Welcome to the Achaea Forums! Please be sure to read the Forum Rules.

Wordsmiths unite! I need assistance.

BereneneBerenene Member Posts: 1,892 @@ - Legendary Achaean
I'm trying to find the word that describes words that describe items that are an absence of something.  For example, there isn't really any such thing as cold, it is a concept we use to describe the lack of heat. So is there a word to describe the kind of word that "cold" and those other like words are?
Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my hounds!
Krenim: Hounds? How cliche.
Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my rape gorilla!
Krenim: ...We'll show ourselves out.

Comments

  • AcknuAcknu Member Posts: 23
    Privative? Not sure.
    Trevize
  • TrevizeTrevize Member Posts: 1,517 @ - Epic Achaean
    edited September 2015
    Privative is as close as you'll get. It means a 'a condition of the lack of', not 'a word that means a lack of' - but to the best of my knowledge there is none that does. Privative is usually used to indicate prefixes/suffixes, such as a- and un- and so on, though you have to be careful defining it so broadly, as those prefixes/suffixes don't always indicate negation. I can't say I've ever heard it in normal language aside from a descriptor for those.
    Current scripts: GoldTracker 1.2, mData 1.1
    Site: https://github.com/trevize-achaea/scripts/releases
    Thread: http://forums.achaea.com/discussion/4064/trevizes-scripts
    Latest update: 9/26/2015 better character name handling in GoldTracker, separation of script and settings, addition of gold report and gold distribute aliases.
  • SiodhachanSiodhachan Washington, USAMember Posts: 20 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    edited September 2015
    To be considered a privative, a prefix or suffix has to negate the stem of the original word, though there are a few independently privative exceptions to this rule. Cold and hot do not share stems, and neither is cold the exact inverse of hot.

    If you really look at it, 'cold' means "having a low temperature". The definition of 'cold' as "a lack of warmth" is only valid when describing a person's emotional state. She is not affectionate; she's cold. 

    I'm sorry I don't have anything better to offer. If I come up with something, I'll post it!



    The earth is so good to me;
    So giving and so kind.
    Ula
  • TrevizeTrevize Member Posts: 1,517 @ - Epic Achaean
    To be considered a privative, a prefix or suffix has to negate the stem of the original word, though there are a few independently privative exceptions to this rule. Cold and hot do not share stems, and neither is cold the exact inverse of hot.

    If you really look at it, 'cold' means "having a low temperature". The definition of 'cold' as "a lack of warmth" is only valid when describing a person's emotional state. She is not affectionate; she's cold. 

    I can not think of a better term for what you have described but I will continue pondering. I feel like there has to be something closer to the mark.
    That's the root of the problem. These words, by definitely, describe concepts. Not absences. The concept of dark being a lack of light specifically, and cold being a lack of heat, aside from the obvious sense of antonyms and more the pure scientific sense, is a relatively recent way of thinking.
    Current scripts: GoldTracker 1.2, mData 1.1
    Site: https://github.com/trevize-achaea/scripts/releases
    Thread: http://forums.achaea.com/discussion/4064/trevizes-scripts
    Latest update: 9/26/2015 better character name handling in GoldTracker, separation of script and settings, addition of gold report and gold distribute aliases.
    SiodhachanAlyana
  • SenaSena Member Posts: 3,957 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    If you really look at it, 'cold' means "having a low temperature". The definition of 'cold' as "a lack of warmth" is only valid when describing a person's emotional state.
    It's equally valid either way. "Temperature" is effectively a measure of how much heat* something has. Heat is something that physically exists, while "cold" only exists (physically) as a lack of heat.

    *In layman's terms. I know this isn't how "heat" is used in a technical sense.
    AradorChryenth
  • MishgulMishgul ROTHERHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMember Posts: 5,378 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Isn't cold relative in that sense?

    -

    One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important

    As drawn by Shayde
    hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae
  • SeftinSeftin Member Posts: 923 @ - Epic Achaean
    nerds...
    Exelethril
  • KadenKaden Member Posts: 462 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    This discussion is all well and good but you do have to ask: what do you need a word for? All this technical talk is all well and good until he tries to use it in a poem and gets stabbed by his significant other for being verbose.
  • AradorArador Member Posts: 1,696 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Cold is the absence of Heat, Darkness is the absence of Light, No is the absence of @Carmain.

