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Article seemed to relate "Americanism" as something being adapted to the British language from America. I think the article needs a more specific definition and explanation.
I expected to find examples of uniquely American terms similar to the entry for Britishisms. Instead there's only one example, and a needlessly inflammatory one at that. Comparing the difference of the term liberal in it's American and British usages would have been useful.
- I think a list without context and explanation is not a proper encyclopedia entry. It is true that more examples could have been included but, again, once one selects a word and demonstrates that it differs in its denotative and/or connotative meaning from, say, that expected in Australia, where does one draw the line? As to the example actually selected, it would be a quite clear breach of NPOV only to compare American and British meanings. The requirement is to give non-specific explanations wherever possible. And,with respect, merely asserting that the entry is "inflammatory" without explaining why it would be considered offensive by the reasonable man is not a constructive criticism. If you convince me, I would be delighted to redraft the element or replace it with an analysis of another "Americanism". --David91 11:03, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Why use such idiosyncratic formatting when just a <hr> will do? Dysprosia 07:22, 21 Mar 2004 (UTC)
- Fine, removed at popular request :-P --Cantus 07:24, 21 Mar 2004 (UTC)
- I don't know what policy violation you speak of. I had reverted once, undoing your revert, just like you; but I gave reasons for my changes, and I did not see you explain your revert of them. I think having Americanism link to the anti-Americanism article is a good idea, but the link means we do not have to repeat that material. The characterization of Americanism the way you did (as derogatory of other cultures) was rather negative and unnecessarily so; connecting it to the idea of "superiority" mythos can be represented as an idea some espouse, but one should be careful to qualify such statements, as I did. Also, such speculation and inference does not need to be in the intro paragraph, which serves as a definition. -- VV 07:40, 21 Mar 2004 (UTC)
- The new policy I speak of is a "3 revert rule", a guideline which may soon allow for sanctions for violators (like you and I) via consensus quickpolls. The idea was catalyzed and germinated by Eloquence, and appears to have support, in the hopes that people will defer to discussion rather than revert/comment. So, your giving 'reasons for reverting' does nothing to show your openness to discussion or consensus, and in light of the proposed new guideline, I took a step back and chose to initiate conversation. As for reducing material to merely links, this has never been a good idea, and its contradicted by a rather large body of (mostly disconnected) policy in favor of inclusion, rather than exclusion. Providing a link out of context does little to improve the article. Removing context in favor of floating links, can be borderline vandalism, if the person in question refuses to agree to discussion. Finally, your claim basically characterized my edits as espousing a POV, though you do nothing to argue the actual points, nor the actual substance of my edit, which was to reclassify the term as a political one. In anycase, I know youre not entirely without reason or faculties, and I will appreciate any FB you have on the current text, and the possible merger with anti-Americanism. Rsfy,SV(talk) 08:08, 21 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I have completely rewritten this page. It seemed to me that it lacked neutrality, judging propriety by reference to some supposed gold standard in the British version of English whereas that is completely irrelevant to the nature of the topic. This is about linguistics and semiotics and, in my view, the entry should maintain neutrality by approaching the issue conceptually rather than by spraying examples around with no context. Naturally, anyone and everyone is free to disagree for cause. David91 19:05, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
Adding a different example
Since two people have complained that my first example was unacceptable (the nuances of local politics are rarely understood by outsiders), I have changed the example to one which I hope will inspire less anger. It is, however, a curious reflection on a culture when it seems resentful of academic commentary. --David91 07:34, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
- That last comment is disingenuous and fallacious. Academic commentary is ubiquitous and unremarkable here; political commentary in the guise of an encyclopedia article is not (in theory) acceptable on Wikipedia, thus the objections. --Kevin Myers 13:37, Jun 20, 2005 (UTC)
My comment simply reflects the fact that the reaction to the page which was intended as a contribution under the headings of semiotics and linguistics, was to delete the entire page. If the objection had truly been limited to bias in the example (which I selected simply on the ground that it was of contemporary interest), then you would not have deleted the academic basis for the analysis. But let us not fall out over this. I hope you feel that I have responded contructively. If I have not met your objections, please identify residual issues and I will seek to draft a further compromise version that we can both accept. --David91 16:19, 20 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Functionalism and Semiotics
