HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » I am sincerely perplexed ... » Reply #134

Response to samsingh (Reply #59)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 03:36 PM

134. Language. It's a problem.

Most words we hear we never look up in a dictionary. That's fine. We hear them used in sentences and we may discard our first guess as to the word's meaning the second or third time we hear it. Then we learn where it's okay to use the word and we narrow and shape the meaning(s).

Sometimes we get it wrong and words, over time, change meaning. "Stay the course" meant "to stay in the race until the end of the course." Like "stay the night." It wasn't common, people could interpret it to mean "not change the course", they liked how that definition fit and didn't see a reason to change there interpretation. Now "change the course", less than 10 years later, mostly means "not change course." Just like, apparently, "stay the night" means "not change the night."

That kind of change was responsible for the word "lord" going from the guy who handed out the bread on a work crew to the guy who owns and is responsible for a large manor to the supreme being, all in 400 years. Still, we're not talking 400 years and we're not talking about words that don't need detailed definitions. These are specialized terms and built into the law. You change the meanings only if you want to impose your meanings on experts and rewrite the law without legislation.

An automatic weapon is a weapon that reloads the chamber after each shot. You pull the trigger, and it will fire, reload, fire, reload, etc., until you release the trigger. It is fully automatic, you don't need to tell it to reload by letting go of the trigger.

A self-loading weapon is a weapon that is ready for a new shot with every pull of the trigger. You pull the trigger and it will fire; you release the trigger, it reloads. You can pull the trigger repeatedly and keep on shooting. But if you pull the trigger once, you can only fire a single round.

There are old fashioned self-loaders. Revolvers, for instance. It would move the chamber and bullet into place for the next shot. Pull trigger, fire shot, release trigger, cylinder moves and puts new bullet into place. After a few shots you have to remove the spent cartridges using gravity or your fingers, and then reload what amounts to a built-in merger of magazine and chamber. This is "Old West" tech, and the size and mass of the cylinder mattered: After 7 or 8 spots for bullets the cylinder becomes too big for a pistol, and the spring to make that mass move quickly becomes large. Revolvers are self-limiting.

A semi-automatic rifle (or pistol) is the same but different. You pull the trigger, fire shot, release trigger, a new bullet is put into place. That's the same. There are three big differences, of which two are irrelevant here: The first is that the spent catridge is expelled, so you never have to remove them (unless there's a jam). The second is that there's only one chamber, unlike a revolver in which the cylinder is a rotating chamber. The third, and arguably relevant point, is that since the mechanism just expels the cartridge and grabs a bullet from a magazine, any magazine that gets a bullet to the right spot for the mechanism works. It can hold 2 bullets. It could hold 2000. That means the real difference between a Dillinger or Tombstone shoot-out revolver and the AK-15 is one of "how many bullets can I fire before I have to stop."

The third kind are manual loading rifles or pistols. They can be pump action or bolt action. Or even things like muzzle loaders. In other words: pull trigger, fire bullet, release trigger. Then perform some sort of manual action to expel the spent cartridge or remove it, reload the chamber, and set the gun for the next round. When you're hunting this is slow and cumbersome. You want a semi-automatic for hunting, if at all possible. I knew hunters that had 3 or 4 rifles with them when they hunted. I didn't understand until somebody explained. They were bolt action. He'd fire one, drop it in his lap as he picked up the second and fired it. Slow, but faster--and a heck of a lot quieter--than reloading.

The problem is that people are hearing "assault rifle" and thinking "military-style rifle with big magazine" because almost every time they've heard the word "assault rifle" their self-produced definition fits what they see and also fits the context. It's wrong, but it's not obviously wrong. Then when they hear a sentence where their definition doesn't fit, they can't believe that they're wrong. It's like being told you've made an error is an insult. They don't want to take the time to admit that their definitions are wrong.

Same for "semi-automatic"--it's got to be big and scary because the guns we see described as "semi-automatic" are usually big and scary. Heck, the air gun firing pellets that my friend had in the '70s was semi-automatic.


It doesn't help that adjusting their speech to fit the specialized definition of these terms makes the target of their outrage hard to nail: They obviously hate something and want to ban something away from the less-competent for their own good, but if it's not "assault rifles", if it's not "semi-automatic weapons," then what is the target they're shooting at?

