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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"?
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@oerkelens "Pretty ugly" is pretty much included in every list of oxymorons you can find: google.com/… oxymoronlist.com/oxymora-p grammar.about.com/od/rhetoricstyle/a/… jimwegryn.com/Words/Oxymora.htm
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
How does "certainly" acting as a modifier differ from the classic oxymorons of "pretty ugly" or "awfully good"?
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
A key word in that definition is seemingly. Pretty ugly is a classic oxymoron, but it is not an actual contradiction either, is it?
Jul
14
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@oerkelens oxymorons are not actual contradictions but only seeming contradictions, where by seeming, I mean that one can read the phrases out of context in a contradictory manner. As you say, "pretty ugly" is not a contradiction at all, but it is a very classic example of an oxymoron. There might be an exception, but all of the oxymorons that come immediately to my mind fall into this same category: they are only contradictions if one misunderstands them.
Jul
14
answered Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
Jul
14
comment An English equivalent of Arabic idiom ‘Show us the breadth of your shoulders’
There's also the Southern variant of: "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya"
Jul
11
comment Word for “animals, including humans”?
English is my native language, and pretty much everyone I interact with on a regular basis (granted, I live in a University town) uses the word 'animal' in such a way that it would include 'human'. Frankly, I am surprised by the number of people here who are taking it for granted that 'animal' does not typically include humans even when used in casual context. That said, the OP does explicitly state this as an assumption, so a good answer should at least acknowledge that assumption. I personally could see using "animal" as the label, and "non-human animal" vs. "human" as options.
Jul
5
answered Word for Thing Being Described?
Jun
20
revised Word for winning because the competitors were miraculously all worse
2 /= 3
Jun
19
answered Word for winning because the competitors were miraculously all worse