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Thread: oxymoron

  1. #1
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Default oxymoron

    Dear teachers,
    The following is from oxymoron exercise:

    1. She found an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor.
    2. People now talk about virtual reality. I honestly don't know what it means.

    Could you please kindly explain why the italized parts are oxymoron?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang

  2. #2
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    Default Re: oxymoron

    1. Christian Science
    2. virtual reality

    They're opposites.

    Science is based on what can be quantified. How do we quantify something we can't see or touch; i.e., God.

    Virtual isn't real--it's almost real or real-like, whereas reality is real.

    Does that help?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: oxymoron

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,
    The following is from oxymoron exercise:

    1. She found an interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor.
    2. People now talk about virtual reality. I honestly don't know what it means.

    Could you please kindly explain why the italized parts are oxymoron?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    The phrase is an oxymoron if you take one meaning of virtual:
    This is from Answers.com.

    virtual (vr'chū-əl) pronunciation
    adj.

    1. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name: the virtual extinction of the buffalo.
    2. Existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Used in literary criticism of a text.
    3. Computer Science. Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network: virtual conversations in a chatroom.


    In meaning 1, especially in the sense "not in actual fact", virtual doesn't seem to be applicable to reality. In the phrase 'virtual reality', though, the meaning is 3 (and there is no oxymoron).

    b

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    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: oxymoron


    Dear Cas,
    Thank you very much for your explanation. Now I see.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    1. Christian Science
    2. virtual reality

    They're opposites.

    Science is based on what can be quantified. How do we quantify something we can't see or touch; i.e., God.

    Virtual isn't real--it's almost real or real-like, whereas reality is real.

    Does that help?

  5. #5
    jiang is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: oxymoron

    &
    Dear BobK,
    I think I understand the definitions of the word 'virtual'. What I am not sure is your explanation "In meaning 1, especially in the sense "not in actual fact", virtual doesn't seem to be applicable to reality. In the phrase 'virtual reality', though, the meaning is 3 (and there is no oxymoron)".
    Do you mean:
    1. My sentence bears meaning 1, which means "not in actual fact". Therefore it is oxymoron.
    2. Meaning 3 does mean 'something real' but it is used in computer science, which doesn't agree with my sentence. And if it is used in computer science it is not oxymoron. In other words, my sentence should take meaning 1, which is oxymoron.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    The phrase is an oxymoron if you take one meaning of virtual:
    This is from Answers.com.

    virtual (vr'chū-əl) pronunciation
    adj.

    1. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name: the virtual extinction of the buffalo.
    2. Existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Used in literary criticism of a text.
    3. Computer Science. Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network: virtual conversations in a chatroom.


    In meaning 1, especially in the sense "not in actual fact", virtual doesn't seem to be applicable to reality. In the phrase 'virtual reality', though, the meaning is 3 (and there is no oxymoron).

    b

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: oxymoron

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    ...
    2. Meaning 3 does mean 'something real' but it is used in computer science, which doesn't agree with my sentence. And if it is used in computer science it is not oxymoron. In other words, my sentence should take meaning 1, which is oxymoron. ...
    I'm not sure what you mean by "take" a meaning, but your first two sentences are true. The phrase 'virtual reality' always refers to computers, so in my view there is no oxymoron - although, if you understand 'virtual' in that dictionary definition's meaning 1, there seems to be.

    b

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    Default Re: oxymoron

    The same holds true for most, if not all oxymorons. They are meaningful; e.g., jumbo shrimp, military intelligence, etc. Here's a list, OxymoronList.com

    oxymoron (n.), a figure of speech that combines two usually contradictory terms in a compressed paradox, as in the word bittersweet or the phrase living death. Source: Literary Dictionary cited here.

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

    Sorry if I misled you, Jiang.

    b

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    Default Re: oxymoron

    Personally, I don't feel you misled anyone. There's this assumption out there that oxymorons, because they are funny and/or semantically awkward, somehow lack meaning, when in fact they house meaning above and beyond what their separate constituents imply. That is, what you see isn't what you get. A case in point, virtual reality. It's a marriage of contradictions to some, and to others it's a marriage that results in the birth of a new meaning.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: oxymoron


    Dear BobK,
    Sorry I didn't express myself clearly. Maybe I should say 'My sentence agrees with your meaning 1' instead of using the word 'take'.

    Jiang

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean by "take" a meaning, but your first two sentences are true. The phrase 'virtual reality' always refers to computers, so in my view there is no oxymoron - although, if you understand 'virtual' in that dictionary definition's meaning 1, there seems to be.

    b

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