When and why to use these verbs ? Are they used in different languages and cultures for the same reasons ?
Kalleh is right ! This question have to be cleared(?), our respective lexicons and other glossaries have to be sieved(?), and our own common usages of these verbs to be analyzed(?). In this goal, let's compare these two verb usages in all our native languages. I start here the investigation process by my native proud frenchy, to light(? the way and the method I propose.
1 - TO CLARIFY
Dictionnaries for academic conventions
(ROBERT) Clarifier : v.tr. (Lat. XIIe ecclés, clarificare "glorifier"; Lat. clarus "illustre")
1. (XVIe) Rendre plus clair un liquid épais.
2. Rendre plus pur, éliminer les substances étrangères.
V. Décanter, Epurer, Filtrer, Purifier, "Clarifer du sucre".
3. (fig.) Rendre plus clair.
V. Eclaicir, Elucider
"Il louait la littérature française de clarifier, de filtrer les idées"(MAUROIS).
ANT. Embrouiller, épaissir, troubler.
(Literaly) To clarify: v.tr (Lat XIIe ecclés, clarificare "to glorify"; Lat. clarus "illustrious")
1. (XVIe) To make a deep (dark, dense) liquid (more) clear.
2. To make (more) pure. See also To clear, to elucidate.
"He praised french litterature to clarify, to filter ideas"(MAUROIS)
ANT. To tangle, to deepen, to cloud.
(Hachette) Clarifier : v.trans.
1. Rendre plus pur, plus limpide. Clarifier un liquide.
2. Rendre plus compréhensible, plus net. Clarifier une discussion, une situation.
(Literaly) To clarify: 1. To make more pure, more limpid. To clarify a liquid.
2. To make more understandable, more net. To clarify a discussion (debate), a situation.
2 - TO ELUCIDATE
Dictionnaries for academic conventions
(ROBERT) Elucider : v.tr. (fin XVe. bas.lat. elucidare). "Rendre clair ce qui représente à l'esprit des difficultés".
V.Clarifier, débrouiller, éclaircir, expliquer.
"Traducteur qui réussit à élucider un passage obscur". "L'enquête n'a pas encore permis d'élucider l'affaire". "Nul de ces commentateurs n'a pu élucider l'inquiétant problème".
ANT. Embrouiller, obscurcir.
(Literaly) To elucidate : v.tr. (end XVe. low lat. elucidare). "To make clear what is difficult to understand.
See also to clarify, to untangle, to clear, to explain.
"Translater who succeed to elucidate an obscur passage". "Inquiry didn't allow to elucidate the affair"."No-one of these commentators have elucidate this worrying problem."
(Hachette) Elucider : v. trans. "Rendre clair ce qui est mystérieux ou embrouillé. Élucider une énigme".
(Literaly) To elucidate : v.trans. "To make clear what is mysterious or muddled up. To elucidate an enigma".
3 - Respective "french" academic specializations of these quasi-synonymous are quite the same than their every day life usages. Here are two typical illustrations (extract of "bantering" Kalleh/Safi mails) :
Elucidation is used in french for expressions like "to elucidate a mystery, an enigma".
For example : a policeman, investigating a matter to discover a criminal, hopes to elucidate the crime enigma.
Clarification is used in french for expressions like "to clarify a confused situation".
For examples : a diplomat, an arbiter, an analyst, when reformulating, or spliting up, or breaking down, or distinguishing, some indistinct obscure aspects of a murky problem, hopes to clarify such confused situation.
Elucidation is the incertain search of the unknown truth. Clarification is the laborious separation of known but mixed aspects, of the clear (pure) sense under the noisy distorsions.
ROBERT : Petit ROBERT 1991
(I have to update it ?
... french is muting so quickly !)
Hachette : http://encyclo.voila.fr/
(Oh thanks http:// ! An uncredible online encyclopaedia where each word of each definition is clickable ..hmmiaooo.. A mephitic epicurean hypertext orgy coded by a computer savvyed cyclist racing Akimboed on a dumb oxymoron ... Wowaow.fr"
Sorry ... Hmm ... What's about these verbs meanings and usages is US-english, UK-english, yiddish, hebrew, greek ...? H.E.L.P. !
Thank you, Safi, for that excellent analysis! Mine won't be nearly as academic, but it will reflect my understanding of the use of those words here in the States. I think it is just great that we have so many different cultures represented on this site!
According to my sources, elucidate and clarify are synonyms. Elucidate means to explain or make clear, from the Latin lucere, to shine, or lucidus bright. Clarify, while synonymous with elucidate, means to make something easier to understand, coming from the Latin, clarus or clear. Of course, clarify also means to make clear by removing impurities, such as to clarify butter.
