source files are fed into a compiler that compiles them into binary files. My question is whether to say: we ...
1
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2answers
252 views

Relationship words for a 'Semantic Network' and also a Sentence Dilemma

The two sentences below are for a user input form for a semantic network. It is a standard, HTML-based form with two drop down menus (the square brackets represent the drop-down menus). Users use the ...
5
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2answers
309 views

“If the bowl had been stronger, my song had been longer.”

In the original version of the nursery rhyme, The Wise Men of Gotham, the word 'had' is used in the main clause of a sentence where it seems modern English would commonly use 'would have'. The full ...
2
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3answers
134 views

Instantaneous interpretation of disjoined events over a duration

What is the correct interpretation of a sentence with two events occurring during some time span joined by "or"? It seems that the scope of "or" doesn't change in either case. For example: Today ...
18
votes
8answers
4k views

Does “criticism” imply positive as well as negative?

I thought I was always taught at school that criticism meant evaluation and opinion, either positive or negative. These days, it seems criticism, or to criticise, is almost exclusively used to mean ...
3
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6answers
18k views

Syntactically correct, semantically incorrect sentence

How would I answer the following programming exercise? It's trying to emphasize the difference between semantics and syntax. Write an English sentence that has correct syntax but has semantic ...
4
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1answer
794 views

What does this mean: “Credit card balance within $2000 of card limit”?

I'm trying to create an alert on my credit card so that I get a text message when the total charges on my credit card go over $1000. Let's say my credit card limit is $3000. If I set the alert to ...
1
vote
3answers
197 views

Depression and happiness

Are "depression" and "happiness" antonyms? Are they mutually exclusive? Does the absence of one imply the presence of the other? (I am trying to ascertain the semantic validity of using ...
5
votes
5answers
5k views

Use of “Might” and “Might not”

I know "Might" and "Might not" means the lack of certainty, but is there an implied probability in the use of these terms? In other words, does "I might be coming" imply that "It is extremely likely ...
4
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4answers
2k views

One who objectifies women

Is there a single word or short phrase to describe someone who treats women like objects? Is there a similar word/phrase for who objectifies other people in general?
8
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2answers
163 views

A question of interpretation: single word parenthesis

To my mind this: Entity foo varies seemingly at random. is semantically equivalent to this: Entity foo varies, seemingly, at random. However, is this necessarily the case? What ...
2
votes
7answers
151 views

Can something be “exactly” and “probably”?

I was watching a breakfast show the other day and a reporter was at a museum where they had an exhibition that the lady said was: Exactly like what the scientists think the surface of Mars is ...
0
votes
1answer
11k views

“Query” vs. “Inquiry”

What is the difference between the words "inquiry" and "query?" I tend to associate the latter with technology (e.g., search engine queries), but I'm not sure what the actual meaning is.
4
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3answers
198 views

Does a nominative sentence suggest that a characteristic is more of a permanent feature?

Scenario: Someone steals a pen and is asked: 'Did you steal the pen?' They reply: 'No' It is said to them: 'You are a liar.' Does this nominative sentence not suggest that they are a liar as a ...
19
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4answers
28k views

“Liberty” versus “freedom”

What is the difference, if any, between liberty and freedom? Does it convey the same meaning if "Status of liberty" is replaced with "status of freedom" ? or every occurrence of "liberty" in ...
3
votes
3answers
134 views

“Mysterious” vs. “Perplexing”

Is there a difference between 'mysterious' and 'perplexing' when used with regard to some unexplained phenomena?
3
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5answers
523 views

What can't you describe without a picture?

What do you call objects, or kinds of objects, that cannot be described without visual aids?
12
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5answers
10k views

“Satire” versus “sarcasm”

I looked up the two words on wikitionary & got this: satire: A literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or ...
2
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2answers
6k views

“Quote” vs “estimate” (business context)

I'm interested in the semantic implications of using the words quote and estimate in a business scenario. Here's the situation: When someone wants to purchase a service that I provide, they can fill ...
3
votes
5answers
347 views

Is it safe to equate 'less evil' to 'more good'?

We had a bit of a debate with this one. He, a native speaker (unlike me) went for: "less evil" implies that you are comparing evil people and "more good" implies that you are comparing good people ...
34
votes
7answers
2k views

Does apologizing entail recognizing being at fault?

Consider this example: I'm sorry if you got the impression that I meant to insult you. That was not my intention. Would it be correct to say that the above person apologized? All the ...
13
votes
5answers
652 views

Can one “marry one's wife”?

I was vacantly reading the paper the other day when I came across a strange formation in the obituary: "he married his wife in 19XX". I was rather taken aback by this; surely he can't marry his own ...
9
votes
4answers
39k views

Is a thumb also a finger?

The thumb has a different name compared to the other fingers (index, middle, ring, little) and it does not end with "finger". Also, when referring to the hand, I have seen literature where it is ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How are pronouns resolved?

Are pronouns in English resolved syntactically or semantically? Do they always refer to the closest matching noun? A wikipedia article has these examples: We gave the bananas to the monkeys ...
7
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5answers
33k views

Is “including but not limited to” a redundant phrase?

Doesn't "including" imply the "not limited to"?
9
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5answers
1k views

What is the semantic difference between “encipher” and “encrypt”?

What is the semantic difference between encipher and encrypt?