Why is most of the article taken up by a turgid and POV disucssion of functionalism and semiotics? Asserting for example that functionalism is more "cognitively plausible" than alternatives, and recognizing that "...one can only understand language through the contact events as its participants live them." (eh?) None of this has any direct relevance to the topic of the article. I will remove this stuff unless someone wants to edit it or defend its inclusion. Cadr 14:35, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
In order to defend the stuff, I would appreciate some more constructive critique than the fact that you find it "turgid". I believe that I have fairly set out the standard material on an Americanism in the sense of a usage as understood in semiotics and linguistics which is the heading reference from the disambiguation page. I would agree with you if the page had been designated as having some other theme which might then expect a long list of words recognised as typically American. But there are already other pages that meet that requirement. So, in the spirit of friendly co-operation, could you please explain your displeasure to see whether we can produce a version of the text that you find less offensive. -David91 17:43, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
- What is this nonsense? — Chameleon 19:06, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Well, that is a wonderfully ambiguous rejoinder. Since I have no interest in arguing with anyone, I will simply resign from this page and let the world do what it likes with the material. If you feel that a non-academic explanation is required for this topic, feel free to write one. --David91 19:13, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)
- "if you feel that a non-academic explanation is required..." Let me add my opinion that in nearly all cases in Wikipedia, a non-academic explanation is required to be included. There's nothing wrong with including academic perspectives too, but it dominates this article. I think people may look up Americanism to find out: What are some common Americanisms? More examples needed. Are they similar to Britishisms? Do they only appear in conversation or are they used in writing too? Does the term encompass differences in spelling, or in phrases like cliches and metaphors, or also in regular parts of speech such as nouns and verbs?
- I'm sorry, I'm sure it's hard for an author to hear, but this article is probably way over the head (Americanism?) of 99 percent of the people who will be reading Wikipedia, and if so, what's the point? I'd really like to see the academic discussion moved lower and a more 10th-grade-level discussion first. The term is one that any student might hear from a teacher -- "Don't use that in your paper dear, it's an Americanism." Students and adults should be able to learn more about the how, what, why, and so on, without necessarily wading straight into the deep end of linguistics and semiotics.
- That said, David91, please don't leave and not come back. You have put in a lot of work here, and are needed for perspective and expertise. I would like to contribute, but how would I know which are actually Americanisms since I'm a native American English speaker? Would like to have your input and feedback if you can see your way to participating in making this a somewhat-less academic and high-level article. For example, is my use of "since" to mean "because" and Americanism, or just careless (that comes up on the Frequently misused words page I know)? If you are interested, contact me on my talk page please. One of my professional skills is translating complex topics for general audiences. DavidH 02:09, July 19, 2005 (UTC)
David91 accused me of giving no more specific criticism than that his prose was turgid. This is obviously untrue: my comment mentioned a couple specific phrases/sentences which I found particularly contentious, and argued that the material was largely irrelevant to the subject of the article. Anyway, here's a detailed critique.
. The methodology used is functionalist and based in the field of Semiotics, i.e. it looks at all the signs that are combined to make up the message, and links linguistic facts to non-linguistic facts to give a broader empirical coverage.
This is the methodology used by functionalists and semioticians. It isn't necessary to use this methodology in order to study some particular aspect of Americanisms. So this is POV.
It recognises that one can only understand language in its social context, analysing the way in which people interact.
Too vague. What does it mean to "understand language"? What is the social context of language? And is there a difference in meaning between "the social context of language" and "every conceivably relevant fact about language"?. If, as I suspect, there isn't, the statement becomes a truism. If there is in fact a difference, it needs to be explicated.
The problem with pure linguistics is that it dismantles language into its component sounds, analysing usage in slow-time.