I read an interesting distinction elsewhere: "elucidate means to throw light on the problem. If there is light, but clouds obscure vision, a rise in temperature will clarify the atmosphere and improve visibility."
I have not seen it used as Safi has to elucidate a mystery or an enigma. Is this in fact cultural? Or--have I missed that definition of elucidate?
>>yiddish, hebrew, greek ...? H.E.L.P.
This is not strictly apropos, but:
The motto of Yale University, which is normally translated as "Light and Truth", appears on the university's emblem in latin, and in hebrew:
--Lux et veritas
It is normally translated as "Light and Truth" -- but the hebrew translates more precisely as Lights and Truths. An interesting difference in perspectives and absolutism, is it not?
Certainly I have generally considered elucidate and clarify pretty well synonymous.
The main difference is that if one elucidates a problem, one shines light on it. Things that were not originally apparent become visible.
If one clarifies a problem, there is some sense that part of the work has already been done, and the clarification is building on that. Things seen through a glass, darkly, become clear.
but then, face to face: now I know in part; but then i shall know even as i am known.
Uhhhhhhhh...yeah....what she said!
"It is normally translated as "Light and Truth" -- but the hebrew translates more precisely as Lights and Truths. An interesting difference in perspectives and absolutism, is it not?"
If memory serves me well, it was physicist Nils Bohr who said that sometimes the opposite of a great truth is another great truth.
We have collected some differences between typical specializations of these two verbs in our respective languages.
Now, what I want to share with you was how words convey ideas and concepts. Explicitly, through legible connotations of synonymous, or implicitly ...
"Elucidate" and "clarify" are synonymous, easy to use one for the other in many situations and this is meaningful. But yet, their differences are to be distinguished to isolate their real deep "consensus", their essential common idea, the core concept they both vehicle. The semantician calls "elucidate" and "clarify" two "sememes" and their core concept : a "taxeme", a class of sememes defined by their common core concept.
What are deep principal differences between "elucidate" and "clarify" in their principal acceptions ?
To "elucidate" :
- energy is mobilized in fighting between "to distinguish against to hide", between "the truth against the lie", ... etc.
- objectives are rather situations or ideas (this is the reason why french uses "elucidation" for enigma, mystery,...)
- subject is often, even always, a man, a spirit, with an "a priori" finality.
To "clarify" :
- energy is mobilized in fighting between "to separate against to blend", "to clean against to dirty", "to purify against to soil", ...etc.
- objectives are rather physical materials (liquid, air, ...) or entities.
- subject is a man or not. Nature itself, without an intention (metaphysical question) is able to clarify and to purify a vein, a river, a sea or some days a square of sky over whereever (here to clarify is not an elucidation if nobody is discovering what was dark before).
WHAT IS THEIR DEEP TAXEME, THEIR DEEP CORE CONCEPT ?
Few clues(?) to help to elucidate :
Mankind had feeling of this taxeme for millenaries (what language and lexical history shows) but, only had discovered, analyzed and named it on the 20th century.
This taxeme/concept is also a dual one (and how much : of a primary importance !), a dialectic one. It elucidates and clarifies all elucidations and clarifications "fightings schemes" of mankind and nature reunified : "order against disorder", "peace against war", "construct against destroy", up to the sensible metaphysical and mystical "right against wrong" which someones claim sometimes to "clarify" with "destroying against destroying", selling us their high "purity" or their legitim "lucidity".
So, happy word lovers, do you want to elucidate this riddle ? What is this taxeme ?
As promised, here is the experimentation protocol (inspired by comparative linguistical Merrit RUHLEN protocol) I propose Kalleh :
- Compare with GOOGLE the relative frequencies of pages where are used "elucidate", "elucidate +enigma", "elucidate +mystery", "clarify", "clarify +enigma", "clarify +mystery"
- Compare measures to conclude on the more used verbs for these two goals.
- Answer world wide GOOGLE.com for english frequencies and GOOGLE.fr for french ones.
- Compare the two verbs usages between english and french.
- If you accept the mission ..blblbla.. never heard about your cachinnations ..blblbla.. in 10 seconds @! OK !
Protocol debatable limitations (for a long time happy word lovers) that Kalleh will not omit to notify,
because it is sometimes hard to be "an educated mind able to entertain a thought without accepting it".
- protocol answers common languages of internet publications not strictly literary and academic.
- protocol counts couples of words, even if they are not strictly associated in the page and sometimes
neither contextualy (compensated by : ... Google also analyzes the proximity of those terms within the page ...)
