OT: excellent book on information theory

Steven D'Aprano steve at REMOVEMEcyber.com.au
Thu Jan 19 00:10:41 EST 2006

Roger Upole wrote:

>>>>I wouldn't have figured out that a "car park" was a parking lot.  I
>>>>might have thought it was a park where you go to look at scenery from
>>>>inside your car.  Sort of a cross between a normal park and a drive-in
>>>Just as another isolated data point, the first time I saw the
>>>expression "car park", I went and looked it up.  Even
>>>though from the context the meaning seemed obvious,
>>>I was left with some doubts as to whether it might have
>>>some more specific connotations.  For instance, it could
>>>have referred to a metered lot, or to a parking garage
>>>with time tickets, or even some kind of valet parking.
>>But a car park can be any one of those things, or something else such as an unmetered lot.

> And this is exactly my point.  Without already knowing
> that it's used as a general term, one doesn't know just
> what the expression implies (or doesn't imply).

And you won't get that from the dictionary, only from 
context. And having got the context, you don't need the 
dictionary definition to know whether it is paid or 
unpaid or even whether it matters.

I mean, when you read "He sat on the chair" do you need 
to look up the dictionary to discover that chairs can 
have arm rests or not, they can be made of wood or 
steel or uphostered springs, be on legs or coasters, 
fixed or movable? If it mattered, a good author will 
tell you, and if it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.

I cheer your willingness to look unfamiliar words in 
the dictionary, no sarcasm implied, but the dictionary 
rarely gives you either context or connotations (see 
the difference between describing somebody as wearing 
"sensible shoes" and "practical shoes").


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