Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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1answer
698 views

Does the American English hesitation sound “uh” imply ignorance, like “d’uh”?

In British English, a pause in speech is usually marked by the word “er” or “erm” and means something like “let me think”, or “what’s the word”. There is no implication of anything other than ...
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1answer
572 views

How Many is “A Few”? [duplicate]

I'm preparing some marketing materials for my boss, and one section contains the phrase "Here are a few examples:". The list that follows contains two items, which strikes me as being incorrect, ...
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2answers
130 views

Can Whilst only be used in mid-clause?

According to this entry in the Urban Dictionary on "Whilst" (2nd definition on this page: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=whilst), it can only be used in mid-clause. I have skimmed ...
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2answers
2k views

“of both which” or “of which both”

Consider the following sentence: This takes a lot of time and money to keep going, [. . .] I have little. Which would fit best in that ellipsis? of both which of which both both of which In ...
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2answers
4k views

“noun of noun” vs. “noun+noun”?

I wonder if there is a significant difference at the semantic or pragmatic levels in using the compounds structures noun of noun or noun+noun. For example, is it the same to say "the consumption of ...
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1answer
697 views

How to organize semantically a list of words that describes the weight (or size) of objects? [closed]

Let's say I have a list of words that describes the weight (or size) of objects, like heavy, strong, light, soft. Which words should be used to have a complete semantic list from the heaviest element ...
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1answer
171 views

“Keith does not a hint take” or “A hint does Keith not take”

While wasting time on the internet (as I am wont to do), I came across a video in which somebody was criticizing a blog-post and corrected the statement *Keith does not a hint take. supplying his ...
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2answers
995 views

semantic property shared by words between class of words

What semantic property or properties are shared any words in 1 and 2? alive, asleep, dead, married, pregnant tall, smart, interesting, bad, tired I don't see any shared between those words.
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2answers
1k views

“Of which I am unaware of” & “I don't know”, semantic difference

While reading first few chapters of fascinating book "On Writing Well", this doubt struck my mind: "There are many great English writings of which I am unaware of" OR "There are many great ...
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1answer
367 views

Position of adverbial phrase [duplicate]

Is there a difference in these two sentences, and if so, what is the difference? Immediately afterwards I remembered having met her. I remembered having met her immediately afterwards. I think ...
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2answers
84 views

Three times the second integer less 4

I am learning word problems for Quantitative reasoning GRE exams. English is not my first language and I wonder if the following expression is ambiguous in English: "Three times the second integer ...
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1answer
350 views

Semantics to give correct meaning [closed]

What is the correct semantics? We can't tolerate no more. Or, We can tolerate no more. Or, We can't tolerate any more. Or, Is there any better way to express such meaning?
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3answers
3k views

Why are the notes or protocol of a meeting referred to as its 'minutes'?

A minute is 60 seconds. Something 'minute' is small, minor, perhaps short. Now, what about the minutes of a meeting or a session? As in, its written protocol? Are they called that because: The ...
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1answer
180 views

“Feeling well” adverb ambiguity

Am I just crazy, or is there some ambiguity in the phrase "feeling well"? Example: Billy has a genetic defect that causes him to lose sensation in his fingertips every few days, or so. "How are you ...
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1answer
240 views

Is there any other word meaning “prick” with initial onsets “pr-” except prick?

This is my edited question: I look up in the etymological dictionay about prick, and find that prick is not a word derived from Proto-indo-european etymon. Meanwhile, I find a lot of words meaning "...
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1answer
625 views

What does the word “Hakim” sound and feel like? [closed]

I really enjoy the connotations of words, particularly now because I'm looking for a name for something. I'd like to know what this word (hakim) sounds like to native English speakers. Obs: If there'...
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2answers
3k views

Achievement Verbs with the Progressive Aspect

I was reading a grammar and saw this. Achievement verbs describe actions that occur instantaeously. He solved the problem. He spotted the airplane. These verbs fall into two classes - one is '...
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2answers
3k views

Difference between “technically possible” and “physically possible”?

Do you think these expressions can be used interchangeably? I find little or no differene between the two meanings. Does this question need more context?
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2answers
4k views

Is there a term for two differently phrased sentences with the same meaning?

Is there a term that describes the relationship between different sentences with the same meaning, in the way "synonym" describes the relationship between different words with the same meaning? For ...
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1answer
2k views

Is “to” inclusive in “I worked at company X from April 2012 to April 2013”? [duplicate]

I have a question about the use of the word to as a time proposition. Is to inclusive in the following sentence? I worked at company X from April 2012 to April 2013.
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2answers
135 views

Is “Cutting Across the Afternoon of Life” grammatical? [closed]

I'm using this for a title of short story. The title has to reflect the last line of the story, which is as follows: A long, dark shadow cuts across the countless cubicles. I've thought of "...
2
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1answer
261 views

When a sentence contains both “not” and “or”, which one has priority?

I am changing a piece of text which current reads: Payment not deducted to also include the situation where payments are withheld. The suggested revision of text given to me is Payment not ...
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4answers
6k views

Is it acceptable to use “womyn” or “womin” instead of “women”?

I have often seen/heard these two terms in many articles and speeches about Feminism or women's rights issues. I couldn't find them in any online dictionary except for the Oxford Dictionary which ...
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3answers
130 views

Does ordering make a difference?

I would like to know whether there is a grammatical or semantical difference between "notion of " and "-notion". I do not know what to search for to answer this question so maybe someone can help me ...
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2answers
774 views

Is “I don't work here” literal or does it mean “I am not an employee of this establishment”? [closed]

Part of my work involves visiting retail establishments during business hours. Often, when mistaken for an employee of the store, I am asked a question about where to find something in the store, to ...
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2answers
160 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 ...
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7answers
65k 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." ...
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4answers
21k 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 ...
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1answer
2k 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 ...
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1answer
30k 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 ...
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2answers
15k 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 ...
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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3answers
967 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 ...
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3answers
6k 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? ...
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5answers
26k 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 ...
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4answers
428 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). ...
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3answers
127 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 ...
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
252 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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3answers
5k 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 doesn'...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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3answers
3k 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 "...
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2answers
4k 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 ...
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2answers
4k 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 ...
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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3answers
184 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 ...
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2answers
424 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
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1answer
581 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 can ...