- protocol has to be extend to more flexions like elucidation, elucidated, elucidating,
if measures with only one are not significative enough.
- if protocol have to be extended, it have to analyse all combinatorial of these flexions
with all synonymous and flexions of enigma and mystery like, ripple(s), conundrum, ... et alia.
- Sorry wildflowerchild, it's not as concise as you hope it, but here ... you know ...
I apologize without cheek kissing : they are suspended since your "Member Profile" doesn't mention your gender !?
- I'm now going to dine because Eve is angry and hungry, because childrens and friends are come and
hungry and angry too, and because she ( ) threaten to (no! ) shutdown the PC (please eve ! ) to quickly clarify
(kiss you too Eve !!? @*#!! ) ... our situation ... Enjoy your meal word lovers ! ... and so long.
In french "Qui ne dit mot, consent !" means literary "who stop talking, consent".
So, without explicit acceptance of the above proposed protocol, I consider it implicitly accepted and continue the ... investigation.
At the questions
"Is elucidate more often used than clarify about a mystery or an enigma ?"
"Is elucidate more often used, in these specific cases, in french than in english ?"
GOOGLE answers are :
Analysis of GOOGLE.com (of all world = 2,469,940,685 web pages on 08/2002)
elucidate 163.000 100,00
elucidate +enigma 2.060 1,26 x 5,50 v
elucidate +mystery 8.620 5,29 x 1,56 v
clarify 1.940.000 100,00
clarify +enigma 6.380 0,30 ^
clarify +mystery 65.700 3,39 ^
Analysis of GOOGLE.fr (of "francophone" indexed pages)
élucider 19.200 100,00
élucider +énigme 1.250 6,50 x 7,20 x 1,31
élucider +mystère 3.510 18,28 x 7,95 x 5,10
clarifier 70.800 100,00
clarifier +énigme 636 0,90 ^
clarifier +mystère 1.630 2,30 ^
<//-- GOOGLE conclusions are :
<//-- 1 - In english
<//-- 1.1 - An enigma is 5,5 more often elucidated than clarified
<//-- 1.2 _ A mystery is 1,56 more often elucidated than clarified
<//-- 2 - In french
<//-- 1.1 - An enigma is 7,2 more often elucidated than clarified
<//-- 1.2 _ A mystery is 7,95 more often elucidated than clarified
<//-- 3 - Between english and french
<//-- 3.1 - An enigma is 1,31 more often elucidated in french than in english
<//-- 3.2 - A mystery is 5,1 more often elucidated in french than in english
You win, Safi. Your data certainly indicate that elucidate is more likely to be used to discern an enigma than clarify is. I give up!
Safi, while I had not heard the word "taxeme" before, of course I have heard of "taxonomy" and knew that the 2 must be related--which indeed they are. I found the following about "taxeme" from the internet:
To describe linguistically relevant components, words are compared along structural relations inside minimal meaning sets called taxemes. A taxeme is thus a set of related words all sharing a ``family resemblance'', but there are currently no methods besides linguistic expertise for determining such minimal sets.
Now--I know you want me to do more than this! Since I do not want to be called a "slacker" once a again, can you please elucidate for me what you want me to do?
We know what are the differences between "clarify" and "elucidate", we know what is their core concept, their "common idea".
"What is the taxeme ?" means "What is the name of the ... thing, that unify this common idea shared between clarify, elucidate, sift, strain, clear, etc ?"
The fighting scheme I spoke about, posted Sat Aug 10th, is those against "ENTROPY". "Entropy" is always to be fought when we speak about "order against disorder", "peace against war", "construct against destroy", up to the sensible metaphysical and mystical "right against wrong".
So, we are looking for one word, only one rather than a locution, to name the opposite of the "Entropy".
I agree with you Shufitz, that "Light and Truth" is a very relevant one, and of course that the plurial variant "Lights and Truths", ASA, is as pertinent. What good intuitions !
Yes, oh yes ASA, Niels Bohr said that "The opposite of an ordinary truth is a stupid mistake, but the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth."
I have still not found satisfying answer to this question : What is THE word for the opposite of this profound truth named "Entropy" ? Only one word, not an expression.
< HELP !
Thinking, Safi, thinking..... Not slacking!
Few possibilites ?
1 - You hope an other monologue of (how did he say ?) "abject apologies" ... ? Not you ! Not me ! (It reminds me something ... not you ?).
2 - You want to be sure I'm not desperate ? I'm not, I can assure you !
3 - Ho, I've chosen the bad Smiley naturally, always immoderate, even with pictures. I'm french, do you remember ?
