Questions tagged [semantics]

Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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technologically dominant vs dominated by technology

How would you best explain that saying that "we live in a world that is technologically dominant" doesn't make sense in a context where you are saying that social media is not about to ...
Cobalt Scales's user avatar
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1 answer
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What does the word "leggit" mean?

I've just finished Call of Duty Black Ops II, and there was one word whose meaning I couldn't find even on the Internet. This is leggit, and it's a verb. I have a link to a YouTube video with this ...
user500689's user avatar
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Do auxiliary verbs have a meaning / an intrinsic meaning?

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_auxiliary_verbs): English auxiliary verbs are a small set of English verbs, which include the English modal auxiliary verbs and a few others. Although ...
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2 answers
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It can't possibly be true, but somehow maybe

How is this sentence to be construed: 'It can't possibly be true, but somehow maybe.' ? Can you rephrase it? Source: https://youtu.be/X19aZ-MgibA?t=663 Would I Lie to You S17 E8. Non-UK viewers. 16 ...
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1 answer
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What's the meaning of "sing'lar"?

And a mighty sing'lar and pretty place it is, as ever I saw in all the days of my life!" said Captain Jorgan, looking up at it. The term is mentioned in the first line of Charles Dickens's A ...
POP POP's user avatar
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If a baddie is using, are they abusing?

The following sentence got me thinking 1: While hawala is used for the legitimate transfer of funds, its anonymity and minimal documentation have also made it vulnerable to abuse by individuals and ...
HingeSight's user avatar
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Syntax and semantics of implications with different arrangement of propositions

I have two statements If swimming is allowed in the shore, then sharks have not been spotted. If sharks have not been spotted, then swimming is allowed. I am a maths student, so based on that these ...
tbhaxor's user avatar
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What about this sentence does not make sense?

From the16types.info forum, signature of user exsomnis: Either serve me now with comfortable deeds or disappear. What exactly is incorrect with the adjective "comfortable" modifying the ...
Fomalhaut's user avatar
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Does "overwhelming" equate to "majority"? [closed]

I had a disagreement with somebody, and I am struggling to see how I could be wrong. Essentially, I referred to a representation of a certain group of people on a website as overwhelming; my exact ...
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Compare & Contrast to get deeper understanding of similarities and differences between Punchy vs Pithy

Reference : https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pithy Pithy adjective 1 : consisting of or abounding in pith 2 : having substance and point : tersely cogent Reference : https://www.merriam-...
crazyTech's user avatar
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I was thinking of her(,) swimming in the lake

Do we place a comma before 'swimming' in 'I was thinking of her swimming in the lake.'? How can it be rephrased? I was thinking of her while I was swimming in the lake. She swimming in the lake was ...
Didyougo's user avatar
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John goes to the cinema with Kate and (with) Ann

What's the difference between general public's interpretations of these: John goes to the cinema with Kate and Ann. John goes to the cinema with Kate and with Ann.
Quirkier's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is there a term for antonyms that are a small edit distance from each other?

I'm looking for examples of dramatic typos - where a minor edit can dramatically change the meaning of a phrase, and would like to know if there's a name for this phenomenon. Paronyms are a similar ...
Rhys Mills's user avatar
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2 answers
219 views

"Keep it unchanged" vs. "Keep it constant" vs. "Keep it unchanging"

Using Google search, I found that the phrase "keep it unchanged" is very common while "keep it unchanging" is very uncommon and "keep it constant" is not so common. ...
Tran Khanh's user avatar
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1 answer
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Does a suffix need to be an affix?

I understand that according to Collins Dictionary, a suffix is an affix that follows the stem to which it is attached, as for example -s and -ness in dogs and softness. It has, however, a second ...
Nicolas Othmar's user avatar
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1 answer
306 views

Is it Reunion after 50 years or 50 year Reunion?

We have recently conducted a reunion party after 50 years. The party was conducted by the old students of a Highschool. We thought of some titles for it: 50 year Reunion 50th Reunion Reunion after 50 ...
Jvlnarasimharao's user avatar
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1 answer
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'Some rats lived at/in the school. To get rid of them, the headmaster called in a rat control service.' [duplicate]

Can one use "at the school" instead of "in the school" in, Some rats lived at the school. To get rid of them, the headmaster called in a rat control service.
tes389's user avatar
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Why is the meaning of good in most dictionaries described as both acceptable/satisfactory in one sense and excellent/high quality in another sense?

