This meta question motivated this. By linguistic traps, I mean those listed at https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/a/12077/5306, such as the Etymological Fallacy.

For me, though it'd be easier not to, I repeat that 'I heed the Etymological Fallacy'. In the past, questions have been closed because the closers might have thought that the poster didn't know about it. On the contrary, I do 'heed' these traps and want to state this outright, to anticipate repliers' concern and to forestall extra (redundant) writing on these traps (for each question).

  • 3
    I didn't need to see the question to know who asked it! I knew it when I saw the title in the list. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Apr 28 '15 at 18:17
  • 5
    You keep saying you heed it, but then you proceed to demonstrate that you ignore it in every single case. This is worse than ignorance, it is willful, flagrant, ignorance. You want a word to make sense based on its history and origins, but words are not so obliged, and I, for one, wish you could simply accept that. Your insistent linking of this one off-hand comment comes across as a desperate clutching at straws. – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 18:20
  • 3
    I don't think you're using 'heed' the way everyone else uses it. It doesn't mean 'be aware of' or 'take into account'. It means 'to follow' or 'listen and act upon'. – Mitch Apr 28 '15 at 18:23
  • 1
    @DanBron What about the advice at english.stackexchange.com/questions/205571/…? My goal is just to follow that advice, but can I follow it without being ignorant of linguistic traps? – NNOX Apps Apr 28 '15 at 18:23
  • 3
    I know you don't want to memorize words, but in reality the best -- possibly only -- way for you to internalize the meanings of words is through repeated exposure (aka practice!). – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 18:23
  • @LawArea51Proposal-Commit: I haven't even read your question yet: it was just funny to recognize your hand in the title alone. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Apr 28 '15 at 18:24
  • @DanBron I'll just respond more slowly then. I write 'I heed ...' because I was trying to be concise, and ODO says: Pay attention to; take notice of. Does this make sense? – NNOX Apps Apr 28 '15 at 18:35
  • 1
    @Law You can probably tell from Mitch's and my previous comments that we do not feel that one comment justifies your use. We feel that you should follow, not just be aware of, the etymological fallacy. In other words: give up the ghost. Words mean what they mean, today, without regard to where they come from. A bough may start out as a shoot, then a twig, then a stick, then a branch, zigging and zagging and twisting and turning the whole way, until its uttermost point is a great distance from where it emerged at the trunk, based on the whims and vicissitudes and accidents of history. – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 18:41
  • @Law, did you see my original comment under your question? The one where I said "Your insistent linking of this one off-hand comment comes across as a desperate clutching at straws"? Does that clarify my position, here? Does it help clarify further when I note that you've linked to that single comment no less than three times in this one discussion already? – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 18:47
  • 2
    @LawArea51Proposal-Commit Dictionaries aren't perfect. That definition of 'heed' may work in some circumstances, but not in this one. The more common usage is 'to follow'. So every time you say "I heed the X fallacy" It sounds really weird and out of place, like you are claiming that you always try to commit the X fallacy (which is the opposite of what you want). – Mitch Apr 28 '15 at 18:49
  • To answer your question, no, it's not necessary to declare awareness of every possible error. But mentioning how you've considered it may help. Re the etymological fallacy, you may want to say you've seen the etymology and wonder if that informs the current meaning (it's only a fallacy if they don't match, and sometimes the history of a word does tell you the current meaning, you've only committed a fallacy when it doesn't match). – Mitch Apr 28 '15 at 18:52
  • 1
    @Mitch No. No, no no no no. NO. The fallacy is believing they should match in the first place. If the word is new enough, or its history straightjacketed enough, such that the meaning and the origin haven't diverged, so well and good. That simply is NOT the case with most words which have been around any meaningful amount of time. In general, we should not expect a word's meaning to reflect its ultimate origins, and the further back we trace it the less it should look like it does today. Believing - or in Law's case, insisting - otherwise, is to commit the Etymological Fallacy. – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 18:56
  • 3
    @LawArea51Proposal-Commit If you do find that advice helpful, good for you. I think what you're getting at is not specific to etymology or idiom, but that you want to show that you've 'done your homework' on your question. And the only advice I can give here is that you should show the homework you've done, rather than just claim "I have done my homework". The latter doesn't help anybody. – Mitch Apr 28 '15 at 19:23
  • 1
    @Law Its status as a comment effects its weight. It's one man's opinion, shared in an explicitly ephemeral context, at low cost to the commenter (the comment was 44 words; at 70 wpm, that cost Ben about 45 seconds to type). By contrast, you have the weight of this Wikipedia article, with scores of contributors, as well as hundreds of other pages on the internet taking a stance contrary to that one, single, ephemeral, comment. In other words, you may find the comment "the Earth is flat" helpful, but you also may wish to consider other opinions. – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 19:26
  • 6
    @Law The very existence of this question, here, on Meta, is evidence that that one comment is not helping you! It is misleading you! It is leading you down the primrose path to perdition. Your belief that etymology should help you (supported by a single comment, the only comment anyone has ever made in support of that myth) is prohibiting you seeing etymology is not helping you. In other words: you are trapped in the very fallacy you profess to "heed"! I am offering, have offered, and will continue to offer you a ladder out of that abyss: each rung is an instance of practice! – Dan Bron Apr 28 '15 at 20:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .