Jump to content
Science Forums

Words with Unexpected Meanings


freeztar
 Share

Recommended Posts

What is interesting about language is that it is purely subjective and not objective. If we take any object there is no cause and effect for labeling it with any particular sound via language, since each language might use a different sound. The object is the same for all, but the word sound is subjective. Not being in touch with cause and effect could be the reason language has so much diversity, sounds, and meanings.

 

A ton used to mean 2000 lbs. But since language is subjective, we can associated anything with anything such that ton's of fun can weight nothing or weigh a little bit and feel light on the heart.

 

Once we create a very strict definition for something, language becomes linear, since we attempt to associate a one-to-one correspondence. The original linear word might be one's name, since it remains regardless of the culture one may travel. Although in marriage, the linear of the wife's last name might change. As we diversify the meaning of a linear word-sound like ton, we add a curve or twist to the linear meaning. The word-sound is no longer 1-D, but is more like 1+ -D or a line that starts to curve.

 

An alphabet is close to 1-D, since the corresponse is suppose to stay linear and not change. But at times, even letters are given a slight twist such as C sounding like Cat or Certain.

 

The subjectivity of language builds and can add to more than the sum of its parts. The alphabet are close to linear. Once we group these linear things together to make words, the curvature increases for endless diversity of sounds and meanings. Once we string these linear and curved words together we start to fomulate meaning which can approach 2-D cause and effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Based on that logic, here is an interesting word. In the beginning, there was the word, and the word was GOD.

 

If you look at primitive or ancient times, when language was first developing, the word God played a unique role. Since there was no real science and people were noticing all types of new things they could not explain, they would attribute it to god. If the volcano was smoking, it was god.

 

The net effect, was God (in any language) was a do-all word with endless meanings as far as the imagination could associate reality. On the one hand, we had the linear alphabet. At the other extreme, was this this do-all word with endless turns and twists, with new applications appearing with each new unexplainable observation. All the rest of the words were in the middle.

 

Since language is needed to help us think, this useful word of endless meaning, may have played a role in observation, since each observation, although not fully explainable in the modern sense, nevertheless had word to help motivate thinking further about it.

 

The is a fable about Rumpelstiltskin. There was a poor miller who lied and said his daughter could spin straw into gold. A small magical creature appears who helps out, but under his own terms. The fable goes if the miller could guess his name, he would have control over him. This is sort of about language creation and the power of words. Once one can label something with language there is a certain sense of power and control over the phenomena. If you travel to another land and saw a new critter it is strange to the imagination where we try to find similarities with what we know. If a local says there is a (such and such), we get gold back to 1-D. With the word God, this versatile word gave power over the environment, since this Rumpelstiltskin word was everywhere in nature and knowing his name, made the straw of uncertainty associations, gold. Later science appears and differentiates the same effects with new language, removing meanings from the original word, which was god. The word God then narrows; fewer twist and turns, to its various personifications.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is an old saying; Sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me.

 

In terms of objectivity, both sticks and stones can impart enough momentum to inflict bodily harm. This is true in all cultures. But words are sounds, which we must agreed upon for them to impart a given meaning. Since the same thing can be imparted is often associated with different sounds in different languages, the sound association is purely subjective.

 

For example, let's say when we make the sound "urgeti", the ladies will blush and the boys will yell out a loud ugg. We can associated anything we want to that sound, since the association is subjective, but say we agree upon that. But we can also use regetteluo if we all agree. After a certain amount of subjective conditioning, the connection between the sound urgeti and blushing will seem define a cause and effect, since we might see the conditioned reaction acting on the sound cue, without thinking. But since the conditioned association to that sound was purely subjective, that causal illusion is subjective, unless we subjectively agree to give that conditioned reaction a sound like the word objective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Bimonthly

bi·month·ly/bīˈmənTHlē/

Adjective:

Occurring or produced twice a month or every two months.

Adverb:

Twice a month or every two months.

Noun:

A periodical produced twice a month or every two months.

 

What a confusing word! I always thought of it as every other month. Don't think I'll be using this word anymore.

Edited by PoC
Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to the American Heritage Dictionary the meaning of every second month is the standard usage, but it acknowledges the other meaning. The preferred usage for twice a month would be semi-monthly. Of course a possible alternative for Brits would be fortnightly for that one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest MacPhee

According to the American Heritage Dictionary the meaning of every second month is the standard usage, but it acknowledges the other meaning. The preferred usage for twice a month would be semi-monthly. Of course a possible alternative for Brits would be fortnightly for that one.

 

I've never seen "semi-monthly" used. Doesn't it suggest something that's supposed to happen once a month, but might not?

 

Eg - a magazine would surely never be described as published "semi-monthly". It'd sound like something which was supposed to come out monthly, but sometimes didn't. This would make it unattractive to prospective subscribers.