When we type good in most online dictionaries including Oxford, Collins, Webster etc, various meanings come out. However, when it comes to standard, quality or performance both senses are given: ...
Pranay Bansod's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
307 views

"them" vs. "those"

In some places, I have found them to be used in a place where it seems to mean as much as those. One example is the song Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty. The chorus has the lines Into the great ...
Jonathan Scholbach's user avatar
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3 answers
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Meaning of the zero article for a plural noun phrase in English?

Please consider this example of sentence : “ Schools allocate places to the pupils who score highest. “ Here are two first questions : Could you confirm that “schools” here means “all schools” ? ...
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Is the usage of the word 'entitled' appropriate in the following extract from a city council meeting?

Is the usage of the word 'entitled' appropriate in the following extract from a city council meeting? An ordinance of the City Commission ... , relating to updating … Chapter 18 ... by: Amending ...
Michael Owen Sartin's user avatar
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Is “The door can't open” always an incorrect expression?

I am not a native speaker of English. I would like to know whether "The door can't open." is always an incorrect expression. More specifically, the Wikipedia article on Force dynamics has ...
L-traveler's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is it called when "I don't like X" is used to mean "I positively *dislike* X", or "We do not recommend Xing" is used for "We *discourage* Xing"?

I’m wondering if there’s a term that linguists or rhetoricians use for this (semantic?) phenomenon. In both cases, it seems as though ‘not’ no longer expresses the mere absence or negation of what it ...
rrutouowrpeie's user avatar
5 votes
4 answers
492 views

"Discretion is the better part of valour" doesn't seem to make sense as a sentence

By discretion, the idiom is referring to choosing to be careful. By valour, the idiom is referring to being courageous. So how is discretion a "part" of valour? Valour and discretion are two ...
Adam's user avatar
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1 answer
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"implies the narrator"?

A sentence on this website reads: It might well be, implies the narrator, that he made up the whole story, but he's content to leave it up to the reader to decide which "passages" of his ...
apprenant's user avatar
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A binge is on its own

I am quite sure that the sentence There was a binge yesterday is grammatically correct. But what about semantics? I mean, there was an event like a drinking party yesterday. Do I use the binge word ...
Tarletsky Andrey's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
135 views

Are English negative polarity questions biased?

A friend and I had a question about a sentence that we encountered: Didn't you want to pay for something that was too much? My friend argues that sentence is fairly neutral clarifying in a neutral ...
abbe's user avatar
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What does "mole-faced" mean? This compound adjective often appears in crime noir stories and books

The internet is no help. It just shows me images of people with facial moles - and I'm pretty sure that's not what Sam Spade/Dashiell Hammett had in mind. Though here's a more recent example from ...
Stephen Waterhouse's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
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Complementation according to Quirk et al.: syntactic concept vs. semantic concept

According to the definition of "complementation" in "The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar", for most linguists complementation is a syntactic concept. However, the definition ...
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26 votes
3 answers
269 views

"Guys" losing its gendered meaning in American English

Disclaimer - I have very little knowledge of semantics, and I am mostly just a phonetics enthusiast. Thus, my question and the way I explain it may be unprofessional or may lack linguistic rigor. I'm ...
Graham H.'s user avatar
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How confident is confident? [closed]

I'd always thought that "sure" and "certain" were close to synonymous, both meaning absence of doubt (with "certain" in a slightly higher register, and maybe a bit ...
Jay's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
462 views

When an entity 'fails' to do an action, does it imply that they 'ought' to do that action?

For example: High-functioning psychopaths often fail to recognize the thoughts and feelings of the people they hurt. In this example, there is no intention to do the action (verb) by the person ...
Ashton Dowling's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is "being away from home a good deal" strictly habitual?

On his internment during WWII, P. G. Wodehouse commented: The chief drawback is that it means your being away from home a good deal. Striking. Because, I think, he's slightly stretching the use of ...
AskingJeeves's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
293 views

Is the question "Can I borrow (person) for a while?" correct usage of English?

