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Posted in July 2017

Abstraction Posted on 10 July 2017 by James Cowan in General Semantics

In my previous blog about General Semantics (see "Jargon 2: All in the ear of the beholder", 18 February 2017), I touched briefly on the topic of abstraction. The idea that in most cases we are only talking about certain aspects of something, not the whole thing. Thus, depending on your topic, you may want to talk about a cow as a heavy animal which damages damp pasture by walking upon it. Or as an animal which can generate ... Read more

English grammar Posted by James Cowan on 20 July 2017 in English language; Writing

I mentioned in an earlier blog that English is not "rule-based', merely a system of conventions ("More art than science", 3 October 2016, under Proofreading). That is, there are very few ways to be entirely "wrong" in English, although there are traps that can make you look less clever in the way you write. The easy one, that a surprising number of writers fall into, is to let the form of the verb (the "doing") and the number of "actors" who are ... Read more

Troubling phrases 2 Posted on 30 July 2017 by James Cowan in Troubling phrases

I saw the other day a magazine entitled "UFOlogy" on the same shelf as New Scientist in the local corner store. As if there really was a science devoted to "UFOs". A UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object. So the science is devoted to the unknown. Sounds terribly metaphysical. But why should any flying object be "unknown"? Does it mean "Not yet identified", in the way that a mate of mine used to say that a fish in a rock ... Read more

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