 

Subscribers naturally want to get value for their money. They need to be confident of getting a regular supply of the magazine they're paying for.

 

They will get this confidence from the plain, solid, Anglo-Saxon "Fortnightly". They will be rightly suspicious of the vague, weasely, half-Latin "semi-monthly".

 

Isn't the use of weasely, abstruse, almost meaningless expressions, a feature of modern American speech, and perhaps partly responsible for, or symptomatic of, the decline of the USA?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never seen "semi-monthly" used. Doesn't it suggest something that's supposed to happen once a month, but might not?

 

Eg - a magazine would surely never be described as published "semi-monthly". It'd sound like something which was supposed to come out monthly, but sometimes didn't. This would make it unattractive to prospective subscribers.

 

Subscribers naturally want to get value for their money. They need to be confident of getting a regular supply of the magazine they're paying for.

 

They will get this confidence from the plain, solid, Anglo-Saxon "Fortnightly". They will be rightly suspicious of the vague, weasely, half-Latin "semi-monthly".

 

Isn't the use of weasely, abstruse, almost meaningless expressions, a feature of modern American speech, and perhaps partly responsible for, or symptomatic of, the decline of the USA?

 

honestly; do you(all) not know how to use a dictionary? could it be that's the reason you have declined in the ability to adapt to common usage? by-the-by, there are 2 l's in weaselly. mispelers of the world untie!

 

semi-

semi-

pref.

1. Half: semicircle.

2. Partial; partially: semiconscious.

3. Resembling or having some of the characteristics of: semiofficial.

4. Occurring twice during: semimonthly. See Usage Note at bi-1.

 

bi- (boldfacing mine.)

Usage Note: Bimonthly and biweekly mean "once every two months" and "once every two weeks." For "twice a month" and "twice a week," the words semimonthly and semiweekly should be used. Since there is a great deal of confusion over the distinction, a writer is well advised to substitute expressions like every two months or twice a month where possible. However, each noun form has only one sense in the publishing world. Thus, a bimonthly is published every two months, and a biweekly every two weeks.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

ok i have pndered this for many years

 

curse words

 

**** - similar sounding to asian languages

**** - similar sounding to persian languages

 

now, are they curse words to literally curse another language

 

that is to say, when you hear these words, you instantly consider them a curse word

 

so as a symbolic condition, we are trained to "curse" other languages, even if only subconciously

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest MacPhee

@ Turtle's #24:

 

Thanks, valuable and pertinent comments. As you say, the dictionary definitions of "semi" include: "Partially", and "Resembling". But these meanings lack positive connotations - they imply failure and pretence. Which is the point I was trying to make with the magazine example:

 

If a magazine described itself as "semi-monthly", it'd sound like one that pretended to be a monthly, but usually failed.

 

On another point, you quibble with my use of "weasely". I know this isn't the dictionary spelling. But "weaselly" looks hideous! Doesn't it make your eye shy away from such an abomination?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest MacPhee

ok i have pndered this for many years

 

curse words

 

**** - similar sounding to asian languages

**** - similar sounding to persian languages

 

now, are they curse words to literally curse another language

 

that is to say, when you hear these words, you instantly consider them a curse word

 

so as a symbolic condition, we are trained to "curse" other languages, even if only subconciously

 

That's an interesting idea, belovelife. I remember, when young, getting an unfavourable impression of Germans, due to the German definite article "die". Of course, it's really only one form of their word for "the". Instead of the unvarying English "the", the German language has "der, die, or das". . Depending on noun gender.

 

But I didn't know that at the time, and because "die" is the same as the English "Die", my young brain associated Germans with death and killing. Perhaps that was understandable. I grew up when the memory of WW2 was still fresh.

 

On the other hand, I remember reading newspaper accounts of German tourists visiting England, and standing in bemusement outside an English "Gift Shop". In the German language, the word "Gift" means Poison, so the Germans were wondering why the Englisch had a Poison Shop in the High Street.

 

Such linguistic misapprehensions, might as you suggest, influence the way we view speakers of other languages.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@ Turtle's #24:

 

Thanks, valuable and pertinent comments. As you say, the dictionary definitions of "semi" include: "Partially", and "Resembling". But these meanings lack positive connotations - they imply failure and pretence. Which is the point I was trying to make with the magazine example:

 

If a magazine described itself as "semi-monthly", it'd sound like one that pretended to be a monthly, but usually failed.

 

On another point, you quibble with my use of "weasely". I know this isn't the dictionary spelling. But "weaselly" looks hideous! Doesn't it make your eye shy away from such an abomination?

 

well, the dictionary made the distinction for the publishing industry clear. moreover, if a consumer had a doubt it would be settled in short order as to the meaning of a bi-monthly or semi-monthly. once the issue was clarified, the consumer would have learned the meaning in the context of publishing and know what to expect thereafter in any periodical.