Both meaningless ("slow-time"?!) and POV. One wonders how it is possible to understand how language works if one doesn't recognize at least some separation between (say) phonology and pragmatics.
Hence, what constitutes a usage (American or otherwise) can best be explored by using a combination of linguistics and semiotics in a functionalist framework.
POV. Perhaps it can be best explored through some other framework.
It's not clear what the "elephant in the room" example is supposed to do. It may be an Americanism, but this is only mentioned briefly amidst a stream of other information. The explanation of the metaphor doesn't seem to benefit at all from the functionalist/semiotic framework. Why do we have to start with the commution test first before we explain the metaphor, which is perfectly well understood intuitively? In fact, the commution test is only effective once we already understand the metaphor and know which substitutions will highlight the essential components of its meaning. One could conceive of other perfectly plausible meanings for the metaphor (e.g. that the room is full, or that someone very large is in the room) which could confirmed by the use of a different (but on the face of it equally valid) set of substitutions. The commution test is thus quite useless as a means of determining the meaning of a metaphor, and of limited use in the explication of an already-known meaning. And what are we to make of the following?
the packaging of a certain piece of media content to predispose the audience to make the desired interpretation and to exclude others.
It's obvious enough that people say things in different ways depending on how they want them to be understood, but how does stating this in over-complex language give us any additional knowledge about Americanisms? Or indeed about anything?
Fundamentally, there is nothing to say about Americanisms other than that a) they exist b) they are sometimes objected to by prescriptivists in other locales, c) here is a list of some, and d) here are some demographic and historical facts about them. Cadr 18:00, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
Thank you for your comments
It just goes to show that I should have left well enough alone. This was intended as one of my last bits of writing before disappearing. Ah, well, such is what is left of life.
- The methodology used is functionalist and based in the field of Semiotics, i.e. it looks at all the signs that are combined to make up the message, and links linguistic facts to non-linguistic facts to give a broader empirical coverage.
- This is the methodology used by functionalists and semioticians. It isn't necessary to use this methodology in order to study some particular aspect of Americanisms. So this is POV.
This page is characterised as being one of linguistics. It is therefore written from the POV of someone with knowledge of semiotics, commenting on the phenomenon of one group of English users exporting their usages to other groups. In this, Americanisms are but one of thousands of possible examples. Any specialist will use his or her academic expertise to comment on a topic and it is certainly necessary to apply the relevant methods to Amercianisms as to any other exemplars, to remain true to the academic discipline.
- It recognises that one can only understand language in its social context, analysing the way in which people interact.
- Too vague. What does it mean to "understand language"? What is the social context of language? And is there a difference in meaning between "the social context of language" and "every conceivably relevant fact about language"?. If, as I suspect, there isn't, the statement becomes a truism. If there is in fact a difference, it needs to be explicated.
I have very carefullly linked to all the pages on code, encoding, decoding, connotation, denotation, values, etc where all the detail is carefully explained. The previous complaint was that my writing was too obscure. Now it seems I have oversimplified into vagueness.
- The problem with pure linguistics is that it dismantles language into its component sounds, analysing usage in slow-time.
- Both meaningless ("slow-time"?!) and POV. One wonders how it is possible to understand how language works if one doesn't recognize at least some separation between (say) phonology and pragmatics.
If one is breaking language down into its phonemes, this is analysis in "slow time" and that is what the phonology wing of linguistics does. I happen to believe that a contextualised approach is a better framework for considering this particular topic and fail to see why making a sound academic point is either meaningless or POV.
- Hence, what constitutes a usage (American or otherwise) can best be explored by using a combination of linguistics and semiotics in a functionalist framework.
- POV. Perhaps it can be best explored through some other framework.
This is an entirely possible POV, but whether it is relevant to a page characterised as being on linguistics is more contentious. I am sure that we could both think of other ways of addressing this topic and there are other pages in Wiki that offer alternative views. The issue you should address is whether, as a page on linguistics that I have shaded into semiotics, this page provides a reasonably accessible explanation.
