Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Exact Definitions Of Words


Exact definitions of words is extremely important for accurate reporting.

I have believed that for a long time, even in the face of those who laugh at the statement and tell me that English is a 'living langauage' and should change with the times.

I still maintain that a word should have an exact definition and that the definition should be learned and then observed by all (every one) of its users.

For example:

The police stormed in with helmets, face shields, and automatic rifles and decimated 30% of the 90 demonstrators.

The meaning of the above sentence will depend upon the individual reader's definition of the word 'decimated.'

Originally' decimate' meant "to kill one in every ten of (a group of soldiers or others) as a punishment for the whole group." But over time, misuse of the word by the uneducated masses has reduced the meaning to "kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of."

From Wikipedia: Decimation (Latin: decimatio; decem = "ten") was a form of military discipline used by senior commanders in the Roman Army to punish units or large groups guilty of capital offences such as mutiny or desertion. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth". The procedure was a pragmatic attempt to balance the need to punish serious offences with the practicalities of dealing with a large group of offenders.

The word decimation is currently (counter to historical use) used to refer to an extreme reduction in the number of a population or force, much greater than the one tenth defined by the "deci" (as in "decimal") root. It is frequently used as a synonym for the word "annihilation" (the OED lists "annihilation" as meaning "to reduce to non-existence, blot out of existence", or for "devastation"...

30% of 90 demonstrators is 30 demonstrators.

So, in the original statement, it could be construed that most of the 30 demonstrators were killed, or it could mean that only 3 of the demonstrators (10% of 30) were killed.

Exact definitions of words is extremely important for accurate reporting.

Note: If my math is faulty let me know.


Did You Know . . .?

A raisin dropped in a fresh glass of soda will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top.


On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered what became one of the most famous speeches in American history, at the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Using just 272 words, Lincoln articulated the meaning of the Civil War for a public that had grown weary of the conflict.

Today, the words of the Gettysburg Address are carved into a wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.


a reference book that consists of an alphabetical list of words with their meanings and parts of speech, and often a guide to accepted pronunciation and syllabification, irregular inflections of words, derived words of different parts of speech, and etymologies.



Jodie Foster
(born November 19, 1962)
Jodie Foster is an American actress, film director, and producer. Foster began acting in commercials at the age of three, and rose to prominence at the age of 13 in the 1976 film Taxi Driver as the preteen prostitute Iris, for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1989, for playing a rape victim in The Accused. In 1991, she starred in The Silence of the Lambs, receiving international acclaim and her second Academy Award for Best Actress. She received her fourth Academy Award nomination for playing a hermit in Nell (1994).

Foster's other best-known work includes Contact (1997), The Brave One (2007), and Carnage (2011). She made her directorial debut in 1991 with Little Man Tate; she also directed the films Home for the Holidays (1995) and The Beaver (2011).

Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III
(born November 19, 1938)
Ted Turner is an American media mogul and philanthropist. As a businessman, he is known as founder of the cable news network CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel. In addition, he founded WTBS, which pioneered the superstation concept in cable television. As a philanthropist, he is known for his $1 billion gift to support the United Nations, which created the United Nations Foundation, a public charity to broaden support for the UN.

Meg Ryan
(born November 19, 1961),
Meg Ryan is an American actress and producer. After playing several minor roles in film and television, Ryan became a star in 1989, when she appeared in When Harry Met Sally.... Over the next 15 years, she played leading roles in several romantic-comedy films, including Sleepless in Seattle (1993), French Kiss (1995), Addicted to Love (1997), City of Angels (1998), You've Got Mail (1998), and Kate & Leopold (2001), films which together grossed a total of more than $870 million worldwide.

Allison Brooks Janney
(born November 19, 1959)
Allison Janney is an American actress. She played White House Press Secretary (later Chief of Staff) C.J. Cregg on the television series The West Wing (1999–2006). Her films include Big Night (1996), Primary Colors (1998), Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), American Beauty (1999), The Hours (2003), Finding Nemo (2003), Hairspray (2007), Juno (2007), The Help (2011) and The Way Way Back (2013).


How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
--Abraham Lincoln


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