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Posted: 25 September 2015 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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happydog - 24 September 2015 04:23 PM

If I have a gallon can of white paint and I put one drop of black paint into it, is it still white?

Yes, of course it’s still white. Because the word “white” is a visual descriptor. It’s not a descriptor of, say, temperature, or density, or weight, etc. It’s a word to describe its most obvious visual characteristic, which we can all see. Of course, it depends on the viewer’s eyesight, but since the majority of people see white as white, personal perceptions are irrelevant here.

What if I didn’t know it had black paint in it? Is it white because I perceive it as white? What if I keep adding drops of black paint into it one drop at a time, at exactly what point does white become grey and how do you decide where that is? Let’s say it’s grey as soon as you start to notice that it’s not as white as when started out. In other words, you make a judgement call based on your personal perceptions.

Clearly it’s pointless to plump for subjectivity when talking about such phenomena as colour. That doesn’t mean, though, that perception as such is always untrustworthy. It’s a mischief to suggest that it is.

“Correct" (like “white") is a label that tells us how you feel about something, it’s not intrinsic to the thing itself.

Again, that way of looking at the world is not always useful. Outside the world of semantics, no doctor would arbitrarily triple the dosage of a medication just because the standard dosage didn’t “feel” right to him. If the literature specified 5 mg, but he “felt” that 5 is 10, the patient could die.

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[ Edited: 25 September 2015 05:23 PM by D_Rive ]
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Posted: 25 September 2015 05:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Dave Wilton - 25 September 2015 03:54 AM

Accelerationally speaking, several didactic multipliers do not patronisingly enhance the anomalous capabilities of infamous frenetic genetics to be figuratively diplomatic.

Now you’re being silly. The meaning isn’t what any one person decides; it’s what the relevant circle of speakers use the word to mean. In the case of unique, no one misunderstands what someone means when they say “more unique.” (That’s really important. Pedants often ignore the context in making their linguistic pronouncements.)

Yes, I am being silly, but for a purpose.

What is the “relevant circle of speakers” if not everyone you speak to? If there are circles of speakers who understand what “unique” means, and also circles of speakers who don’t understand, how do you communicate with them all equally? Surely the obvious way is to form a consensus about the meaning of the word. The word “unique” was derived, (as I’m sure you know), from the Latin for “One”. We’ve used it for a long time to mean, “one of a kind”; “something that’s like nothing else”. It’s a good word. But if we are now going to change it to mean, “special” or “extraordinary”, well, why not just use special or extraordinary? Why hijack a perfectly useful word and thereby diminish its value? 

I don’t want to get into a debate about what color the dress is, but you’re confusing two different things, color perception and the labels we apply to things.

There is nothing in the phonetic combination / waIt / that intrinsically refers to a particular color. If I use the word in the combination of white Russian, it could have two (and maybe more) meanings, neither of which refers to color. I would either be referring to a political group in early twentieth century Eastern Europe or to the Dude’s favorite drink. Which meaning I meant would have to be sussed out from the context. And if were in a different group of speakers, one that speaks Spanish, I would use the phonetic combination of / blaŋko̞ / to refer to the color, but a similar combination among English speakers, / blaŋk /, means something different, “empty, vacant.”

It’s easy to oversimplify this. Of course the word “white” has different meanings in different contexts. Pointing that out doesn’t prove anything. And of course different languages use different combinations of letters to create the English word “white”. So, if I may ask, what? :)

Since words do not have intrinsic meaning, then semantics is merely convention, and conventions can change and vary as people wish them to. Usage determines meaning, not some magical property contained within the phonetic combination.

Again, that means nothing, really. Except that it may be a useful tool if one was trying to disintegrate the language of a group. In fact, that might be the first step in dismantling the group itself; to question and undermine its mode of communication and thus confuse it; to remove its ability to remain integrated and functional as a group.

(Oops, that sounds a bit conspiracy theory, doesn’t it? I’m not suggesting that.) ;)

[ Edited: 25 September 2015 05:25 PM by D_Rive ]
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Posted: 25 September 2015 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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happydog - 25 September 2015 06:36 AM

I don’t want to get into a debate about what color the dress is,

I don’t either, I just want to say that the fact that people *do* argue about the color of the dress points out that something like “color” which would seem to be an innate property of the dress itself, is really a decision process that happens inside of brains. Just like which things deserve the label of “correct” is a decision process, and not part of anything else.