    Shirszae
  • ExelethrilExelethril Member Posts: 3,360 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Kappa /k'p/

    [ SnB PvP Guide | Link ]

    [ Runewarden Sparring Videos | Link ]
  • BereneneBerenene Member Posts: 1,892 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Kaden said:
    This discussion is all well and good but you do have to ask: what do you need a word for? All this technical talk is all well and good until he tries to use it in a poem and gets stabbed by his significant other for being verbose.
    It's definitely not for poetry.  A work colleague said he remembered that there was such a word, but couldn't remember what it was.  When I originally started looking, I too thought it might have been privative, but he said it wasn't that.
    Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my hounds!
    Krenim: Hounds? How cliche.
    Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my rape gorilla!
    Krenim: ...We'll show ourselves out.
  • SiodhachanSiodhachan Washington, USAMember Posts: 20 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    @Berenene: I know there is such a word.

    @Sena: It's not. The reason hot and cold are not inverses is because they are both only significant -- as Mishgul pointed out -- in relation to something else. My hands are cold, compared to normal body temperature, but hot compared to a block of ice, and very very very cold in relation to the sun. For something to be a privative, it has to be directly opposite of the root etymology of the word, which hot and cold are not. If my tea is exactly 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit and my body is exactly 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit, then they are both cold in relation to the oil inside my car that I have been driving for 4 hours. Heat is present, but the term cold is relative. 
    The earth is so good to me;
    So giving and so kind.
    Ula
  • DortheronDortheron Member Posts: 343 ✭✭✭✭ - Eminent
    Arador said:
    No is the absence of @Carmain.
    Correction: Yes is the absence of @Lorielan
    You know, that one thing at that one place, with that one person.

    Yea, that one!
  • AradorArador Member Posts: 1,696 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    @Lorielan is the absence of @Carmain 

    :open_mouth: 

  • SenaSena Member Posts: 3,957 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    @Siodhachan: I was only responding to the line I quoted, not saying that cold is therefore privative somehow.
    Siodhachan
  • SiodhachanSiodhachan Washington, USAMember Posts: 20 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    If comparing something -2000 degrees to something -800 degrees, is the difference then measured as less of an absence of heat? I feel like that definition falls flat on its face in an example like that.
    The earth is so good to me;
    So giving and so kind.
  • AradorArador Member Posts: 1,696 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Please tell me you do not mean minus 800 and minus 2000 degrees because that makes me cringe. 

  • AradorArador Member Posts: 1,696 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Also, you are only arguing for cold as an adjective, and yes in that case it is often used as a relative term, but cold as a noun is pretty much defined as the absence or lack of heat.

    Words get used is different ways, one use does not invalidate another.

    JukilianShirszae
  • SenaSena Member Posts: 3,957 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    edited September 2015
    If comparing something -2000 degrees to something -800 degrees, is the difference then measured as less of an absence of heat? I feel like that definition falls flat on its face in an example like that.
    I don't see any problem with that (except that -800 isn't possible in any temperature scale I know of). Less cold = less of an absence of heat = more heat. More cold = more of an absence of heat = less heat. Something can be defined as a lack of something else and still be relative.
  • SiodhachanSiodhachan Washington, USAMember Posts: 20 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    edited September 2015
    @Sena: I entered random numbers but let's say minus 415 degrees and minus 370 degrees (Fahrenheit) to make the comparison scientifically sound.

    By your reasoning, minus 370 degrees can be described as hotter even though a temperature that low is entirely devoid of heat. That something cold enough to freeze a human being instantaneously upon contact could be described in terms of a word that implies the absence of cold seems like a lexical fallacy to me.

    @Arador: No - I'm arguing that the definition of the noun cold is "a low temperature" precisely because the absence or presence of heat is only valid in relative terms. A word can not (should not?) have its root definition be dependent upon an external relationship.

    The definition of the noun cold as "the absence of heat" suggests that anywhere where cold exists, there is no measurable heat, which is untrue.
    The earth is so good to me;
    So giving and so kind.
    UlaBerenene
  • SenaSena Member Posts: 3,957 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    edited September 2015
    @Sena: I entered random numbers but let's say minus 415 degrees and minus 370 degrees (Fahrenheit) to make the comparison scientifically sound.

