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    #1

    In regards to semantics

    A big problem with the English language, at least for me, is when I have a hard time making a point because of semantics. Exactly what a word or phrase means can be confusing at times and different people can give it different meanings.

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    #2

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Yep.

    I don't know what else to say. This happens many times each day in contemporary American politics. Connotation trumps denotation (no pun intended).

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    #3

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Well for instance the word "excuse," there is sometimes, at least in my experience some confusion to the use of the word. What I think of it as an "excuse" is an attempt to get off the hook which doesn't work. For instance, lets say a student comes to school one day without their homework done. If their student says their dog ate it that's an excuse. It will not get the student off the hook. The famous, "my dog at it" excuse doesn't work, therefore its an excuse. On the other hand lets say the student was in a car crash on the way home from school the previous day and they broke their arm and they come to class with their arm in a cast and a note from the hospital. In that case they have a reason for not having their homework done and it should get them off the hook. The second case is not an excuse and its not supposed to be as its a reason and the student shouldn't be held responsible for not having their homework done since they really were in a car crash and they really did break their arm and they have their arm in a cast and a note from the hospital to prove it.

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    #4

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon Guy View Post
    What I think of it as an "excuse" is an attempt to get off the hook which doesn't work.
    That is not necessarily so.
    The second case is not an excuse
    Yes, it is.

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    #5

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon Guy View Post
    A big problem with the English language, at least for me, is when I have a hard time making a point because of semantics.
    What do you mean by 'semantics'? But seriously, this is not just an issue with English but with language itself.

    Exactly what a word or phrase means can be confusing at times and different people can give it different meanings.
    Yes, that's right. People use words in different ways. Meaning comes from so much more than simply which words are used.

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    #6

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    That is not necessarily so.
    Yes, it is.
    So when a student doesn't have their homework done, saying their dog ate it vs the student really being in a car crash and breaking their arm, are you saying they're both excuses? One gets the student off the hook the other one doesn't so there must be a difference.

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    #7

    Re: In regards to semantics

    You could say that the word an excuse has a basic meaning of a reason to be excused or a reason to be forgiven for not doing something.

    In this case, then yes, as you say, they're both excuses. The difference is that one is believable and one is not.

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    #8

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon Guy View Post
    Well for instance the word "excuse," there is sometimes, at least in my experience some confusion to the use of the word. What I think of it as an "excuse" is an attempt to get off the hook which doesn't work. For instance, lets say a student comes to school one day without their homework done. If their student says their dog ate it that's an excuse. It will not get the student off the hook. The famous, "my dog at it" excuse doesn't work, therefore its an excuse. On the other hand lets say the student was in a car crash on the way home from school the previous day and they broke their arm and they come to class with their arm in a cast and a note from the hospital. In that case they have a reason for not having their homework done and it should get them off the hook. The second case is not an excuse and its not supposed to be as its a reason and the student shouldn't be held responsible for not having their homework done since they really were in a car crash and they really did break their arm and they have their arm in a cast and a note from the hospital to prove it.

    Either way it is an excuse.
    True or not, an excuse is the way to answer the WHY?
    i.e to justify consequences

    cheers

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    #9

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    You could say that the word an excuse has a basic meaning of a reason to be excused or a reason to be forgiven for not doing something.

    In this case, then yes, as you say, they're both excuses. The difference is that one is believable and one is not.
    So you could say that the difference in the two examples is the legitimacy. A student who doesn't have their homework done because they really were in a car crash and broke their arm is a "legitimate excuse." A student who doesn't have their homework done because their dog ate it, that's an excuse but not a legitimate one.

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    #10

    Re: In regards to semantics

    Quote Originally Posted by Photon Guy View Post
    So you could say that the difference in the two examples is the legitimacy. A student who doesn't have their homework done because they really were in a car crash and broke their arm is a "legitimate excuse." A student who doesn't have their homework done because their dog ate it, that's an excuse but not a legitimate one.
    Yes, exactly. That's why we have the word pair 'legitimate excuse'.

    Similarly, somebody who was in a car crash might say "I haven't done my homework but I have a good excuse."

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