- It's not clear what the "elephant in the room" example is supposed to do. It may be an Americanism, but this is only mentioned briefly amidst a stream of other information. The explanation of the metaphor doesn't seem to benefit at all from the functionalist/semiotic framework. Why do we have to start with the commution test first before we explain the metaphor, which is perfectly well understood intuitively? In fact, the commution test is only effective once we already understand the metaphor and know which substitutions will highlight the essential components of its meaning. One could conceive of other perfectly plausible meanings for the metaphor (e.g. that the room is full, or that someone very large is in the room) which could confirmed by the use of a different (but on the face of it equally valid) set of substitutions. The commution test is thus quite useless as a means of determining the meaning of a metaphor, and of limited use in the explication of an already-known meaning.
I thought it was useful to demonstrate one of the standard semiotic tools. It is used to support the analysis of any text, regardless of whether it happens to be a metaphor. I am not clear why you think it inappropriate to reveal a text's values in this way. If I had wanted to produce an analysis of the idiom as a metaphor, I would have used narratological or rhetorical tools.
- And what are we to make of the following?
- the packaging of a certain piece of media content to predispose the audience to make the desired interpretation and to exclude others.
- It's obvious enough that people say things in different ways depending on how they want them to be understood, but how does stating this in over-complex language give us any additional knowledge about Americanisms? Or indeed about anything?
Framing is a standard term in communication theory that is most helpful in helping to define the values underlying a piece of text. All I detect in your complaint is a prejudice against my academic language.
- Fundamentally, there is nothing to say about Americanisms other than that a) they exist b) they are sometimes objected to by prescriptivists in other locales, c) here is a list of some, and d) here are some demographic and historical facts about them.
Well, we must agree to disagree. The phenomenon is fascinating and the reaction of different cultures in trying to decode invading usages represents a major area of research both theoretical and applied (the latter being particularly relevant for globalised advertising and marketing where millions of currency units may be wasted if a product or service is offered for sale in language containing inappropriate or misunderstood usages). I sincerely regret the fact that I seem to have inspired such hostility in you although I respect the fact that you decided against simply deleting my attempted simplication of content. If this indicates a willingness to negotiate, I have a few days left and, health permitting, I will devote what time I have to it. -David91 20:38, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
- I'm sorry for the rather nasty tone of the discussion, which is my fault. Especially since you seem rather depressed (I do sympathise, but it's hard to express sympathy over the net). There's no point in saddling the rest of what I have to say in flowery language, but I hope you don't take it personally.
- I won't follow the quote/respone pattern (if we both keep replying to each other's every sentence this will obviously get silly very quickly).
- The fact that this is a linguistics article doesn't require it to be based around a semiotic analysis. Semiotics is not universally well-regarded within linguistics (or indeed outside of it). To present it as the only, or the definitive means of analysis in this case is an error. If we are going to include anything about semiotics in this article, it should at least be expressed in neutral language. It is not OK to present the semiotic analysis as fact either on the mistaken assumption that it is the only analysis available within the field of linguistics, or simply because you think it's useful. If it's a POV it has to be expressed in neutral language, no exceptions.
- To be clear, I won't complain if there is a long section on semiotics within the article, but I'd like it to be presented simply as one of several ways of looking at Americanisms.
- You say you have linked to various pages where terminology is explained. However, you have neither linked to an explanation of "social context of language", nor responded to my request for an explanation of what it is. Context is often invoked, but it is never defined and its role in analysis is never explained. I won't pretend I have read the semiotics literature (as you can tell I've been rather indoctrinated against it). And unfortunatley us bolshy undergrads are all to ready to snear at things we know nothing about. I'm perfectly prepared to believe that coherent answers to this question can be given, but it would be nice to hear them. I think I probably know slightly more about semiotics than the average Wikipedia reader, so I don't think I'm being unreasonable here. Nor do I think your irritation at having to explain everything is unreasonable.
- "All I detect in your complaint is a prejudice against my academic language." Perhaps. I'll drop the complaint about the language, although bare in mind that you're not writing for a journal here.
