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Jul
24
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@rogermue, are you suggesting I follow the advice of Lewis Carroll's Humpty Dumpty? goodreads.com/quotes/…
Jul
24
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@rogermue, it would only be time-consuming to find such an example if such an example were time-consuming to find (tautology). It sounds like you're admitting that to be the case then, which only bolsters my point that the vast majority of lists (and it's easy to find lists of oxymorons) do not respect the distinction between "false" and "true" oxymorons.
Jul
23
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
rogermue, to be clear, I completely understand the distinction you're making, as does @Spork. We're not disagreeing that such a distinction can be made. Nor do we disagree that such a distinction is useful. Merely, it's that I cannot find an authoritative source that makes that distinction. Can you? I would like to see such a source, because I truly believe the distinction that you (and many, many others) have made is useful, I just don't see it supported by usage, either formal or informal.
Jul
23
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@rogermue, it's easy to dismiss individual examples as "things on the internet", but I've also mentioned textbooks from more than 30 years ago with "pretty ugly" as an example. And, do you not find it interesting that both answers here cite single sources, both of which contradict their points? I.e., both sites cited for the two answers either directly include "pretty ugly" or they include something similar (e.g., "awfully pretty"). Can you find a site other than Wikipedia that does not? (Note that the Wikipedia site used to include it.)
Jul
23
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@Karasinsky, there are several lists of oxymorons out there, both on-line and off. I know that in my high-school textbook, "pretty ugly" was listed as an oxymoron. Now, having taught high-school physics myself, I know that high-school textbooks have errors in them. However, I also see "pretty ugly" in all but two of the lists of oxymorons I have found, one of which includes "awfully pretty" which falls into the same category. So, other than the Wikipedia list (which used to have it, until an editor removed it), can you locate a list of oxymorons without it or similar oxymorons?
Jul
23
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@rogermue, the site you provide lists "awfully pretty" as an example of an oxymoron. How does that usage differ from "pretty ugly"?
Jul
17
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@Robusto, then how can the majority of people be wrong about a technical classification under that framework?
Jul
17
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
@Robusto, on the contrary, I'm saying that descriptivism posits that the technical classification of a term is defined by how it is actually used. I'm surprised I need to clarify this at this site, but here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_description Also, it's perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition or to boldly split an infinitive.
Jul
16
comment Single word for kingliness and manliness
@vladkornea, I think it's not just an exception, but the exception
Jul
16
comment Single word for kingliness and manliness
@vladkornea, King Maria Theresa of Austria would disagree with that definition. From newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Maria_Theresa_of_Austria "Maria Theresa was actually proclaimed King, rather than Queen, of Hungary upon her ascension to the Hungarian throne."
Jul
16
comment Is “pretty ugly” an oxymoron?
I'm glad the question has been asked, and I'll refrain from answering as my position is already clear. I will add another question though: can anyone find a list (authoritative or even only semi-authoritative) of oxymorons that does not include "pretty ugly"? If not, then from a descriptivist point-of-view, it seems difficult to argue that "pretty ugly" is not an oxymoron if oxymorons are used in such a way to specifically include it. I would think a good answer would provide authoritative lists of oxymorons that do include "pretty ugly" and a great answer would have a link explaining why.
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@user568458 I agree that "pretty ugly" and "awfully good" are not as interesting as "deafening silence" et al., and would welcome a question debating whether they are legitimate oxymorons from a prescriptivist point-of-view, but I would argue that a descriptivist point-of-view would have to admit them as they are included on every list of oxymorons I can find.
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@user568458, "certainty" and "possibility", when used individually and as you mention, in a different context about degrees of confidence, hence the (apparent) contradiction. The examples you provide do not treat the words individually, but as a pair, i.e., in context. Consider also "awfully good". You mention that probability and possibility as different things, and that is true, but if I were to ask you whether an event were "certainly true" or only "possibly true", would you consider such a question to be poor grammar or illogical? Thus, they can apply to the same concept.
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@Kevin, "awfully" and "good" are in no way contradictory, but "awful" and "good" are. Similarly, "certain" and "possible" are somewhat contradictory, but "certainly possible" is not. Based off the answers here, it seems that almost everyone answering here would assert that neither "pretty ugly" nor "awfully good" are oxymorons, either. I feel like everyone is hung up on whether the phrase is a contradiction instead of whether it is an oxymoron.
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@cuddlyable3, how does that differ from "pretty ugly" where pretty is an adverb and ugly is an adjective?
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
At issue isn't whether "certainly possible" is a contradiction, but if it is an oxymoron, in the same manner as "pretty ugly". I've yet to see any answer either 1) claim that "pretty ugly" is not an oxymoron (which @oerkelens has in his comments to my answer), or 2) explain how "certainly possible" differs in construction from "pretty ugly" (or "awfully good"). It seems that everyone is hung up on whether the phrase is a contradiction instead of whether the phrase is an oxymoron.
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@Spork, why would "certainly possible" not be an oxymoron, when "pretty ugly" and "awfully good" are?
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@deadrat, just to be clear, oxymorons are not self-contradictory, only seemingly so. Neither "pretty ugly" nor "awfully good" is self-contradictory, yet they both are commonly cited as examples of oxymorons in textbooks.
Jul
14
revised Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
Added more links to lists of oxymorons to bolster my claim
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@oerkelens In fact, can you find a list of oxymorons that does not include "pretty ugly"?