Then there's familiarity-based confusion. You hear "assault rifle" and "assault weapon" and don't understand the difference. You can't admit ignorance because we think that'st he same as being stupid, we're not going to waste time looking up the difference, so we ignore the difference. They mean the same thing, don't they? Others can't explain the difference so there isn't one. They're synonyms. But they're not. Assault weapon is a term made up for "big scary weapons with big magazines that are legal but still scary and still big." It lacks a good definition because it's not a term that needs precision or accuracy. "Big" and "scary" are hard to nail down. "Assault rifle" is a term with some precision. It absolutely needs to have an automatic firing setting, for instance.

Reply to this post

Back to OP Alert abuse Link to post in-thread

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 211 replies Author Time Post
phantom power Jul 2012 OP
Cooley Hurd Jul 2012 #1
pinboy3niner Jul 2012 #3
PatrynXX Jul 2012 #123
pinboy3niner Jul 2012 #128
pscot Jul 2012 #132
pinboy3niner Jul 2012 #139
lunatica Jul 2012 #13
xmas74 Jul 2012 #51
PatrynXX Jul 2012 #131
pscot Jul 2012 #135
xmas74 Jul 2012 #148
X_Digger Jul 2012 #210
xmas74 Jul 2012 #211
movonne Jul 2012 #119
samsingh Jul 2012 #203
DrDan Jul 2012 #2
Odin2005 Jul 2012 #4
Edweird Jul 2012 #5
grantcart Jul 2012 #17
Edweird Jul 2012 #30
grantcart Jul 2012 #90
klook Jul 2012 #114
quakerboy Jul 2012 #118
grantcart Jul 2012 #125
Llewlladdwr Jul 2012 #167
grantcart Jul 2012 #169
slackmaster Jul 2012 #190
drm604 Jul 2012 #120
calimary Jul 2012 #130
Surya Gayatri Jul 2012 #127
calimary Jul 2012 #129
grantcart Jul 2012 #133
calimary Jul 2012 #165
laundry_queen Jul 2012 #192
DCBob Jul 2012 #158
Tejas Jul 2012 #202
samsingh Jul 2012 #204
Jeff In Milwaukee Jul 2012 #172
Edweird Jul 2012 #41
rl6214 Jul 2012 #194
DirkGently Jul 2012 #54
Edweird Jul 2012 #184
DirkGently Jul 2012 #188
Edweird Jul 2012 #191
rl6214 Jul 2012 #195
pasto76 Jul 2012 #58
Edweird Jul 2012 #69
pasto76 Jul 2012 #149
Edweird Jul 2012 #163
OneTenthofOnePercent Jul 2012 #186
rl6214 Jul 2012 #196
TroglodyteScholar Jul 2012 #71
pasto76 Jul 2012 #151
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #103
pasto76 Jul 2012 #150
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #154
pasto76 Jul 2012 #160
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #162
Igel Jul 2012 #79
Edweird Jul 2012 #87
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #101
Paladin Jul 2012 #109
Edweird Jul 2012 #138
rhett o rick Jul 2012 #112
Edweird Jul 2012 #140
phantom power Jul 2012 #121
Egalitarian Thug Jul 2012 #137
phantom power Jul 2012 #206
Egalitarian Thug Jul 2012 #208
intaglio Jul 2012 #136
Edweird Jul 2012 #143
intaglio Jul 2012 #168
Edweird Jul 2012 #170
liberalmuse Jul 2012 #152
Erose999 Jul 2012 #178
Edweird Jul 2012 #183
Erose999 Jul 2012 #185
Edweird Jul 2012 #187
Erose999 Jul 2012 #197
Edweird Jul 2012 #198
Erose999 Jul 2012 #201
Edweird Jul 2012 #205
hack89 Jul 2012 #6
slackmaster Jul 2012 #7
DrDan Jul 2012 #16
leftyohiolib Jul 2012 #22
DrDan Jul 2012 #23
LonePirate Jul 2012 #38
slackmaster Jul 2012 #48
Tuesday Afternoon Jul 2012 #56