 

if anything shyed my eye, it was your weaselly misspelling. if you spent as much time learning language nuances as complaining about them, you would have less to complain about. as this is not the only thread you have voiced such concerns, i don't get why it's such a problem for you. why is it such a problem for you macphee?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest MacPhee

Thanks Turtle. I still think "weaselly" looks ugly, and my emendation "weasely" is nicer. However, the dictionary is on your side. Taste defers to authority, as so often.

 

Please, though, I beg, don't refer to a "consumer" of a magazine. One doesn't consume magazines - one reads the bally things. Surely you don't think newspaper readers "consume" news, though I've seen that expression used. Awful!

 

As regards the question at the end of your post, unfortunately I can't answer it, because I don't quite understand it.

 

Best wishes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Monosyllabic English

Thanks Turtle. I still think "weaselly" looks ugly, and my emendation "weasely" is nicer. However, the dictionary is on your side. Taste defers to authority, as so often.

 

Please, though, I beg, don't refer to a "consumer" of a magazine. One doesn't consume magazines - one reads the bally things. Surely you don't think newspaper readers "consume" news, though I've seen that expression used. Awful!

 

As regards the question at the end of your post, unfortunately I can't answer it, because I don't quite understand it.

 

Best wishes

 

my pleasure.

 

well, to the dictionary again:

 

consumer

1. One that consumes, especially one that acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing

 

so indeed, one does acquire magazines, magazines are goods -if not services as well-, so 'consumers of magazines' is fit & fine.

 

my previous ending question is in view of some of your earlier threads/posts wherin you decry language as it is in favor of some artificial contrivance(s). for example your thread on Monosyllabic English. language is as language does, which is to say words, spellings, phrases, etc. come about by necessity or invention to serve some purpose. this is the case whether the purpose is technical or mere fancy. dictionaries are authoritive not because they create words, but because they record the current and past usage of words as witnessed by peoples' using them. it's well & fine not to like a word or one of its meanings and so simply not use it, but it is more well & fine to understand how a word is and has been used before passing judement on its correctitudenality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

affect and effect ...

 

... a pair of words in the English language that most (as best I can recall at the moment ;)) annoy, and have for decades annoyed, me:

 

We say “A affected B”, but “A had an effect on B”. We can say “A effected an effect in B”, but not “A effected B”, unless by “B” we mean “an effect on C”

 

When we exchange the two words, their meaning change dramatically “A affected an effect” means essentially “A faked or simulated an effect”. “A had an affect on B” means, ackwardly, “A caused B to fain a liking for C”, or perhaps “A caused B to actual like C”.

 

How I wish our language would somehow fold these two words into synonyms, so they’d cease to bedevil me so!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

afflict and inflict ...

 

Afflict and Inflict are somewhat less troublesome although many people use them interchangeably, in my experience.

 

Main Entry: inflict  [in-flikt] Show IPA Part of Speech: verb Definition: impose something Synonyms: administer, apply, bring upon, command, deal out, deliver, dispense, exact, expose, extort, force, force upon, give, give it to, lay down the law, levy, mete out, require, stick it to, strike, subject, visit, wreak Notes: afflict is generally used with living beings; inflict is generally used with inanimate objects

inflict takes 'on,' afflict takes 'with'

 

http://thesaurus.com/browse/inflict

Link to comment
Share on other sites

founder & flounder ...

 

Usage Note: The verbs founder and flounder are often confused. Founder comes from a Latin word meaning "bottom" (as in foundation) and originally referred to knocking enemies down; it is now also used to mean "to fail utterly, collapse." Flounder means "to move clumsily, thrash about," and hence "to proceed in confusion." If John is foundering in Chemistry 1, he had better drop the course; if he is floundering, he may yet pull through.
the Free Dictionary
Link to comment
Share on other sites

founder & flounder ...

 

the Free Dictionary

 

There is also the medical definition of 'founder' which I know of through working with horses.

 

 

 

Definition of FOUNDER

intransitive verb: to become disabled; especially : to go lame transitive verb: to disable (an animal) especially by inducing laminitis through excessive feeding

http://www.merriam-w...medical/founder

 

 

Flounder is also a group of flatfish which have some interesting attributes:

 

In its life cycle, an adult flounder has two eyes situated on one side of its head, where at hatching one eye is located on each side of its brain. One eye migrates to the other side of the body as a process of metamorphosis as it grows from larval to juvenile stage. As an adult, a flounder changes its habits and camouflages itself by lying on the bottom of the ocean floor as protection against predators.[1] As a result, the eyes are then on the side which faces up. The side to which the eyes migrate is dependent on the species type.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flounder

 

Undecided as to whether I am foundering or floundering.....I think it's time to hit horizontal hold.....:night_moon:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...