    By your reasoning, minus 370 degrees can be described as hotter even though a temperature that low is entirely devoid of heat. That something cold enough to freeze a human being instantaneously upon contact could be described in terms of a word that implies the absence of cold seems like a lexical fallacy to me.
    -370 degrees is definitely hotter than -415 degrees by pretty much any possible definition of "hotter", and that would have been just as true 300 years ago, before there was any concept of thermal energy or cold being the absence of heat. The only reason you wouldn't say "-370 degrees is hot" is because without specifying a reference point ("hotter than X"), it would generally be assumed to refer to the range of temperatures that people commonly experience, mostly using atmospheric temperature (in which case "hot" without a reference can generally be assumed to mean "hotter than usual" or "hotter than would be expected here") and/or body temperature (in which case "hot" can be assumed to mean "higher than body temperature" while "cold" is "lower than body temperature") as a reference.
    Arador: No - I'm arguing that the definition of the noun cold is "a low temperature" precisely because the absence or presence of heat is only valid in relative terms. A word can not (should not?) have its root definition be dependent upon an external relationship.
    "Hot" and "cold" are inherently relative terms. They have absolutely no meaning without a point of comparison (which doesn't mean the comparison has to be given explicitly; there are common assumed comparisons, as I mentioned above).

    Your definition ("a low temperature") is also effectively identical to mine, because "low" is relative, and "temperature" is a measure of heat. Defining "cold" (as an adjective) as "having a low temperature (compared to some reference point)" is the same as defining it as "having less heat than some reference point".
    The definition of the noun cold as "the absence of heat" suggests that anywhere where cold exists, there is no measurable heat, which is untrue.
    Only if you define it as "the complete absence of heat", making it absolute instead of relative. There's no problem if it's a relative absence; having less heat than something else.

    @Berenene I assure you that all of this is on-topic and will somehow lead to an answer to your question, maybe.
    JacenAdetBereneneShirszae
  • BereneneBerenene Member Posts: 1,892 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    @Sena this is actually really awesome. This whole discussion has taken a turn for the fascinating that I never thought it would.
    Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my hounds!
    Krenim: Hounds? How cliche.
    Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my rape gorilla!
    Krenim: ...We'll show ourselves out.
    Siodhachan
  • BlujixapugBlujixapug Member Posts: 1,833 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    'Abessive' and 'caritive' are apparently used in linguistics in a similar, possibly the same (idk), context as privative, to indicate the absence of the base noun. eg. hopeless, painless, witless. They don't really seem to translate over to general use as adjectives in their own right though. Best I could find after 20 minutes of poking around in google, onelook.com, and the phrontistery.

    There was also this article asking the exact same question as you, which maybe you've already seen, which also turned up the answer 'privative'.
    image
    Berenene
  • TahquilTahquil Member Posts: 4,433 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    So in this case, the word silence fits but not quiet, right?
  • BereneneBerenene Member Posts: 1,892 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Silence is another word in the same group, yes.
    Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my hounds!
    Krenim: Hounds? How cliche.
    Janeway: Tuvok! *clapclap* Release my rape gorilla!
    Krenim: ...We'll show ourselves out.
  • AradorArador Member Posts: 1,696 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    Cold has an absolute limit and that is kind of my point. While it can be used relative to a frame of reference it can hit an absolute limit where there is no heat at all. 

    Same applies to Darkness. You can walk into a gloomy room and describe it as dark, because relative to outside, it is dark in there even if there is a bit of light coming in through the curtains. But you can only go so Dark before you hit the lower limit. A complete absence of any light.

    But Darkness itself is the absence of light, it does not exist. Just like Cold does not technically exist.

    Light and Heat exist in the physical universe. They are energy and particles that can be observed. Cold and Dark does not physically exist. We also use those words to describe relative concepts and in those cases, sure, they do not denote the complete absence of something.

  • AlyanaAlyana Member Posts: 44 ✭✭✭ - Distinguished
    Arador said:
     We also use those words to describe relative concepts and in those cases, sure, they do not denote the complete absence of something.
    We don't "also" use the words as relative concepts, we essentially exclusively use them that way. Outside of very, very specific technical contexts, "cold" doesn't mean "the total absence of heat" regardless of if it's used as a noun or a verb. It's always used relative to certain temperature norms.

    It seems rather silly to insist that a word's definition correspond to the scientific properties of what they describe, really. Doing so doesn't match the etymology at all, since the scientific definitions are incredibly modern. While there's certainly a correct way to understand these concepts in science, to insist that the same norms be applied to language seems to unnecessarily foreclose meaning.
  • AradorArador Member Posts: 1,696 @@ - Legendary Achaean
    I never made an argument about which cases are used more often. I am fully aware that the adjective is used more in common conversation and that use is older than the technical understanding and adoption of the word. I am saying that they are valid in this context as well.

Sign In to Comment.