LINGUIST List 6.381

Sat 18 Mar 1995

Disc: Words that are their own opposites

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  1. Mary Neff, Re: Words that are their own opposites
  2. Anton Sherwood, self-opposites
  3. , words that are their own opposites
  4. "Jim Swanson", Re: 6.108 Sum: Words that are their own opposites (part 2)
  5. , RE: 6.293 Words that are their own opposites

Message 1: Re: Words that are their own opposites

Date: Mon, 06 Mar 1995 09:47:46 Re: Words that are their own opposites
From: Mary Neff <neffwatson.ibm.com>
Subject: Re: Words that are their own opposites

Content-Length: 129

How about this pair that are synonyms in one sense and
antonyms in another --

 outgoing : retiring

Mary S. Neff
IBM Research
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Message 2: self-opposites

Date: Sun, 5 Mar 1995 20:51:05 -self-opposites
From: Anton Sherwood <dashernetcom.com>
Subject: self-opposites

Content-Length: 333

Jules Levin wrote:
) This doesn't quite qualify, but 'overlook' means the opposite of 'look
) over': "My accountant looked over my records but overlooked a deduction..."

"The scandal has been blamed on an oversight
on the part of the Senate oversight committee."

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DAShernetcom.com
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Message 3: words that are their own opposites

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 95 22:47:00 CSTwords that are their own opposites
From: <GA5123SIUCVMB.SIU.EDU>
Subject: words that are their own opposites

 Jules Levin, in contrasting "look over" with "overlook", has
come close to citing my favorite autoantonym: oversight.
As in "The EPA's [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's] oversight
of toxic dumping."
 -----------------------------------
Lee Hartman ga5123siucvmb.siu.edu
Department of Foreign Languages
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4521 U.S.A.
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Message 4: Re: 6.108 Sum: Words that are their own opposites (part 2)

Date: Fri, 10 Mar 1995 11:58:26 Re: 6.108 Sum: Words that are their own opposites (part 2)
From: "Jim Swanson" <SWANSONJcolumbia.dsu.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.108 Sum: Words that are their own opposites (part 2)

After attending a meeting, I heard someone say, "The acceptance of
this plan will depend on its oversight." I immediately thought of
the meaning: "an unintentional omission or mistake" (AHD). What was
intended, however, was another meaning: "watchful care or management;
supervision"(AHD). The latter meaning, I think, is becoming the more
common one, but it still startles me. In the same way, synonyms may
become antonyms in compounds. "To oversee" is quite different from
"to overlook."
 I would also point out that nonstandard "borrow" for "lend" is
still heard. It may have about the same distribution as "learn" to
mean "teach." Up to at least the sixties, English textbooks for high
schools carried stern admonitions for both. So these uses must have
been quite common.
 Finally, there is the famous "bad" of Black English, which
signifies its opposite. Antithetical meanings may be common in slang
for their shock value. "Man, she's one tough babe," could indicate
two quite contrasting, if not opposite meanings.
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Message 5: RE: 6.293 Words that are their own opposites

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 1995 01:35 +01RE: 6.293 Words that are their own opposites
From: <WERTHALF.LET.UVA.NL>
Subject: RE: 6.293 Words that are their own opposites

Sue Morrish's posting on shame in Australian reminded me of a weird fact
about the same word in South African English, according to some SA friends.
This is that "Shame!" is used as an exclamation of joy by, for example, old
ladies seeing a newborn baby or a fluffy animal. The supposed explanation is
that "Shame!" as an exclamation of disapproval became an exclamation of
sympathy for somebody who has been ill-treated (so far, this parallels a
shift that I'm familiar with too). It then bleached out still further in SA
to a mere "back channel utterance", indicating that the listener was still
paying (sympathetic) attention, and then became a positive expression of
pleasure. Can anybody confirm either the data or the explanation?

BTW, WRT Benji Wald's posting, I understood the origin of a 'lucus a non
lucendo' to be St Isidore of Seville's _Origines sive etymologiae_ (7th C)
- according to Father Dinneen's book on the history of linguistics I think.
John T Waterman in his little book Perspectives on Linguistics (1963) gives
another example from the same source: bellum (war) from bellus (beautiful),
because war is far from beautiful!

Regards,
Paul Werth
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