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  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #31

    Re: desert and deserted

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I think you're wrong now, in two of your three points. First, Antarctica is most surely a desert and not because of being a wilderness, but because it hardly snows there. It isn't a hot desert though. But that's still the humidity-related meaning of the word.
    Yes, you're right

    And I think you're also wrong about that other meaning when you say there's no such thing.
    Which other thing?

    The "etymology" section in the Wikipedia article about deserts says that clearly I think. Desert - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    PS: Surely, Antarctica is a desert when we speak about controlled language. I don't know about the natural language though.
    OK, you're right. I'm not a geographer.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #32

    Re: desert and deserted

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Maybe I'll paste the excerpt so that everybody can see it:

    I'm not sure if I can do it without violating the copyright. If I can't please tell me, I will remove it.
    You can post short excerpts. But you should also cite the reference, eg. the journal you got it from, the author and date.

  3. IHIVG's Avatar
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    #33

    Re: desert and deserted

    Originally Posted by IHIVG
    First off, I do understand that there's a difference and that the two words don't necessarily mean the same (i.e. desert - 'desert-like', bare of vegetation; deserted - 'desolate, uninhabited'). But the dictionaries give another definition for 'desert', which made me think that there's an overlap.

    From M-W dictionary:

    Main Entry: 2des·ert

    Pronunciation: \ˈde-zərt\
    Function:
    adjective
    Date: 13th century

    1
    : desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied <a desert island>

    Is this not an adjective?

    Yes, it is. The index word 'desert' is defined as being an adjective; 'desolate', 'occupied' and 'unoccupied' are adjectives, and 'sparsely' is an adverb.
    Then you seem to be equivocating. What was the point of your saying that M-W doesn't give 'desert' as an adjective if you're now saying that it does.

    But I don't understand your explanation that the defintion above is somehow different from that of simply 'desolate'.
    Well, on the face of it, "desolate" and "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied" are different, unless you claim that "sparsely occupied or unoccupied" is strictly synonymous with 'desolate'.
    I don't see the difference between 'desolate' and 'unoccupied'. I wouldn't want to go into details and say that they are 'strict synonyms' (I tend to believe that 'strict synonyms' is a rare phenomenon in languages. But in my view, both can be used interchangeably in proper context. If you disagree with this, what is your argument?
    But if this were the case, why has the dictionary committed this redundancy?
    Who knows why it has.
    It's actually not the first time the dictionaries give some strange definitions that don't seem to conform to how people actually use the words in life.

    In general, I think you'd accept that A + B does not equal A, unless B is zero, or of no consequence in the context.
    Yes, but this is not math, and I'm still not convinced why A and B are different.
    All I'm saying is that
    "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied" obviously had different connotations to the lexicographer than "desolate" by itself did. I don't know what difference the lexicographer had in mind, if you don't clearly see the difference, how can you claim that there is?) Also, what about "an empty or forsaken place'? but perhaps s/he was attempting to clarify that other meanings of 'desolate' don't mean 'desert'(adj). For example, a women who has lost a child can be desolate. But, since she is not "sparsely occupied or unoccupied", she cannot be described as being "a desert woman".
    I understand that. I was not talking about 'desolate' having the definition of 'disconsolate'. I know that. But this is not relevant to the point being discussed.

    I thought your argument was that "desert" and "deserted" as adjectives were synonymous. Yes, that they can or cannot be depending on the context (but my argument was based only on the difinitions given in the dictionaries and also on my own understanding since I was taught that way.)

    Are you accepting now that they are not, I've accepted it on the basis that bhaisahab, bertietheblue and you told me that they are not. and moving on to the difference between "desert" and "desolate" as adjectives?

    Again, my argument is not that these two words are the same. My argument is that I find it illogical that you say that the 'desert wood' is impossible (which I believe you btw), yet don't accept that the dictionaries are wrong . Now, if you're going to say that those definitions for the word 'desert' (particularly, "an empty or forsaken place"; 'desolate and unoccupied') are incorrect, then my argument is done. But since you claim that they are not, I don't quite understand your point.

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    #34

    Re: desert and deserted

    Which other thing?
    As far as I can understand we're discussing the word "desert" used as an adjective. One meaning (or several strictly related meanings) of it seem to be obvious for everybody, that is "similar to a desert", "located in a desert" and so on where a desert is a place with a low rain- or snowfall.
    By the other thing I mean the other meaning, whose existence we're discussing. That meaning is "unpopulated", "desolate", "deserted". The excerpt I've given says IMHO that this meaning exists in English. It may noy be used too much these days, but it's English anyways.

