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DISAMBIGUATE

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DISAMBIGUATE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:52 pm

• disambiguate •

Pronunciation: dis-æm-big-yu-ayt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To make clear, to clear up by removing ambiguities.

Notes: Will Strockbine, who suggested today's Good Word, seems to have found a genuine orphan negative: we have disambiguate, but ambiguate doesn't appear in any English dictionary. We have discussed several false orphan negatives like uncouth and immaculate, but disambiguate seems to be a genuine orphan. The situation is temporary, though, since ambiguate is already creeping into the Web. The noun is disambiguation, and disambiguative is the most likely candidate for an adjective derived from this verb.

In Play: Whenever a sentence or phrase has two or more potential meanings, it needs disambiguation: "Could you help me disambiguate the part about my being 'surplused'?" The need arises in a wide variety of situations: "When William Arami asked for my hand, I had to ask him to disambiguate his request—did he want to hold it or marry me?"

Word History: Today's Good Word is a verb derived from the adjective ambiguous. This adjective is an English makeover of Latin ambiguus "off-track, uncertain", which comes from ambigere "to wander about", made up of ambi- "around, on both sides" and agere "to drive". We see ambi again in ambidextrous, roughly, "right-handed on both sides". The Greek version, amphi, turns up in amphitheater, which English borrowed from Greek. In the Germanic languages, the original Proto-Indo-European root became German um "about, around" and English by. (We now unambiguously thank Will Strockbine for suggesting that we look into this very Good Word.)
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:52 pm

Unfortunately too many speakers and writers are all too willing to abiguate and obfuscate the subject. I've had teachers who could take what later proved to be quite simple and so muddy the waters they were impenetrable.
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Postby bamaboy56 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:30 pm

Perry says:
Unfortunately too many speakers and writers are all too willing to abiguate and obfuscate the subject.
It's been my experience that this happens because the speaker or writer doesn't know what they're talking about. The axiom "If you can't impress them with facts, baffle them with bull" comes to mind. In my former life as a court reporter, I've seen this tactic used many times by officers of the court.
Be who you are and say what you feel in your heart. Because those that matter, don't mind. And those that mind, don't matter.
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Postby Audiendus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:33 am

Wikipedia uses "disambiguation" in a specific sense, i.e. the splitting of an ambiguous topic title into two or more titles distinguished by the addition of a bracketed word or phrase. But "disambiguation" has other, slightly different, senses, and thus is an ambiguous topic title itself. So wikipedia has an entry about the disambiguation of the word "disambiguation".
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:50 pm

I think among some pedantic types, the use of unnecessarily big words and obscure terms makes them feel important. Certainly technical writing for peers can be an exception for people familiar with those terms. Big words can even be a shortcut to precision. But even within a profession and specialty I've seen other readers as proficient as the writer ask what did he say!

I saved a remark years ago from the Journal of Phenomenology: The reason for this is clear: the phenomenologically immedate is distally mediate. After rolling on the floor gasping for breath for five minutes, i got up, typed the sentence on an index card, and kept it nearby as a warning. At the time I understood the guy, but to claim clarity was ludicrous.
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Postby Audiendus » Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:18 pm

Yes, sometimes one can be too concise.

The word "distal(ly)" is new to me. I will bear it in mind in case I need a rhyme for "pistol" or "Bristol". :?
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Re: DISAMBIGUATE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:22 pm

All the postings in the above thread after Doc's are blank.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: DISAMBIGUATE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:23 pm

I can read them.
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Re: DISAMBIGUATE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:49 pm

I can read your last one Perry, but the above ones are still blank.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: DISAMBIGUATE

Postby rbeard » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:28 pm

Try emptying your browser cache, Perry. Do you leave your computer on all the time? Andrew made significant changes last night.
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Re: DISAMBIGUATE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:32 pm

But I cannot read the one immediately above me.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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