Sound file compatibility and Linux

Richmond Mathewson richmondmathewson at
Mon Apr 27 15:34:36 EDT 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho:

"Is the turkey ready to eat yet?"

is only ambiguous insofar as whether it is the turkey that is doing the 
or somebody else who is eating the turkey. Once that ambiguity has been
settled (and this should only be ambiguous in settings such as this 
list, as elsewhere it would be heavily contextualised either linguistically
or environmentally), the question is a question. It will be seen as 
when I reply: "But we're eating rabbit tonight."

Consider: "Richmond is bald."

It is innaccurate as I have a full head of hair (well, as a 47 year old,
I have a slightly receding hairline).

However: "Is Richmond bald?"  is a question. A question is only
accurate insofar as whether it elicits the type of answer that is

For instance: "Is Richmond an admirer of the rock group 'The Bonzo Dog 
Doo-Dah Band' ?"
is innaccurate if the answer expected refers to how hairy Richmond's 
head is.
Obviously with this criterion of accuracy, accuracy cannot be determined 
an answer is elicited. Factors that will affect this are things such as 
the level of
bloody-mindedness of the person being questioned. :)

"inflammable" is a hoary chestnut insofar as it is an apparent negation
of "flammable" that is, mostly, used to mean the same thing: leading to
the clumsy "uninflammable". As most people are unaware of its
etymology "inflammable" is understood as meaning that something is
easy to ignite and will then burn with vigour.

Words that sound the same but have different meaning attached to them
inside one speech community tend to be labelled as homonyms unless there
is a percieved common origin, when they are labelled as a polysemous word.
Both of these terms ('homonymous' and 'polysemous') are really fairly ad hoc
as meanings are never inherent in words, but in how they are used; and use
is heavily dependent on context.

Mark: if you want a copy of my M.A. Thesis in Polysemy and Homonymy
from a Cognitive Linguistic point of view (although I did get fairly
functionalist at one point) send me a message off-list and I will bung you
a copy.

""Television" is another of those abominations... "

That is a value judgement that comes from a prescriptive viewpoint.
Language itself listens to very few people who would try and lick it
in to behaving itself; witness the efforts of the Academie Francais
trying to wipe out 'les longues drinks'.

sincerely, Richmond Mathewson.

Mark Wieder wrote:
> Richmond-
> Monday, April 27, 2009, 11:28:16 AM, you wrote:
>> I didn't know that one could be accurate and ambiguous at the same time :)
> Indeed one can. There's nothing innately innaccurate about the
> question
> "Is the turkey ready to eat yet?"
> and yet it's inherently ambiguous.
> The words "inflammable", "cleave", and "sanction" are not only
> accurate and ambiguous, but are... er... disonyms or something. I
> realize the accepted word is "contranym", but I was always taught that
> you shouldn't combine Latin and Greek roots. "Television" is another
> of those abominations...

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