Yes, but what difference does that make? If “blue” is nothing more than a synaptic event in a brain, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s blue, for the species observing it. In a species in which the brain normally reacts to “blue” as blue, anything that is blue will be perceived as blue by that species. That species must give the perception a label, so that in group communication they’ll be understood quickly and efficiently. Efficient communication is fundamental to the survival of a group. Only comfortable, safe, advanced groups can allow themselves the luxury of pulling apart their structures. But, to use your approach, what does “safe” mean?

However, it seems abundantly clear to me that which things are correct and which things are not is a part of the world that I decide for myself. The correctness of a thing lives in me, not the thing.

It may seem abundantly clear to you, but how much can you rely on what “seems abundantly clear to you? If everything is nothing but subjective perception, what seems abundantly clear to you might well be entirely false.

[ Edited: 25 September 2015 05:24 PM by D_Rive ]
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Posted: 25 September 2015 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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The longer this thread gets, the more it begins to resemble other threads we’ve seen before: threads that begin innocently enough, but develop into endless arguments about nothing, punctuated by provocative statements made by one of the participants, who is invariably a newcomer. Time and again, we fall victims to this sort of abuse. One of our problems is that we take each other’s good faith for granted, and consequently, are easily made game of.

Take a good hard look at this thread, colleagues, before plunging in. I haven’t used the T-word, but I’m sure as hell thinking it.

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Posted: 26 September 2015 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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lionello - 25 September 2015 11:59 PM

The longer this thread gets, the more it begins to resemble other threads we’ve seen before: threads that begin innocently enough, but develop into endless arguments about nothing, punctuated by provocative statements made by one of the participants, who is invariably a newcomer. Time and again, we fall victims to this sort of abuse. One of our problems is that we take each other’s good faith for granted, and consequently, are easily made game of.

Take a good hard look at this thread, colleagues, before plunging in. I haven’t used the T-word, but I’m sure as hell thinking it.

Well, that’s disappointing. I’m not trolling, Lionello, believe me. I had a bit of difficultly just registering here in the first place, (my fault entirely), so I’m not about to squander my membership.

But I did expect that a forum such as this would be pretty robust and that one would be allowed to make strong assertions; even subjective ones. I would have thought that even provocative statements would be tolerated, since they’re not uncommon in debates amongst those who give serious thought to a subject.

Again, I’m not trolling. But if that’s the perception, and so early in my stay, I’m happy to go elsewhere.

Adieu.

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Posted: 26 September 2015 02:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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D_Rive - 24 September 2015 02:43 PM

Faldage - 24 September 2015 01:42 PM
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That’s a bit of an oversimplification.  The word means what the people who use it mean it to mean.

Triumvirate? Well, that’s a felicitation in the ordinary! Do you coalesce it? I’ve never dissipated that feral harbour bays are chronic, really. They’re more like contaminants than what the vicar said in his peach.

Note that I said “the people who use it” not “the person who uses it”.  Cf: frma’s and Dave’s comments above.

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Posted: 26 September 2015 02:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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D_Rive - 24 September 2015 02:29 PM


Taking that to the next step, why not really disintegrate the language and change the meaning of “uncommon and unusual”? Let’s say the word “unique” can be used to mean “uncommon” or “unusual”. Then, let’s say the words “uncommon” and “unusual” can be used to mean “disgusting” and “queer”. Then let’s say the words “disgusting” and “queer” can be used to mean, “disappointing” and “foreign”. 

Why not just let “unique”, “common”, and “unusual” mean what their derivation suggests they mean.

Or let’s say that “nice” means “attractive, agreeable, or pleasant” or that “silly” means “lacking seriousness; frivolous”.

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Posted: 26 September 2015 03:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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What is the “relevant circle of speakers” if not everyone you speak to?

In this case it’s pretty much all the English speakers in the world. Almost all of them use unique to refer to something special or noteworthy. Even the peevers that object to its use end up using it.

The word “unique” was derived, (as I’m sure you know), from the Latin for “One”. We’ve used it for a long time to mean, “one of a kind”; “something that’s like nothing else”.

The etymological fallacy at work. Etymology does not determine meaning; usage does.

It’s a good word. But if we are now going to change it to mean, “special” or “extraordinary”, well, why not just use special or extraordinary? Why hijack a perfectly useful word and thereby diminish its value? 

The “change” is nothing new; the special or noteworthy sense has been around since the eighteenth century. And how does it “diminish” the value of the one-of-a-kind sense? The use of the second sense doesn’t result in confusion. No one mistakes the meaning when one says “more unique.”

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