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Thread: to play out

  1. #1
    CuriousT Guest

    Default to play out

    Hi,

    I have a question about the phrase "to play out". What does it mean in the following context?

    "It has become commonplace to observe the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign. But that is playing out even in public reaction to the scandal over the American abuse of some detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."

    From the context, it seems to mean something like "to unfold" or "to develop". I checked more than 10 dictionaries (for native speakers as well as for ESL learners), but none of them gives a definition that fits in this context. Is this a relatively new usage?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    CuriousT

  2. #2
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    Default Re: to play out

    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousT
    Hi,

    I have a question about the phrase "to play out". What does it mean in the following context?

    "It has become commonplace to observe the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign. But that is playing out even in public reaction to the scandal over the American abuse of some detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."

    From the context, it seems to mean something like "to unfold" or "to develop". I checked more than 10 dictionaries (for native speakers as well as for ESL learners), but none of them gives a definition that fits in this context. Is this a relatively new usage?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    CuriousT
    Unfolding sounds great. Also, it's happening. :D

  3. #3
    CuriousT Guest

    Default Re: to play out

    Thank you for your reply, Casiopea!

    CuriousT

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    Default Re: to play out

    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousT
    Thank you for your reply, Casiopea!

    CuriousT
    You're welcome. :D

  5. #5
    japanjapan is offline Member
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    Default Re: to play out

    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousT
    "It has become commonplace to observe the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign. But that is playing out even in public reaction to the scandal over the American abuse of some detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."
    CuriousT
    Dear teachers,
    I read that sentence and the explanation, but I still do not understand the meaning of the sentence.
    What does the whole sentence mean?
    What is "the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign"?
    What is "polarization"?
    What does "play out" mean, can u give me another clear and easier explanation?

    thanks a lot

  6. #6
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    Default Re: to play out

    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan
    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousT
    "It has become commonplace to observe the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign. But that is playing out even in public reaction to the scandal over the American abuse of some detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."
    CuriousT
    Dear teachers,
    I read that sentence and the explanation, but I still do not understand the meaning of the sentence.
    What does the whole sentence mean?
    What is "the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign"?
    What is "polarization"?
    What does "play out" mean, can u give me another clear and easier explanation?

    thanks a lot
    I'm not 100% sure, so take this with a grain of salt: given that polarize means, among other things, directly opposite in character, I believe the sentence in question, or rather, the writer's view of the situation has to do with shedding light on inconsistencies: the public, like the electorate seem to be switching their views and opinions in accordance with the amount of new information, constantly coming to light via the media. General opinions fluctuate because of the inconsistencies resulting from the way in which the media reports the news.

  7. #7
    Susie Smith Guest

    Default Re: to play out

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan
    Quote Originally Posted by CuriousT
    "It has become commonplace to observe the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign. But that is playing out even in public reaction to the scandal over the American abuse of some detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."
    CuriousT
    Dear teachers,
    I read that sentence and the explanation, but I still do not understand the meaning of the sentence.
    What does the whole sentence mean?
    What is "the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign"?
    What is "polarization"?
    What does "play out" mean, can u give me another clear and easier explanation?

    thanks a lot
    I'm not 100% sure, so take this with a grain of salt: given that polarize means, among other things, directly opposite in character, I believe the sentence in question, or rather, the writer's view of the situation has to do with shedding light on inconsistencies: the public, like the electorate seem to be switching their views and opinions in accordance with the amount of new information, constantly coming to light via the media. General opinions fluctuate because of the inconsistencies resulting from the way in which the media reports the news.
    Let me add my two cents worth to this topic. The main meaning of "play out" which I am familiar with is "to bring to an end" or "exhaust". Look, the second sentence in the quote begins with "but", which is a sure sign of contrast. Right? I think the passage means that public opinion was sharply divided, but due to the horrors (IMO) disclosed recently, public opinion is no longer so divided. Does this make sense to you?

  8. #8
    CuriousT Guest

    Default Re: to play out

    Hi,

    I should have put a link to the original article in order to avoid confusion. It's a piece from Christian Science Monitor. You can take a look at the entire article here:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0510/p01s02-uspo.html

    CuriousT

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    While 'play out' can carry Susie's meaning, I agree with Cas's meaning- it can mean both, though they are rather contradictory. I just think it means 'happening' or 'occurring' here.

  10. #10
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Re:
    • "It has become commonplace to observe the sharp polarization of the electorate in the 2004 campaign. But that is playing out even in public reaction to the scandal over the American abuse of some detainees in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison."


    The quote indicates that the public was and is still divided and that division of opinion shows in the differing reactions to the news.

    :)

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