LINGUIST List 6.556

Thu 13 Apr 1995

Disc: Words that are their opposites

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  1. "David M. W. Powers", Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
  2. Hartmut Haberland, Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
  3. , Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
  4. Roland Stuckardt, Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
  5. "Gowlett, DF, Derek, Mr", self-opposites
  6. benji wald, Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
  7. , Words that are their own opposites

Message 1: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 12:49:27 Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
From: "David M. W. Powers" <powersist.flinders.edu.au>
Subject: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites


Given we are bringing in the interaction of the different functions
and roles of prepositions/particles, as well as constrasts across
languages, here is one of my standard examples - which is relvant to
Alex's restore/eliminate paradigm:

English: She kills him.
German: Sie bringt ihm um.
Gloss: She brings him around.
English: She revives him.

Another hairy area is different scopes of "until/bis" and "as soon
as/des que". The problem is not really autoantonmy, but rather a too
naive association of the English gloss with the German/English word.

Two examples (a headline in a German newspaper and a sign on every train door
in the Paris metro resp., but I can't remember it exactly).

English: No more posion gas in German by/after September.
German: Kein Giftgas mehr in Deutschland bis September.
Gloss: No poison gas more in Germany until September.

English: Do not open the doors until the train ...
French: Ne pas ouvrir les portes des que le train ...
Gloss: (Do) not open the doors as soon as the train ...


 powersacm.org http://www.cs.flinders.edu.au/people/DMWPowers.html
Associate Professor David Powers David.Powersflinders.edu.au
 SIGART Editor; SIGNLL Chair Facsimile: +61-8-201-3626
Department of Computer Science UniOffice: +61-8-201-3663
The Flinders University of South Australia Secretary: +61-8-201-2662
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide South Australia 5001 HomePhone: +61-8-357-4220

Ein Reiher hob ein Knie, Bohre hier nie. (A palindrome)
"A heron raised a knee, never woodpeckers here" (???)
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Message 2: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 07:21:04 Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
From: Hartmut Haberland <hartmutruc.dk>
Subject: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

Mentioning Chinese "jie" 'to lend/to borrow' reminds of German
"leihen/borgen" which normatively speaking should be 'to lend' and 'to
borrow', resp., but which in actual usage both have both meanings.
Danish "at laere" means both 'to teach' and 'to learn'. This doesn't seem to
have worried anybody (since context usually helps) until scholars of (first
and) second language learning needed a Danish word for 'learner'. "laerer"
was already established in the meaning of 'teacher'. So they borrowed
'learner' from English as "loerner". (ae= ae-ligature, oe= o-slash)
Hartmut Haberland
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Message 3: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

Date: Mon, 10 Apr 1995 06:46:47 Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
From: <MOKENNONACAD.ALBION.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

when i posted my xhosa example "abafundi" = "the students" or "they do not
study", i neglected to tell you that in spoken xhosa, the tonal structure of
the "sentence" disambiguates it. here is august cluver's reply to me.

)Your Xhosa example works only in the written form: abafundi
)("the students") has high tone on the first vowel, whereas
)abafundi ("they do not study") has low tone on the first vowel.

)August Cluver
)Department of Linguistics
)University of South Africa

but here is one for alex eulenberg. how about "i fixed my dog" when he wasn't
really broke?

martha
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Message 4: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

Date: Tue, 11 Apr 1995 17:06:39 Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites
From: Roland Stuckardt <stuckarddarmstadt.gmd.de>
Subject: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites


Another example of auto-antonymy which, according to the originator
of the discussion topic, hasn't been mentioned on Linguist yet,
is "transparent":

(1) In one sense, transparency of a material or object means that
one can see through it - in other words, the material or
object is more or less INVISIBLE.

But to my mind (I'm not a native speaker of English), a more or
less opposite reading is also possible:
(2) A material/object/matter is transparent in a certain surrounding
if it is VISIBLE because one can "see through" the physical or
virtual things which make up its surrounding.

Some years ago, in a Database Systems Lecture held at the University
of Frankfurt in Germany, this auto-antonymy caused some confusion
under the students. The lecturer discussed a slide showing some
aspects of a database system with the property of "being transparent
to the user". However, it was not clear to all students that he ment
reading (1), because in German Language (the lecture was given
in German, but based (at least in certain parts) on English
literature), there seems to be a slight preference for reading (2).

Roland Stuckardt
GMD Darmstadt, Group KONTEXT (Text Analysis Systems)
Germany
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Message 5: self-opposites

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 1995 11:42:13 self-opposites
From: "Gowlett, DF, Derek, Mr" <GOWLETTbeattie.uct.ac.za>
Subject: self-opposites

In her letter of April 8, martha o'kennon states that in Xhosa (a
Bantu language of South Africa), the word (abafundi) can mean "the
students" and "they do not study".

Not so! There is a tonal difference:

 Verb Noun

 abafundi (LLHL) HLHL (they don't study/students)
 abadlali (LLHL) HLFL (they don't play/players)
 abasebenzi (LLLHL) HLLHL (they don't work/workers)
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Message 6: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 95 22:47 PDT
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.531 Words that are their opposites

I accept Eulenberg's answer that the point of the discussion is to
discover more and more ways that some words can have opposite inter-
pretations in different contexts (I'm paraphrasing, accurately I hope).
But I'm also starting to be persuaded by some of the examples that
language is a very imprecise way of communicating information (only
kidding? I can't think of a better one for the kinds of things we're
saying.) So do we now move on to "the man broke his glasses"?
Note that "his" can refer to the subject or it might have the "opposite"
meaning of the "other" person mentioned before (first the man talked to
the boy and then he broke his glasses). Also what about the "opposite"
 meanings of "the man" or"the boy" or "he" for the one with blue-eyes
vs. the one with brown-eyes. To get serious, are there criteria for
distinguishing ambiguity (the superclass of oppositeness) from
non-specificity? Benji
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Message 7: Words that are their own opposites

Date: Wed, 12 Apr 95 23:41:17 CSWords that are their own opposites
From: <GA5123SIUCVMB.SIU.EDU>
Subject: Words that are their own opposites

 As to whether auto-antonyms have provided a discussion of
record length, I don't know. Some readers may be tiring of it,
while others are still enthusiastic, but I'm sure both sides will agree
that it's a hell of a topic!

Lee Hartman ga5123siucvmb.siu.edu
Department of Foreign Languages
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4521 U.S.A.
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