Category Archives: Semantics

Word Purge


There is an online post at the British newspaper Guardian reporting on words to be excluded from new editions of dictionaries. The post invites readers to list their own choices for words they’d like removed from the English language. My … Continue reading

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Linguistic Asymmetries


Have you ever noticed that, while some words which take a prefix seem to form nice pairings with opposite meaning polarity (tie/untie, compliance/noncompliance, tasteful/distasteful), other pairs don’t work this way? For example, there is nonplussed, but not plussed, insipid, but … Continue reading

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Reading the Signs


If you examine the wording on cautionary road signs, you’ll realize they aren’t wholly consistent.  Yet as native speakers of English (or with working fluency of English) we usually have no trouble interpreting the intended meaning.  The basic semantic task … Continue reading

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Go and Went


If you hear someone say ‘I goed’ and you are a fluent speaker of English, you probably assume it’s a child in the midst of learning their native tongue, albeit with a few over-generalizations of word-formation rules, or an adult … Continue reading

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Recombinant Semantics


Playing with words and sentences is good exercise for the mind. Besides, it’s fun. Recently BBear (a Jumbles enthusiast) explained his version of a semantic game: take a passage (any passage you choose) and, using only the inventory of the … Continue reading

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