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Thread: antagonyms

  1. #1
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default antagonyms

    I am not sure whether I can put my question just into this section, linguistics... I am sorry if you don't find it "convenient".


    I've read about antagonyms here: http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary/antagonym.html .


    I just can't imagine any sentences where some of the words really would have different (opposite) meanings...

    Could you write some sentences (for both of the meanings) using the following ones? - citation, cut, dust, literally, moot, oversight.

    It would be really helpful! Thank you.

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    I am not sure whether I can put my question just into this section, linguistics... I am sorry if you don't find it "convenient".


    I've read about antagonyms here: http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary/antagonym.html .


    I just can't imagine any sentences where some of the words really would have different (opposite) meanings...

    Could you write some sentences (for both of the meanings) using the following ones? - citation, cut, dust, literally, moot, oversight.

    It would be really helpful! Thank you.
    I will write some senetnces and then try to indicate why the words are called anatgonyms.

    John received a citation for speeding. (a bad thing -- a traffic ticket)
    John received a citation for bravery. (a good thing -- an award)

    John cut in line outside the movie theater. (entered a line of people)
    John cut class last Thursday. (left a group of students in a classroom)

    Mary dusted the furniture for the party. (removed dust from the furniture)
    The detective dusted the table for fingerprints. (applied dust to the table)

    John literally turned into a demon. (it wasn't literal at all)
    John translated the passage literally. (word for word)

    You don't have to worry about that now; it's a moot point. (argument is no longer necessary)
    The students presented their arguments in moot court. (a place where arguments are heard)

    His oversight of the project was credited with its success. (careful management)
    The project's failure was blamed on several oversights. (careless mistake)

    Don't get too excited about antagonyms (aka contranyms). While they point out some interesting conflicts in meaning, context almost always resolves the difficulty.
    Last edited by MikeNewYork; 15-Oct-2006 at 21:04.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    His oversight of the project was credited with its success. (careful management)
    The project's failure was blamed on several oversights. (careless mistake)
    This is an interesting one. The verbs related to this antagonym are not antagonyms:

    Although I oversee the project, I sometimes overlook a few details.


    b

    ps

    "Appropriate", Lenka, rather than "convenient" . If it was inconvenient, we'd be annoyed or upset, or made to do something we didn't want to.

    Can I speak to you now, or would it be more convenient if I came back later?

    but

    I don't think it's appropriate for you to use that tone of voice.

  4. #4
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    "Appropriate", Lenka, rather than "convenient" . If it was inconvenient, we'd be annoyed or upset, or made to do something we didn't want to.

    Can I speak to you now, or would it be more convenient if I came back later?

    but

    I don't think it's appropriate for you to use that tone of voice.
    What about word "suitable"? Can I use it in both these sentences?

  5. #5
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post

    You don't to (have to ??) worry about that now; it's a moot point. (argument is no longer necessary)
    The students presented their arguments in moot court. (a place where arguments are heard)
    1) meaning: legal case
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press
    2) meaning: discussion
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

    Is it right as I wrote it? Have I understood it well?

  6. #6
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Can I use "dust" in the following meaning?

    "She dusted the buns with some sugar." ("sprinkled" it with sugar)

  7. #7
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    What about word "suitable"? Can I use it in both these sentences?
    It would be acceptable, to my ear, although it would have quite different overtones, which I'll try to explain (though I'm not sure I can):

    Can I speak to you now, or would it be more convenient if I came back later?
    is asking about the addressee's view of what is convenient (for him - maybe he's busy)
    Can I speak to you now, or would it be more suitable if I came back later?
    is asking about what is suitable in view of the situation (maybe he wants to discuss a surprise present, and the recipient is in earshot)

    I don't think it's appropriate for you to use that tone of voice.
    is admonitory - a teacher might say it to an over-assertive child
    I don't think it's suitable for you to use that tone of voice.
    is advisory - perhaps the speaker is giving advice about how to handle a tricky negotiation

    That's the best I can do. Maybe I'm being too sensitive about a difference. Perhaps some other native speaker will have a view.

    b

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Can I use "dust" in the following meaning?

    "She dusted the buns with some sugar." ("sprinkled" it with sugar)
    Yes, but the sugar has to have the appropriate consistency! If it's icing sugar, you'd say 'dusted'; if it's granulated sugar (the sort that - confusingly - is called sucre en poudre in French, I think) you'd say 'sprinkled'.

    b

  9. #9
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Thank you very much, Bob!

  10. #10
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: antagonyms

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    1) meaning: legal case
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press
    2) meaning: discussion
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

    Is it right as I wrote it? Have I understood it well?
    Yes, I have corrected my original post.

    If you are talkig about "moot", the original legal meaning was "a matter that was subject to argument or debate. In general usage, however, it has come to mean something that no longer needs to be argued or debated because circumstances have changed.

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