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Busy week
Bar Harbor
Not much posting lately, been too busy with life.

Got to dance practice Wed, for the first time in months. Only danced a few dances, as I was worried about my cold relapsing. It doesn't seem to have, thankfully. Flirtes with some Fabulous Babes (tm), and got to chat some with friends who I hadn't seen in a while. Quote of the evening: "Thundercats should not wear lingerie!"

Thursday kestrell and I meant to go to a ship-party sponsored by my employers. Sadly, the directions we had were written by a Boston native, so we eventually gave up and went home.

Friday evening, we watched Kes' new DVD of Gattaca. One of the very few movies I've sen that were actually science fiction, as opposed to sci-fi. Certainly Hugo-worthy (it was beaten out that year by Contact). Kes especially appreciated Jude Law's voice, so she is now more interested in going to see Sky Captain. Apparently, Jude Law will also be in the upcoming Series of Unfortunate Events film, as the voice of Lemony Snicket.

Saturday, I went to pick up comics. Thankfully, last month's huge stack of expensive stuff *was* an anomaly, so I broke neither my back nor my bank. Then I went into work for a few hours. There's a script deadline coming up Wednesday, and meeting it will be a bit tight. It would have been less of an issue if Ken had actually started writing his first drafts two months ago like he was supposed to, rather than leaving it until the last week or so. Sigh. Came home once my brain was used up and played computer games until Too Late (but not Far Too Late).

Today, I spent the morning going through not one but two months worth of Diamond's Previews catalogs. Sturgeon's Law is certainly still out in force. There are still enough diamonds in the rough to make it worth doing, but it's still a chore. Spending this evening catching up on email and web stuff. More anon...

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But all these meanings are in a closely-related constellation.

Really, what is it lately with people I hang out with complaining about words having multiple meanings? Single-meaning words are fine for programming languages, but are far too weak for human ones.

I must have missed (or forgotten) the other conversation you reference.

Multiple related meanings are ok. But even the sentences that M-W chose to illustrate the concepts have insufficient context to tell which one is meant.

What if there were a word which meant blue, or red, or a chair, or sometimes an emotion? That's what the M-W definition looks like to me.

Hokay, looking over the definitions above, combined with my experience of actual usage, and some knowledge of its history:

The original usage was more or less "a pronunciation used to distinguish one group from another". 2a and 2b both clearly derive from this. 1a is very like 2a, only with the extra shade of "usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning". This is appropriate since a shibboleth's 'meaning' is more contained in how it distinguishes group memberships than in its particular content. 1b derives from 1a if you add "large or prevalent" to "a party, sect, or belief".

That leaves only 1c, which essentially shades "large group of people" into "all right-thinking people". I don't actually think that 1c is an appropriate usage of the word, unless it's being used ironically, but irony often escapes poor writers.

Re: Definitions/mutation

Ok, I can understand you & Justin's POV, I think.

However, my approach to this is colored by my previous history of the word usually meaning "provably false myths."

I'll retire from that argument, now.

How about another one, since we're sort of on the topic?

What definition of SF, sci-fi, or what-ever-you-want-to-call-it includes horror stories not set in the future? I got really grumpy when LOCUS took that genre under their wing ( monthly review sections, etc.(this some 10 years ago)) It doesn't seem related at all, to me.

Re: Definitions/mutation

"speculative fiction" includes horror stories that have fantasy and/or supernatural elements (which is a strong majority of them). It does not (IMHO) include things like, say, Psycho. Mileage varies.

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