25 Matching Annotations
  1. Jun 2024
    1. I'd agree that much of the time 'not prefer' is a perfectly adequate way of conveying the same sense as 'disprefer' (just as 'not agree' will for most purposes convey the same sense as 'disagree', and 'not like' the same sense as 'dislike'). However, they aren't strictly equivalent; I might neither prefer nor disprefer Coke to Pepsi, but rather be neutral between them. Possibly the purpose for which 'disprefer' is most useful is cancelling implications – 'I don't prefer it – though I don't disprefer it either'.
    2. (That is, when you disprefer that George be elected, you prefer the negation, that George not be elected, rather than just you do not prefer that George be elected, which is compatible with indifference.)
    3. Who says it's not a word? Not a word, simply because lexicographers have not recognized it? When a lexicographer recognizes it, it has already been in use! Even Mr. Fiske says it is a word, although he obviously disprefers it.

      by the time a lexicographer recognizes it, it has already been in use

    4. I believe it is possible to disprefer something while either 1. not disliking it, or 2. liking it but not intensely enough to be the preference. As in, "I like tart apples, but I sometimes disprefer them as an ingredient on a green salad." It doesn't and hasn't, meant I would refuse to eat a salad with this ingredient included, but there are times when my preference would have been to have a salad without them.
    5. I think you linguists worry too much. It's a simple enough formation using a very common prefix, and while it is not clear whether "I disprefer" means "I do not prefer" or "I prefer something other than" or "I prefer the opposite of" or "I stop preferring", either it'll settle down to one meaning or it'll carry a range. So what? This is the first time I've heard the word but I don't find it particularly puzzling.
    6. 'Disprefer' is another good one! It fits well with a wonderful pungent comment about some holiday meal by my nephew when he was about 10: Well, I don't love the parsnips …. Apparently it was a common construction for his classmates in 4th grade, a truth-in-humor bit of sass enjoyed by all. I'll introduce 'disprefer' to him as a high-falutin' possibility for his more grown-up years.

      disprefer = don't love ?

    7. on reasonable uses of "disprefer" — it's probably true that its meaning is not immediately apparent, and using it when addressing general audiences probably avoided (dispreferred?), but of course, it depends on the context I think. It is a term that has an obvious jargon aspect, but that doesn't seem to me to make it uniformly verboten. Other, DNA would never have entered the popular lexicon, or quantum… I'm sure those parallels are inapt in several ways, but my point, which I think still stands, is that while clarity to the broadest audience possible is often a laudable goal, this also doesn't mean it should be the only or always the chief goal. It seems to me technical words get disseminated and incorporated popularly through their use outside of strictly technical fora, and while several people said they did a double take or didn't immediately understand the word (or misunderstood its meaning), it's also true that this can happen with perfectly reasonable, standard vernacular constructions, especially reasonable standard constructions that are expressing a counter-intuitive (even if true) claim. Just sayin' — "can people understand this without giving it but a moment's thought" is a high (or ultra-low) car to hold all non-technical communication to. (That said, I also have a love for arcane words, shades of meaning, and being able to express certain moods/valences/concepts precisely. THAT said, I'm no linguist, and probably won't be using this word commonly for all my talk.)
    8. So what's the problem here? The problem is that it's not a word except to small, relatively closed circles of specialists such as linguists (saving your reverences). And, pace those people who think its meaning is clear on first sight, it's not (and it's telling that some people's response to Amy's saying that she hadn't understood it was to chastise her rather than admit that perhaps they were wrong about its transparency). Hell, I have an MPhil in linguistics, and even I dislike it and would try to avoid it if possible. I think it's fine for use in the field, where you can expect that your readers will be familiar with it, but it's solipsistic verging on insulting to use it with the public at large; showing off specialist vocabulary (which this is) is not polite.