- So, I'll stop moaning about having semiotics in the article, and settle for a slight change of tone, along the lines of "this is how some people would go about analysing Americanisms" rather than "here's a great way of analysing Americanisms". Again, sorry for my hostile comments, which were very insensitive. Cadr 00:43, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Life is too short to worry about tone. The ambulance is coming to take me to hospital on Monday morning so we have a few hours left to collaborate. I note your apparent lack of academic plurality: " Semiotics is not universally well-regarded within linguistics (or indeed outside of it)." Semiotics was a response to classical linguistics and grew out of frustration at the self-imposed limits placed on the discipline. I acknowledge that there is now a field expressly termed "Contextual Linguistics" where there is intended to be some interaction with more broadly based disciplines but, to those who are interested in Semiotics, this is too little, too late. There has been more than eighty years of study in Semiotics and, if you had looked at the first two pages that I linked on connotation and code, for example, you would have found an explanation of how the different levels of meaning achievable within the coding systems enable language to operate in its social context. As to a detailed explanation of context, I thought links to concepts like the Umwelt would be too technical for this page but, in humans, semioticians treat language as behaviour. To survive, people rely on both verbal and nonverbal systems to communicate their needs, purposes and more abstract ideas. Context is everything: the words themselves, the accent or dialect in which they are spoken, where they are spoken, to whom they are spoken, the clothes worn and all the other indicators of class and status, the facial expressions, the body language, etc, etc. If all that you have is the text: the words themselves at a technical level of symantics and syntactics, and as a vehicle for expressing values, viz Weltanschauung; the font and quality of paper/medium, the codes implicit in the design, i.e. these choices add connotation to the words by distinguishing additional shades of meaning from the context of a quality newspaper editorial to a blog, from a high-price hardback book to an advertisement in a magazine. As to the commutation test, this is one of many subjective tools for the analysis of text but, even using this simple approach, I had to be careful not to give offence. I am aware that analysis that throws up political implication is unacceptable in Wiki so going on to consider the significance of the elephant as a political symbol in America. . . You see the problem. Had I begun using deconstruction. . . nuclear option because I would be considering specifically why Americans are seeking to export particular connotations for particular words to the rest of the world, the phenomenon of cultural imperialism, etc! So, formal proposals: when I came to this page and found it designated "linguistics", I did consider adding Semiotics to the header. I now think it desirable. I returned to the page intending to simplify it before leaving. Let us come up with more accessible language that, hopefully, preserves the meaning. So, lighten up, bolshy dude, and let's blow off some authorial steam. Whatever! -David91 05:24, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
- I'll first make clear my objections then try to make some contructive proposals. It's great fun arguing with you, I hope you're finding it more enjoyable than frustrating ;)
- What I find objectionable about the appeal to a study of language in its social context is that it belittles the work of linguists who ignore social context, and yet do extremely important work in areas which semiotics has contributed nothing to. For example, quantifier scope ambiguity, or scrambling in Japanese. I'm aware of the basic history off Semiotics (which to my knowledge more or less began with Saussure), but sometimes culture and social context are irrelevant and very properly ignored. An obvious case in point being the study of phonology, where the structure of phonological rules is clearly does not reflect any aspect of the structure of society. Obviously, cultures are often associated with their own dialects, but if you're analysing the phonology of BEV, it doesn't help at all to know that the people who speak it are predominantly black, socially disadvantaged, or whatever. The fact that British people are quite likely to eat apples and Japanese people are quite likely to eat seaweed doesn't tell you anything about the biology of apples or seaweed. Ditto for the languages they speak.
- I can't accept that language is a behaviour or pattern of behaviours for the standard reasons (i.e. Chomsky, etc.) It can only be true if one has such a loose sense of "behaviour" in mind that the statement is a truism. Is it possible to study the link between language and behaviour? I think it's too hard.