DrDan Jul 2012 #73
slackmaster Jul 2012 #75
Skittles Jul 2012 #116
DrDan Jul 2012 #146
calimary Jul 2012 #141
DrDan Jul 2012 #145
calimary Jul 2012 #147
jmowreader Jul 2012 #156
DrDan Jul 2012 #159
dionysus Jul 2012 #175
DrDan Jul 2012 #177
leftyohiolib Jul 2012 #18
Starboard Tack Jul 2012 #57
slackmaster Jul 2012 #60
Starboard Tack Jul 2012 #70
slackmaster Jul 2012 #72
Starboard Tack Jul 2012 #76
slackmaster Jul 2012 #77
pasto76 Jul 2012 #61
slackmaster Jul 2012 #65
A Simple Game Jul 2012 #142
pasto76 Jul 2012 #161
slackmaster Jul 2012 #173
Kaleva Jul 2012 #181
pasto76 Jul 2012 #153
slackmaster Jul 2012 #155
Kaleva Jul 2012 #80
Igel Jul 2012 #82
pasto76 Jul 2012 #157
ileus Jul 2012 #63
bonniebgood Jul 2012 #124
slackmaster Jul 2012 #126
muriel_volestrangler Jul 2012 #164
slackmaster Jul 2012 #171
muriel_volestrangler Jul 2012 #180
slackmaster Jul 2012 #182
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #8
Posteritatis Jul 2012 #20
ellisonz Jul 2012 #9
Kaleva Jul 2012 #10
Kaleva Jul 2012 #11
Edweird Jul 2012 #12
Kaleva Jul 2012 #19
HooptieWagon Jul 2012 #35
Starboard Tack Jul 2012 #66
Igel Jul 2012 #83
frazzled Jul 2012 #14
Igel Jul 2012 #86
frazzled Jul 2012 #95
TheKentuckian Jul 2012 #144
Gman Jul 2012 #15
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #21
Generic Brad Jul 2012 #24
Igel Jul 2012 #89
HooptieWagon Jul 2012 #25
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #27
99Forever Jul 2012 #26
TeamPooka Jul 2012 #28
wandy Jul 2012 #29
Tejas Jul 2012 #36
wandy Jul 2012 #40
Tejas Jul 2012 #49
Kaleva Jul 2012 #55
-..__... Jul 2012 #68
Igel Jul 2012 #104
Igel Jul 2012 #93
Kaleva Jul 2012 #37
wandy Jul 2012 #46
slackmaster Jul 2012 #53
Kaleva Jul 2012 #62
slackmaster Jul 2012 #52
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #67
wandy Jul 2012 #85
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #98
Tejas Jul 2012 #31
Kaleva Jul 2012 #44
Igel Jul 2012 #105
Iggy Jul 2012 #32
HooptieWagon Jul 2012 #39
Kaleva Jul 2012 #43
Kaleva Jul 2012 #42
Iggy Jul 2012 #166
Tejas Jul 2012 #47
Igel Jul 2012 #110
petronius Jul 2012 #33
Lizzie Poppet Jul 2012 #34
ileus Jul 2012 #45
JVS Jul 2012 #50
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #74
samsingh Jul 2012 #59
slackmaster Jul 2012 #64
Kaleva Jul 2012 #81
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #100
Kaleva Jul 2012 #106
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #111
harun Jul 2012 #107
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #113
dionysus Jul 2012 #174
Ready4Change Jul 2012 #91
slackmaster Jul 2012 #94
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #97
LineLineReply Language. It's a problem.
Igel Jul 2012 #134
jmowreader Jul 2012 #189
benEzra Jul 2012 #209
Schema Thing Jul 2012 #78
Rex Jul 2012 #84
avaistheone1 Jul 2012 #88
Kaleva Jul 2012 #92
4th law of robotics Jul 2012 #99
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #102
ananda Jul 2012 #96
MineralMan Jul 2012 #108
obamanut2012 Jul 2012 #115
Raine1967 Jul 2012 #117
baldguy Jul 2012 #122
nadinbrzezinski Jul 2012 #176
Hoyt Jul 2012 #179
rl6214 Jul 2012 #193
MrMickeysMom Jul 2012 #200
REP Jul 2012 #199
phantom power Jul 2012 #207
Please login to view edit histories.