Friends of Semantic Compositions

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January 10, 2005



Not to belabour the point, but the act you found featured on so many websites is more frequently described with "blow" than the more accurate "suck," so the two words have, in that context and the corresponding metaphor, become synonyms.

Curiously, "bite" means the same thing, but only in sarcastic and metaphorical contexts. ("Bite me" or "that bites.") Unless we're talking about Klingons.

language hat

Are you serious about "slow up"? It's perfectly good English; I've used the synonymy of "slow up" and "slow down" for many years as an illustration of the hopeless irrationality of language (to counter the idiots who think that double negatives are inherently "wrong"), and no one has ever objected to the former as non-English. I think you are the one with the idiolect.

Semantic Compositions

I'm only being half-serious about slow up -- it's always struck me as bothersome in a way that double negatives never have. Part of it is that while it's harder to keep track of the sentence's polarity with double negatives, at least I have clear intuitions about each word's contribution to sentence meaning. Whereas with up/down, I have no intuition at all about what they mean if "slow up = slow down", but "speed up != speed down".

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