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12 August 2009 @ 05:40 pm
Hypothetical question (in that the relevant conversation took place probably 10 years ago)  
Suppose someone writes something in a public forum. Anything, it doesn't really matter.

Suppose I respond by saying, "That's kind of ambiguous. I think you mean XYZ, but it could also mean UVW or even RST. Could you clarify, please?"

Suppose the person did mean XYZ.

Is that person justified in saying, "If you understood I meant XYZ, the original statement was not ambiguous and you're just showing off"?
Current Mood: curiouscurious
arsmitharsmith on August 12th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
I think I remember this conversation, or many like it.

My initial response to this was "No, and the person is just being an asshat," just like everyone else. Then I did some logical hair-splitting and came to an interesting conclusion. Consider:

Person 1: ABC

Person 2: Your statement is subject to several interperetations. One is XYZ, another is UVW, and a third is possibly RST, concievably there are others. I think you meant XYZ, is that the case?

Person 1: I did indeed mean XYZ. Since you came to that conclusion, my statement was not open to several interpretations and you are trying to socially dominate me by demonstrating your cleverness.

There's several shades of meaning lost in the translation, but I'm pretty sure I caught most of the important ones and made them more overt. Now, what's interesting here is there's a statement, a question about the statement, and an answer, and then a *completely new statement*. Actually, two of them. I can concieve of circumstances in which that second statement (or two) might be justified, logical sparring for the sake of logical sparring for example, but unless I actually was just showing off, I would be perfectly justified in turning around and saying "Since I had to ask you if you meant XYZ, UVW or RST in order to determine how I was going to respond, your statment was too ambiguous. If you want less of these questions you should pay more attention to your audience when you communicate, meathead." (You might want to leave off that last word, or even that last sentance).
arsmitharsmith on August 12th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
ObEdit: that should be "was to ambiguous" not "was too ambiguous". Thank god this is a written forum.