      I don't think it's that specialist of a word... :shrug:

    9. Having read this, it appears that there is a reasonable consensus and, given that, I will probably add it to my vocabulary as it does fill a niche – but I'll be careful where and with whom I use it.
    10. And the exact meaning of "dis-" varies from word to word, but it always includes reversing the polarity of some semantic component (rather than just neutralizing it). Connect X to Y = position X such that it is joined to Y Disconnect X from Y = position X such that it is separated from Y Approve X = assert that X is good Disapprove X = assert that X is bad Prefer X = when selecting from a set choices, choice X first Disprefer X = when selecting from a set of choices, chose X last
    11. prescriptivist habits, but "disprefer" seems a straightforward, useful coining to me.
    12. Computer programmer here. 'Disprefer' is a somewhat uncommon, but entirely standard, word at my work. I would guess that it's most common use is in restricting some other preference. E.g. "sort by age, but disprefer objects that need disk access".
    13. John: But that's exactly what I did! Dis- + prefer should theoretically mean "don't prefer" or "unprefer". So what does that mean? You're neutral? I understand the meaning now from the comments. But I don't think the meaning is clear from the components. Just to check my understanding of dis-, I checked a few online dictionaries, and roughly speaking… dis- = lack of, not, apart, away, undo, remove The reason I was confused was that to me, dis- simply neutralises a word. It multiplies the meaning by zero, yielding zero. It's not like anti-, which multiplies by minus one, changing the sign and changing the meaning to the opposite. If you said anti-prefer, I'd have a better idea of what the word meant.
    14. If you said anti-prefer, I'd have a better idea of what the word meant.
    15. I'm no linguist, and can barely aspire to lackeydom (takers?), but I'm taking quite a shine to "disprefer". Meanwhile… to "object to" something, it seems to me you have to express your objection, where to prefer or disprefer you need only choose, possibly with no one else the wiser. So, he's wrong again.
    16. So what's the problem here? The obvious reasoning is that "dis-" is a common English prefix, and "prefer" is a common English verb. You don't need a dictionary entry to explain or justify combining them. The dictionary entries for "dis-" and "prefer" should be all that's needed, and any reasonably fluent speaker should be able to make or understand the combination. Granted, "disprefer" may not be a common word, but it shouldn't be a mystery to anyone with any familiarity with English.
    17. I've never come across this word before, but I immediately understood it and see its usefulness. I'm likely to use it in the future.
    18. Amy: It's a real word. I use it all the time (of course, I'm a linguist, and I allow the possibility that I picked it up from my linguist chums, though it doesn't seem particularly jargony to me). For me, "disprefer X" means something like "not choose X when other options are available". This is subtly different from "prefer anything over X", quite different from "not prefer X", and totally distinct from "dislike X" or "object to X".
    19. Perfectly useful jargon: if we say that of alternatives ABCD, we disprefer C, we mean "definitely choose something else if possible", almost as strongly as if we said C was the worst alternative.
    20. It baffled me, because I wasn't sure whether it meant simply "don't prefer", or the stronger "dislike". Despite having read the article, the possibility that it meant that "prefer anything over" didn't occur to me until I saw blahedo's comment. "Disprefer" is the most disunconfusing word I've heard in a long time.
    21. *Other things being equal, we should disprefer blogs to journalism. USE prefer journalism to blogs.* I can't say he's clearly wrong about this one, depending on the information structure of discourse or text. If blogs are the topic, there's a lot to be said for making it the direct object rather than an oblique, the object of a preposition.
    22. *It's interesting as a spelling pronunciation, preferred by some speakers, dispreferred by others. USE not* Fiske fails to note that dispreferred expresses a contrary negation, not simply a contradictory one. The writer is excluding the possibility that the dispreferring speakers might be merely indifferent to the pronunciation in question, but the use of not would include that possibility.

      Appropriate word choice in the same way that "liked by some, disliked by others" is appropriate.

    23. The most important nontechnical use of 'disprefer' (for me) is to say that among a sea of choices to which I am largely indifferent, there is some choice that is particularly my least favourite—I may not have any legal, moral, or other objection to it, I just don't like it. I wouldn't say I use this all the time, but I certainly use it regularly when it's appropriate.
    1. "Less favored" or "less preferred" may be the preferable word choice most of the time (because it's usually about degree of preference, not merely a binary "preferred or not")

      Because it's about degree (on a continuum), it would usually be clearer (and therefore preferred) to specify whether, for instance, you mean "less preferred" or "least preferred". "dispreferred" is ambiguous in that regard: I had assumed it meant (was using it to mean) less preferred ( not the most preferred), but apparently others (https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2186) read it and see "least preferred".