Supposing the person is in a classroom, and a teacher is present. If someone from outside the classroom asks the teacher "Can I borrow this person?", would it be correct usage of English? ...
CrashtestEnigma's user avatar
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0 answers
110 views

Can "must have + past participle" ever express obligation (deontic modality)?

Can a sentence using a must have + past participle construction ever express deontic modality? These are all epistemic: He must have showered. Someone must have eaten the apple. The laundry must have ...
minseong's user avatar
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Can nouns take more than one argument?

In semantic analysis, are n-predicate nouns, n>1, a formally accepted thing? When could a noun be n-predicate? I think of Friend as a 2-predicate noun: friend'(x, y) means that x thinks of y as a ...
minseong's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
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What is the name of the ambiguity in "he loves a woman"?

What Are Scope Ambiguities? has the example Every man loves a woman. And says that it is scopally ambiguous because these two possible readings exist: "for every man, there is a woman, and it'...
minseong's user avatar
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How might we understand the phrase "on goal"?

The sentence is, He [the goalie] is pretty much incapable of thwarting even the most fainthearted attempts on goal. Source - Own Goal The meaning seems clear: the goalie is failing to prevent goals....
Pound Hash's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
47 views

Can "somewhere" sometimes be a substitute for "sometime"? [closed]

Here is an example of an author appearing to do just that. "It seems, no matter my intentions, my other 4 babies were 'off the boob' (yes, I'm sometimes known for my less-than PC vernacular) ...
Stephen Waterhouse's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
194 views

Is "can be able to" idiomatic among native speakers at all? If not, what's its origin?

I've heard the expression can be able to consistently from a couple of folks from India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Here are a couple of paraphrased examples: By signing up to our service,...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
84 views

What is the difference between phrases "is used when" and "is used for when"?

I was recently reading some articles about type conditionals, and one of them had a following line: The zero conditional is used for when the time being referred to is now or always and the situation ...
whatserface's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
427 views

intention vs objective

I'm trying to write a logical/philosophical essay about the topics of interests and actions, and more precisely, of logical fallacies that arise from equating interests and actions.[1] After 30 years, ...
luis.espinal's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
174 views

If left / right is laterality what is front / rear?

I want to write something like this: Something can be differentiated by laterality [i.e. left - right dimension], by ___ [front - rear dimension], and also by the interaction between laterality and ...
Andy Junghyun Kim's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
54 views

Is saying "X allows anything to happen without any restriction" the same as saying "According to X anything can happen without any restriction"

I am not a native english speaker so I don't know if the below given statements have the exact same meaning. To my current understanding they do mean the same thing but I'm not sure about it. ...
user12002570's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
79 views

Semantic role of subject of 'refuse' [closed]

What's the semantic role of the subject of the following sentence? He refused to dine with me. Originally, I thought it might be that of 'agent', but how can someone 'do' a refusal? Some ...
Eric's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
183 views

The difference in meaning between to infinitive and gerund in catenative structures

I saw some examples in a paper on gerund and infinitive as follows. ... deciding whether to use a gerund or an infinitive after a verb can be perplexing among students for whom English is a second ...
Englishy's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
90 views

How to use possessive for joined and separate ownerships? [duplicate]

How should I create possessives (for joined and separate ownerships) if each individual isn't a noun but a pronoun? Knowing that: Peter and Dave's car means Peter and Dave own one car. And that Peter'...
Eren8hisfather's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
320 views

What do we call minimal pairs (words differ by only a single sound) that have similar meanings?

What is the term for minimal pairs that have minimal differences in sound as well as meaning? Per Wikipedia: In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, spoken ...
Kellviete's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
366 views

"Visual imperfection" and "cosmetic flaw" in description of an item for sale

Some online retailers sell "second quality" items at a discounted price. These items usually have some sort of defect that makes them unsuitable for sale at the normal price, but typically ...
zunojeef's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
68 views

Is Einstein's geodesic a metaphor or an idiom? [closed]

Is Einstein's geodesic a metaphor or an idiom? I am applying semantic theory to physical theory to bridge the two realities and have found the discussion on metaphor and odium illuminates this purpose....
Mark Hooper's user avatar

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