4 - You need more time to analyze, to clarify, to elucidate, ... sorry, this question is one of these questions that have so many answers and, at the same time, none definitive. (So much the better !).
I'm already impatient to read your answers.
I leave France for few days, I'll really SLACK ! (Don't say to Eve, I'll look for internet connection).
I'm going to travel somewhere in Andalucia. I'm going to read Rabbi Akiba rather than Plato, to hear Paco De Lucia rather than Julian Bream or John Scofield, I'm going to visit and photography Cordoba, Granada, Almeria. Here are Eve's roots and, somewhere, ours too, no ?
So long !
First, Safi, we will miss you. However, for Eve's sake--please be a slacker! And have lots of fun....
As far as being "sensitive" or "touchy"--well, what can I say....? I hate being called a "slacker", and I don't think that I am one. Therein lies my "sensitivity". I am a scientist at heart, and philosophical discussions are not my forte.
According to one source, the opposite of "entropy" is "negentropy". This was proposed by Nobel prize winner, Mr. Schrodinger. He says a low entropy means order and a high entropy means chaos. So to get to the orderly state, you should lower an entropy by getting negentropy....
However, "profound truth" in my mind is not named "entropy", as you say it is. Entropy is a kind of chaos, with the opposite being a clarity (ahh--clarify) or an order. The opposite of profound truth would be much harder to define in one word. However, it is more than order or lack of chaos. It is reality? Sometimes there is not one word for abstractions. This may be the case--unless you have one?
You are scientist first ? Be a "systemic" one, a "thermodynamic" one, a "cybernetic" one ! But somewhere ... philosopher too !
NEGENTROPY is the exact "scientific" opposite of ENTROPY, that's right, but on the axis NegEntropy <---> Entropy, let's observe the essential : "the second law of thermodynamics". That is, this inexorable oriented growing : NegEntropy >>>> Entropy. These opposite are not "symmetrical opposites" like ... hmm ... high/low or left/right, but "oriented opposite" as order/desorder or construct/destroy, ... "oriented opposite" like ... (I dare an image) upstream/downstream for a salmon swimming in the current.
Some best concise english definitions are on PRINCIPIA CYBERNETICA
1 - NEGENTROPY
A non-recommendable near synonym for information. The term has created considerable confusion suggesting that information processes negate the second law of thermodynamics by producing order from chaos. The history of the confusion stems from the mere formal analogy between Boltzmann's thermodynamic expression for entropy S = k log W and the Shannon-Wiener expression for information H = -log_2 pa. The only motivation for the negative sign in the latter is that it yields positive information quantities (the logarithm of a probability is always negative).
The probability p of an event a and the thermodynamic value W including Boltzmann's constant k measure entirely different phenomena. A meaningful interpretation of negentropy is that it measures the complexity of a physical structure in which quantities of energy are invested, e.g., buildings, technical devices, organisms but also atomic reactor fuel, the infrastructure of a society. In this sense organisms may be said to become more complex by feeding not on energy but on negentropy (Schroedinger). (Krippendorff)
2 - ENTROPY
Unavailable energy or molecular disorder. Entropy is at a maximum when the molecules in a gas are at the same energy level. Entropy should not be confused with uncertainty. Uncertainty is at a minimum when all elements are in the same category. (Umpleby)
See statistical entropy, a measure of variation, dispersion or diversity; see thermodynamic entropy, a measure of usable energy. The similarity between the two types of entropy is merely formal in that both are expressed as the logarithm of a probability. The thermodynamic entropy S = k log W is a function of the dispersion W of heat, with k being Boltzmann's CONSTANT. The statistical entropy of an event a is H_a = -k log p_a where p_a is the statistical probability of a and k is arbitrarily set so as to make the logarithm dual (see bit). The negative sign gave rise to the notion of negentropy (Material entropy see pollution, social entropy). (Krippendorff)
.../... Sorry !
So, now, the taxeme I'm looking for, is somewhere between Entropy and NegEntropy, in the direction of NegEntropy because facing upstream the Entropy current, but is only the taxeme that gather all words that share the same fighting challenge : to clarify, to elucidate, to filter, to skim, to sift, to sieve, to clean, to order, to polish, ...etc and which results are so clear, clean, pellucid, transparent and sometimes "pure", even if it is about materials, ideas, or ... mysteries !
I'm sure you'll have many fascinating propositions, and the board too !
Scientist and philosophic ones, even poetic ones !?
So long !
De tiempo, dispénseme !
Now, we're getting a bit technical, aren't we?
[This message was edited by Kalleh on Sat Sep 21st, 2002 at 0:14.]