    PS: actually I didn't mean an adjective but a noun in that particular post.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 15-Jul-2010 at 18:20.

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    #35

    Re: desert and deserted

    Thank you for all comments.

    As I understood (mainly from bhaisahab's posts) the two words are mostly used in the following meanings:

    A desert island first of all means an island without any kinds of plants but not necessarily uninhabited. Whereas a deserted island means only an unpopulated island.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #36

    Re: desert and deserted

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    Originally Posted by IHIVG

    Is this not an adjective?

    Yes, it is. The index word 'desert' is defined as being an adjective; 'desolate', 'occupied' and 'unoccupied' are adjectives, and 'sparsely' is an adverb.
    Then you seem to be equivocating. What was the point of your saying that M-W doesn't give 'desert' as an adjective if you're now saying that it does.
    Oh yes, sorry. I missed the second page of M-W.

    I don't see the difference between 'desolate' and 'unoccupied'. I wouldn't want to go into details and say that they are 'strict synonyms' (I tend to believe that 'strict synonyms' is a rare phenomenon in languages. But in my view, both can be used interchangeably in proper context. If you disagree with this, what is your argument?
    I agree that a pair of words are interchangeable in contexts where they are strict synonyms. But that's a rather trivial observation.


    All I'm saying is that
    "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied" obviously had different connotations to the lexicographer than "desolate" by itself did. I don't know what difference the lexicographer had in mind, if you don't clearly see the difference, how can you claim that there is?) Also, what about "an empty or forsaken place'?
    No, what I said is that I don't know the lexicographer's reason for his definition, not that I couldn't think of a reason. In fact, I've given a possible reason below

    but perhaps s/he was attempting to clarify that other meanings of 'desolate' don't mean 'desert'(adj). For example, a women who has lost a child can be desolate. But, since she is not "
    sparsely occupied or unoccupied", she cannot be described as being "a desert woman".
    I understand that. I was not talking about 'desolate' having the definition of 'disconsolate'. I know that. But this is not relevant to the point being discussed.
    It is relevant because it gives a possible explanation for the lexicographer
    having written "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied" as a definition for 'desert'(adj) rather than just 'desolute'. It's relevant because it's a definition different from the one you are claiming, that desert(adj) = desolate. In fact, I think that your not seeing the relevance of the exact wording of this definition could be the reason you could find no dictionary in which all these words don't mean the same thing.
    Again, my argument is not that these two words are the same. My argument is that I find it illogical that you say that the 'desert wood' is impossible (which I believe you btw), yet don't accept that the dictionaries are wrong.
    I don't believe I've been asked whether the definitions are wrong.

    Now, if you're going to say that those definitions for the word 'desert' (particularly, "an empty or forsaken place"; 'desolate and unoccupied') are incorrect, then my argument is done. But since you claim that they are not,
    I don't quite understand your point.
    I haven't yet claimed anything about whether the dictionaries are right or wrong.
    If I knew that these two dictionaries were the only ones you'd consulted, I would not have said that your claim was so strange. But you did say you looked at all the dictionaries possible, or something to that effect, and they all said the same thing. If you have looked at more, and if you gave me those references, I'd have a better idea about how to resolve this problem. In any case, I now have a better understanding of the dilemma you have with these words/dictionaries.
    I'll look at those definitions again, plus a few more dictionaries, and post my conclusion.

  7. IHIVG's Avatar
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    #37

    Re: desert and deserted

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    It is relevant because it gives a possible explanation for the lexicographer having written "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied" as a definition for 'desert'(adj) rather than just 'desolute'. It's relevant because it's a definition different from the one you are claiming, that desert(adj) = desolate. In fact, I think that your not seeing the relevance of the exact wording of this definition could be the reason you could find no dictionary in which all these words don't mean the same thing.
    You miss my point. I agree with the example you've given that since a person can't be 'sparsely occupied or unoccupied', we can't refer to people as being 'desert'. In fact, my first post on this thread was a claim that places can be both 'deserted' and 'desert' while a person only 'deserted.
    When I said 'desolate', the image that I constantly had in mind was that of a wild wood that was formerly inhabited and now it's unpopulated.
    I brought up 'desolate' to talk about places, not people, and my whole argument was built around bhai's bertie's and your 'desert-wood-is-not-possible' idea.


