Word Puzzle Answer - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
Word Puzzle Answer|
So, yesterday, I asked for a word that had a self-contradictory definition (distinct from the question of words that have multiple definitions which contradict each other).
"Says You" had one answer:Naturalize
- the process of putting an object into its natural state. The contradiction lies within the notion that an object can artificially be put into a natural state. As Wes commented, this is a euphemism, and isn't used literally.
And my answer:Nondescript
- "lacking distinctive qualities" or "not easily described". Hm, if only there were an adjective that could easily describe that distinctive quality of an object. Hey, there is, it's "nondescript". Similarly, using 'indescribable' to modify a noun is an act of description. Oops.
This one isn't a euphemism, I just think of it as a weird construction.
I always thought naturalize meant *returning* something to its natural state. You can't do this perfectly of course, but it isn't really an oxymoron.
I like yours, though. It's a cool paradox that something can't really be nondescript.
I don't think I'm following you. Returning means it is put back. If something is "returned" to its natural state, then in what state was it during the interim? Like Dave said, an artificial state, right?
Actually, the gripe I have is that any "naturalization" process is an artificial one, and one can't leave things in a natural state using an artificial process. One can attempt to use an artificial process to leave something in an approximately natural state, like perhaps reintroducing domestic animals into the wild, and it might be for all practical purposes indistinguishable from the original, natural, state.
It reminds me of the whole "immovable object" nonsense. Also the renaissance philosophers who argued that light can't travel through a vacuum, since a vacuum is defined as having nothing in it, therefore it's no longer a vacuum if there's light traveling through it.
Now that I'm on silly word nonsense, Dad likes to define "temporary" as having no established ending time. And "permanent" as having no established ending time. Which would make them synonyms? Seems to me, Dad needs better definitions, since they definitely seem to have opposite meanings in common use.
OK, now I understand what you are going for.
As for your dad, he is technically correct, but one is short-term and one is long-term. Let's face it, nothing is really permanent, not even the universe.
I think that "temporary" and "permanent" carry implicit expectations of what the "normal" state of affairs is - temporary describes an aberration from normal, which will at some unspecified, but expected time, revert to normal. "Permanent" is the (new) normal state, and changes from this state are unexpected.
When I was in college, I tutored physics and took classes in "temporary" structures that had been built during World War II. The lore was that the building wasn't originally built with light switches, since the scientists and engineers who were the first occupants of the building were working around the clock inventing radar, so the lights never needed to be turned off. Decades later, these temporary structures were still around, and they wanted to tear them down, but were slowed by the vast amounts of asbestos used in their construction.
I guess my point being that "temporary" isn't strictly a characteristic of an object, but more in the caretaker of that object and their plans.
At this particular moment, I find "permanent employee" to be a laughable concept.
|Date:||November 2nd, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)|| |
Actually, the gripe I have is that any "naturalization" process is an artificial one, and one can't leave things in a natural state using an artificial process.
Yeah, this was my take also. If it's natural, you don't need any process to make it natural. If you apply a process to it, the result by definition can't be natural.
Similarly, one cannot really nation-build except in an area such as the bottom of the Pacific or the surface of Mars where there is no nation. If you try to do it anywhere else, you will actually be destroying a nation.
Ah, I get it now. Thanks...