- None of this is to deny that the meaning of an utterance is very dependent on the context in which it is uttered. However, I disagree with an approach to meaning which treats social context and social structures as just additional codes on top of the linguistic code. To put it crudely, a sentence has truth conditions but a t-shirt doesn't. Again, under a broad enough definition of meaning everything has meaning, but I think there has to be a very sharp distinction between the sense in which "I like biscuits" means something and the sense in which a person's dress or demenour mean something (though I think one could make a good case for body language having meaning in a fairly strict sense). I'm sure semioticians distinguish between such cases, but I personally think that they'r fundamentally different. (This paragraph is partly a rehash of some criticisms of semiotics made by the pragmaticists (as in people who study pragmatics) Sperber & Wilson.)
- Constructive suggestion time. I don't really feel qualified to edit your sections because I don't understand them. (Of course, I'm taking the position that I don't understand them because semiotics is fundamentally mistaken in some respects, but I'm sure you will think differently). I'll just ask you, if time permits, to try and express your analysis as an opinion about how Americanisms ought to be analysed. I think if you concede to this you can be allowed a lot more in the way of academic language, since it will be clear that you're just expressing one (quite significant) POV. Just say that "within semiotics, such and such an analysis of so-and-so might be proposed, where ..."
- Good luck. Cadr 18:23, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
I see no patronising attitude between Semiotics and Linguistics and I recognise work of outstanding quality at a mechanical level which does genuinely enrich understanding. However, I disagree in your conclusion that "if you're analysing the phonology of BEV, it doesn't help at all to know that the people who speak it are predominantly black, socially disadvantaged, or whatever." The whole point of inductive reasoning is the ability to move from the particular to the general. If a phonologist observes common features among geographically dispersed but homogenous language/speech communities of racially and/or social disadvantaged individuals, this might lead to interesting conclusions as to the extent to which similar semiotic niches produce common linguistic speech patterns, and in cultural anthropological terms, we could then consider whether the growth of mass media communication has produced diachronic convergences between those communities and the mainstream of vocal production and patterning. As to behaviour and T-shirts, both are acts of will, i.e. assuming a reasonable degree of voluntariness, they represent the choices we make in the interpersonal relationships we form in and with our environment. There is extensive work on the metamethodologies, the methodologies and the methods relevant to researching the coding systems, both verbal and nonverbal. It varies from the preverbal learning by newly born humans and communication by those suffering from aphasia, to systems for investigating the extent to which cognitive processing is lexically based, to understanding how people distinguish data as salient, etc. It is, as you say, all very difficult. But a semiotician's gotta do what a. . . And as to your suggestion, I am entirely content for you to edit in any changes along the lines you suggest. I think I shall leave all this in your hands from now on. It has been interesting to meet you but I find myself increasingly distracted by the probability of my death next week. And I wish you good luck in your life. May it be long and successful. -David91 19:38, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
An Elephant in the Room?!
Could someone please explain to me what this phrase means? (It may also be helpful to put an explanation in the article - it is rather unclear to those outside of america - like me.)
- I am American and have no clue as to what the hell "elephant in the room" means.
This has to be one of the worst, most incoherent articles on Wikipedia. I can't decipher this gibberish. I'd edit it but I don't know where to begin! I think it needs a complete rewrite.
