Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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8
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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 ...
14
votes
4answers
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 ...
2
votes
6answers
919 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 ...
34
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
424 views

What is the grammatical construction in “Be but sworn”?

I have found several questions asking for the meaning, but the thing that troubles me here is the grammar actually and i haven't found anything on that. In Shakespeare's sentence "Deny thy father ...
13
votes
5answers
693 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
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, ...
4
votes
6answers
297 views

Is there a functional difference between “not believing” and “believing not”?

If you tell your friend some incredible story and they say, "I don't believe you!" It seems like they are pretty obviously trying to say that they believe that your story isn't true. I have someone ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

“A and B both are” vs. “A and B are both” vs. “Both A and B are” vs. “Both of A and B are”?

A and B both are very good; A and B are both very good. Both A and B are very good. Both of A and B are very good. Are there subtle differences between the four sentences above?
10
votes
3answers
2k 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?
8
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 ...
0
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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.
12
votes
4answers
17k 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 ...
18
votes
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
466 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
114 views

Is it wrong to use 'not" in sentences that have an “all…not” form

All of the women in the district did not vote for the lone female candidate. What, if any, is the semantic problem in the above sentence? I was suggested the following sentence by my senior ...
13
votes
5answers
62k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
5k 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" ...
4
votes
3answers
141 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
319 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
236 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
722 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
493 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
161 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
362 views

Semantics of “This is for good” [closed]

What is the meaning of "This is for good"? Does it mean this is final, this is so for a good reason or maybe this is good like it is? I couldn't find a good reference for it.
0
votes
1answer
34 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
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 ...