LINGUIST List 6.522

Fri 07 Apr 1995

Disc: Words that are their own opposites

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  1. Larry Rosenwald, Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites
  2. benji wald, Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites
  3. Ronald Cosper, Words that are their own opposites

Message 1: Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites

Date: Mon, 03 Apr 1995 10:16:49 Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites
From: Larry Rosenwald <LROSENWALDWELLESLEY.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites

 One more addition to this fascinating subject, from Vladimir
Nabokov's _Ada_:
 "Speaking as a botanist and a mad woman, [Ada] said, the most
extraordinary word in the English language was 'husked,' because
it stood for opposite things, covered and uncovered, tightly
husked but easily husked, meaning they pell off quite easily, you
don't have to tear the waistband, you brute. 'Carefully husked
brute," said Van [Ada's brother and lover] tenderly."
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Message 2: Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites

Date: Tue, 04 Apr 95 20:33 PDT
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.486 Words that are their own opposites

Content-Length: 10314

Now we ARE going too far with some of the examples.FOR = in spite of vs.
on behalf of.So does that mean WITH is a whachamacallit in view of
Achilles fought WITH the Greeks vs. Achilles fought WITH the Trojans
Also Swahili has examples like:
 a-li-mw-ib-Ia babake (he-Past-him-steal-APPLICATIVE)
 "he stole FOR his father" or "he stole FROM his father"
The verb suffix called applicative here allows these two among other
interpretations.With "die" it could mean "die FOR" or "die ON", as in
"my pet salamander died ON me", among other things. The Swahili
APPLICATIVE have so far defied a comprehensible analysis in terms of a
unified meaning (indicates an "affected" participant is too vague, also
applies to some other verb suffixes).However, it is "obvious" that the
uses called 'benefactive' (die for/steal for) and 'malefactive' (steal
from/die on) are just pragmatic inferences based on the same kind of
"affectedness". We'll never get anywhere with this discussion if we
keep coming up with things like opposite readings according to context with
English prepositions, among other things. But maybe I misunderstand, and
that's not the point of the discussion. I must say I'm amazed at the
longevity of this discussion. DOES ANYBODY OUT THERE KNOW IF THIS IS THE
RECORD FOR LONGEVITY OF A LING.LIST TOPIC?Benji
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Message 3: Words that are their own opposites

Date: Thu, 06 Apr 1995 15:51:45 Words that are their own opposites
From: Ronald Cosper <RCosperHUSKY1.STMARYS.CA>
Subject: Words that are their own opposites

I do not recall that the French word 'plus' has been mentioned.
1) J'en veux plus "I don't want any more."
2) J'en veux plus "I want more of it."

This ambiguity comes, of course, from the almost universal deletion of
the negative particle 'ne' in colloquial French.

Many speakers distinguish 1 and 2 by adding /s/ to the positive sense
of 'plus'in 2.There is thus now a tendency to create two distinct
lexemes because of the grammatical change of 'ne' deletion.However,
the relationship of/plys/ to /ply/ is clear in that before a vowel,
/plys/ in the positive sense, for example in a comparative
construction, is realized as /plyz/ rather than */plys/.

3) plus intelligent /plyz EntelijEn/ "more intelligent"
4)*/plys EntelijEn/

Or in another environment which would call for liaison in formal
contexts 5) 'un peu plus a gauche, s'il vous plaEEt' could have 3
variants:

5a) [plyz a go:sh]
5b) [ply a go:sh]
5c) [plys a go:sh]

The form 5a would seem more formal and 5b more colloquial.For some
speakers, at least, 5c is a possible variant, but the meaning may be
more emphatic, thus supporting the independent status of /plys/.

Originally, [plys] was only used in the mathematical sense of "plus"
or in a fixed phrase like the grammatical term 'plus que
parfait'.Apparently the final consonant was retained in Parisian
French only in these rather fixed phrases, and was dropped in more
general or productive uses.

The mathematical usage of [plys] may be the source of the positive and
emphatic senses of the now independent lexeme /plys/.Phonologically,
there would seem to be two lexemes now in colloquial French for many
people, then, /plyz/ and /plys/.In the formal language the final
consonant /z/ is dropped from /plyz/ before a word within the same
phrase beginning with a consonant./plys/ remains the same before a
consonant or vowel.

Ron Cosper

Dr. Ronald Cosper 20
Coordinator of Linguistics
Dept. of Sociology
Saint Mary's University Phone: (902)420-5874
923 Robie StreetFax: (902) 420-5121

Halifax, NS B3H 3C3 Internet: RCosperhusky1.stmarys.ca
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