- I fully concur with the above anonymous commentator. Whatever this article is trying to say will be totally lost on anyone not holding a graduate degree in semiotics. Kelly Martin (talk) 00:53, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
Please specify the precise defects so that I can attempt to make it more accessible without sacrificing the use of the terminology (which is explained via the links). David91 01:39, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
- The article is gibberish. The ENTIRE article is gibberish. If I could make it any more specific, I'd fix it myself. Kelly Martin (talk) 20:54, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
While I don't think it's gibberish, it does seem to me to stray rather far from the topic of Americanism. The section "Explanation" seems to be a fairly general discussion of semiotics and linguistics. It is really not very clear that the discussion is germane to the topic "Americanism". To me it seems rather like taking an article with the title Poodle and devoting most of the text to explaining the difference between birds and mammals or perhaps to controversial aspects of biological definitions of life. While such discussion may be interesting, it is far beyond the scope of the article. Likewise, in the section "An Example": the fact that the expression is spreading from an American origin seems entirely incidental to the points being discussed. --Tabor 23:13, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
- Well, I thank Tabor for accepting that a page which is intended to be about Americanisms from the perspective of linguistics/semiotics is not gibberish. Once anyone adopts the appropriately tinted spectacles of an academic discipline, the world looks different. To try to bridge the gap between these specialisms and the lay reader, I therefore included some more general material simply to explain what the fields of study attempt to do and indicated that the explanation was relevant to any "ism", no matter what its linguistic point of origin. However, the whole point of any word or phrase being labelled an "Americanism" is that it is an act of identification performed by non-Americans. Hence, the word or phrase must first be exported from America and recognised as being indelibly associated with an aspect of American culture. For example, I first encountered the phrase "elephant in the room" in an episode of "Judging Amy" and it has been interesting to watch it slowly creep into in local written materials. Americans perform the same process when adopting words or phrases used by non-American speakers or writers whether they appear in the cinema, television or other forms of mass media. The study of this process is a part of linguistics/semiotics in exactly the same way as one studies which social grouping prefers poodles as their pet, and what semiotic message this sends when the owner walks down the street with a delicately coiffured animal at their heels. David91 01:59, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
- To the extent that you have tried to bridge the gap between the lay reader and the professional semioticist, you have failed. (I also note that your paragraph above is difficult to read; perhaps you have spent too long dissecting words.) Secondly, I challenge that "the elephant in the room" is really an Americanism. I've lived in America all my life and this is the first time I've ever heard it. Kelly Martin (talk) 02:24, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
I am sorry that you find my version of English difficult to understand but I thank you for at least engaging in discussion rather than mere invective. I did not set orientation of this topic on the page. I simply happened upon it and, having some minor interest in semiotics, wrote what now seems to represent a source of significant controversy. If you and the other readers of this page wish to redesignate it as being "Pop culture", then I will happily leave it to those with expertise in that area to write material that is appropriate, exploiting whatever jargon is essential to match readership expectations. However, so long as it remains a page in linguistics/semiotics, I defend the use of their jargon, all of which is linked to explanatory material. If you think that I have failed, please give an example and let us see whether we can arrive at a form of words that we can both live with. As to the Americanism I selected, you rather prove my point that the source culture is usually not aware of the word or phrase as having been labelled as typical by an outside culture. I am sure that there are many words you might have labelled as typical of Australia, Britain, etc. that I have never encountered or never considered significant. So let us negotiate over the text to improve it. David91 03:17, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
- On whether elephant in the room is an Americanism, ironically an early attestation is Alan Clarke's 1989 film Elephant, which took it's title from writer Bernard MacLaverty's description of the troubles in Northern Ireland as being, "like having an elephant in your living room, getting in the way of everything - but after a while you learn to live with it." (Clark is English; MacLaverty is Irish).  --Tabor 05:19, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
I think it originated as the title and repeated phrase in the eponymous poem by Terry Kettering which expressly refers to an obvious problem that everyone pretends not to see and it has been adopted wholesale by the U.S. alcoholism/addiction recovery and grief industries. It first appeared in 1989 in Bereavement Magazine according to the sources I have found. I have certainly encountered it with increasing frequency on American sites and, having first met it through an American TV show I suppose I classify it as an Americanism. But if you think the use of this phrase is unacceptable, perhaps you will suggest an alternative and I will redraft the analysis. David91 10:24, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
- Whether that particular phrase is American or not was really just a side note. I can't really suggest a replacement until I understand the basic point you are getting at with this article. So, I have made a somewhat simplified paraphrase of what the article seems to mean (in broad strokes). There is some imprecision in the language, but I am trying to come to an understanding of the overall structure and purpose of the article.
- Americanisms are charteristics of English as spoken or written in the United States.
- Different social groups use language differently. Nationalities are one such group.
- A language characteristic of one group may be adopted by another group.
- One way American English has diverged from other varieties English is through the creation of new language features.
- Another way it differs is by preserving old characteristics that have not survived in other varieties of English.