    I've checked the dictionaries again. Here're the definitions I still find confusing:
    1. desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied Desert - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    2. wild and uninhabited desert - Definition of desert at YourDictionary.com
    3. located in a dismal or remote area; desolate;
    Desert definition by Babylon's free dictionary
    Definition of Desert from dictionary.net
    Definition of DESERT (Meaning of DESERT), a 6 Letter Word
    desert (definition)
    desert - definition, thesaurus and related words from WordNet-Online
    Kids.Net.Au - Dictionary > Definition: desert
    desert

    I’ve consulted my Lingvo12 (Russian<->English) dictionary, the definitions of which (for ‘desert’) are the most confusing. But I can’t post them here and it would be of no use anyway.
    Also, here’s where ‘desert’ is listed as being synonymous with 'lonely', 'solitary', 'desolate' and 'uninhabited':
    desert - definition of desert by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

    I mean, let's look at those parts in bold. Do you see anything there that would preclude me from thinking that 'a desert wood' is possible?
    I don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I haven't yet claimed anything about whether the dictionaries are right or wrong.
    I don't quite follow you here. I took it to mean that you've been defending the 'desolate and unoccupied' definition provided by the dictionary to explain to me where I was wrong. If you're defending something or someone, isn't it obvious that you think of them as being right?
    I don't believe I've been asked whether the definitions are wrong.
    Sorry, but you're just dodging the question.
    What would you think my argument was and what we've been talking about?
    If I knew that these two dictionaries were the only ones you'd consulted, I would not have said that your claim was so strange.
    I'm trying to understand your logic. Are you implying that if only two dictionaries give some possibly incorrect definitions, then that's nothing to be surprised at?
    I'll look at those definitions again, plus a few more dictionaries, and post my conclusion.
    I'd be glad if you did.

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    #38

    Re: desert and deserted

    I can see that my piece of information from wikipedia didn't arouse anybody's interest, but I would still be very grateful for any comments on it.

  9. IHIVG's Avatar
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    #39

    Re: desert and deserted

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    By the other thing I mean the other meaning, whose existence we're discussing. That meaning is "unpopulated", "desolate", "deserted". The excerpt I've given says IMHO that this meaning exists in English. It may noy be used too much these days, but it's English anyways.
    The excerpt you've given says that its usage dates back to 19th century. So I'm not sure what you want to say by quoting and bringing it here. Personally, I would not claim that 'the meaning exists' or that 'it's English anyways' only on the grounds that it was used some centuries ago.
    However, I'm not surprised to see that there're other references that contradict the theory of this excerpt:
    1. An empty or forsaken place; a wasteland: a cultural desert.
    desert - definition of desert by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
    desert - Definition of desert at YourDictionary.com

    2. a desolate or forbidding area <lost in a desert of doubt>
    Desert - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary

    3. a boring place where nothing happens or where everything is the same
    desert - definition of desert, by Macmillan Dictionary: Free English Dictionary Online and Thesaurus.

    4. A tract, which may be capable of sustaining a population, but has been left unoccupied and uncultivated; a wilderness; a solitary place. [1913 Webster]
    Definition of Desert from dictionary.net

    I can recall a few times when I personally heard 'desert' (n.) used in the meanings like 3 and perhaps 1 above (when I lived in the US). It's similar to Raymott's metaphorical examples.
    I've never heard 'desert' used as an adjective to mean 'desolate' though.

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    #40

    Re: desert and deserted

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    The excerpt you've given says that its usage dates back to 19th century. So I'm not sure what you want to say by quoting and bringing it here. Personally, I would not claim that 'the meaning exists' or that 'it's English anyways' only on the grounds that it was used some centuries ago.
    I can understand that it doesn't have to be accepted that older/unused words (or their meanings) exist in English. I understand you'd rather say they existed. OK, I think otherwise, but I'm not about to start a pointless discussion about it. But we're talking about dictionaries' entries. We don't know (or I don't know) what were their authors' points of view. Also, I don't know when they lived. Dictionaries are updated of course, but I have little knowledge on how the process is handled. For me it could be that some of those entries have remained unchanged for a very long time, having been produced by a sentimental old scholar or just anyone.

    Furthermore, it's a little bit of an exaggeration to say that the 19th century took place centuries ago. I can't remember it, but my grandparents could.


    However
    , I'm not surprised to see that there're other references that contradict the theory of this excerpt
    I don't see the contradiction... Could you point it out?

    I can recall a few times when I personally heard 'desert' (n.) used in the meanings like 3 and perhaps 1 above (when I lived in the US). It's similar to Raymott's metaphorical examples.
    I agree, I also think these are metaphorical.

    I've never heard 'desert' used as an adjective to mean 'desolate' though.
    I thought you started from defending this meaning, was I wrong?

    I don't think I heard it either. But I knew this meaning from somewhere before reading the wikipedia article. I associate it with the Bible, so maybe it was in there. I don't know.
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 16-Jul-2010 at 22:31. Reason: dictionaries, not the dictionaries

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