- American English characteristics are also found in Canadian English.
- One way to study language is to examine what function or purpose it serves.
- A semiotic approach may look at communication in terms of signs, how signs are combined, and their social context.
- Such an approach draws on a relatively wide set of observations, because it takes into account both linguistic and non-linguistic evidence.
- Both linguistic and non-linguistic cues are used to communicate in the real world.
- For communication to be effective, participants must share knowledge of these cues and the rules for using them.
- This approach can be used to study what is meant by an "Americanism".
- An example
- Consider the phrase "an elephant in the room". This phrase is used to describe an difficulty so big that it can't possibly have been overlooked, but that many ignore anyway, either pretending it doesn't exist or just learning to live with it. For example: "The soaring national debt is the elephant in the room."
- Taken individually:
- an elephant denotes large, grey-skinned, herbivorous animal
- a room denotes an enclosed space within a building
- The meaning of the expression cannot be attributed to the direct meaning of "elephant" and "room" in isolation. The meaning is something created by the combination of the two.
- A listener or reader encountering this phrase might ask: What is the significance of an elephant in a room? What is the speaker or author trying to communicate by choosing these particular things?
- One way to examine this question is to try choosing different things and noticing how their substitution changes the meaning of the expression. In semiotics this is called a commutation test.
- For example: "an ant in the room" or "an elephant in the Astrodome" don't communicate the same idea. What is noticible about "an elephant in the room" is that it is a very large animal in a rather small place. It is the juxtaposition of size that is noticible about the combination. An elephant would be very difficult to ignore in a room.
- People who have encountered this expression before will readily recognize what is meant, while those who do not share the same knowledge may be puzzled by it. The knowledge of what this code refers to is somewhat common among speakers of American English. This particular expression appears to be finding its way to other varieties of English.
- Now, if this is (in a crude way) similar to what the article means, it seems to me that the header section is about Americanism. Everything after that point seems only tangentially related to the topic. The last two sections contribute very little to addressing what an Americanism is. It seems to be describing, in general way, and functional/semiotic perspective on regional language differences. The topic of the article is not meant to be "A Semiotic Perspecitve on Dialectology", it is "Americanism". I think a general treatment of the topic should go under a different title. --Tabor 21:32, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
You have captured the sense of what I wrote with almost perfect understanding. The issue is whether what was designated as a page on linguistics/semiotics should use any of the terminology from those disciplines. Would you, for example, propose that a page on baseball should avoid using the sporting jargon of pitcher and plate, and replace it with a generalised despription of a man throwing a ball through a designated space where another attempts to hit it with a stick? I will rewrite the piece using your template but with the subject's terminology and see whether you accept the compromise. Since my health is poor, it will take me a few hours. David91 01:31, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks so much. The article at its new location is looking better every day. --Tabor 06:39, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
Americanist article needs reality
Guys, does anyone here realize that there is a segment of the population that considers themselves as an "Americanist"? The issue about the Pope should be removed and the article should go on to define what an Americanist actually is. I would be happy to provide text and citations if someone gives me the "thumbs up" to do so. Jtpaladin 16:40, 30 November 2006 (UTC)
several off-topic entries
This is a disambiguation page, but some of the entries don't seem appropriate based on the definition of a disambiguation page. To quote the definition, "disambiguations are paths leading to different articles which could, in principle, have the same title." In other words, I don't think disambiguation pages cover 1) "not to be confused" with terms, except using the special template for that, or 2) definitions.
Here are entries that don't feel meet the disambiguation page standard:
- Americanization. This is not the same thing as Americanism. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to add a "not to be confused with Americanization" link instead?
- Two entries which are effectively definitions, perhaps more appropriate for Wiktionary, though that's a separate question:
- "An attitude or conviction which gives special importance to the nation, national interest, political system, or culture of the United States."
- "a phrase: anything, such as a custom, particular to or characteristic of the Americas, and especially of the United States." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Proxyma (talk • contribs) 16:17, 1 October 2013 (UTC)