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Tea room discussion[edit]


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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Tea room.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.

Are verb senses 1 and 2 really distinct? I ask because they don't really seem separate to me, and this word is slated to be WOTD on the 30th. --EncycloPetey 15:09, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

They don't really seem separate to me, either. —RuakhTALK 17:01, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
They seem distinguishable. One is earn by dint of effort; the other by mere accumulation. Think the difference between earning a sales commission vs a dole check. There is also an intransitive sense of "accumulate". It needs a little help on the etymology, ultimately descending from granarium, I believe. DCDuring TALK 17:33, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
The "media" reference in the usage example and in the sense seems gratuitous and, if we do nothing, will garner us (accumulate for us) unwanted negative reviews from those who look at WotD. Our efforts to improve the entry will garner (earn) us the worship of millions, well, scores anyway. DCDuring TALK 17:39, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

I think there's a requisite sense of "earning" or "gathering". Garner wouldn't apply to a case of "accumulation by no effort". If someone can give me an example of someone garnering a dole check or a rock wall garnering moss, you can prove me wrong. The non-grain senses are really only figurative and invoke reaping and harvesting. I do think there's two senses here -- the first figurative sense to "gather, amass, hoard, acquire", and a further extension to "earn; recieve in recognition of some effort" (leaving out any sense of 'passive accumulation'). So, the first extension is plain ("to gather as if harvesting grain"), and the second sense is a further metaphor with the thing one has accomplished metaphorically doing the harvesting. -- Thisis0 18:22, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Even the media example does not imply effort. Failure to try can garner you the disapproval of the industrious. Longman's DCE has the sole sense as collect or store, not earn. MW3 includes both effortful and non-effortful accumulation. RfV it if you feel it is wrong. DCDuring TALK 18:49, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Wait, wait. Don't you see? It's the same -- just confusing because it's a doubly-extended metaphor sense. It's still some achievement, action, (or inaction as an action itself) that is doing the garnering. The 'failure' is doing the garnering -- the 'failure' metaphorically reaps, amasses the disapproval. It's not a passive sense. Also, notice you used garner with an indirect object, illuminating the existence of the second sense. The 'failure to try' garners you the 'disapproval'. What is the quote from MW3 that you think implies non-effortful accumulation? -- Thisis0 19:05, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
Of course. But I note that dictionaries find it worthwhile to separate the senses. There are many words that have only an active sense and many that have only an inactive sense. This has both, which is worth knowing. Inaction as an action is not really a common-sense approach to defining words for ordinary people. Mathematicians and logicians think that way, not normal folks during an average day. I am reminded of the economists who refer to interest earnings as the reward from the sweat of waiting. Not very many non-economists find that apt. DCDuring TALK 19:31, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
No. I think the inaction as an action argument is important. For example, it is the basis to distinguish between don't have to and mustn't, or between didn't need to and needn't have. It is an essential part of meaning in English. Thisis0 is correct when he defines failure to do as an activity. Even the grammar of the present perfect insists that I haven't (done) s/t for years. means the activity of not doing continues from the past to the present time. -- Algrif 12:03, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
That's true. What is the implication for deleting the given sense of garner?
"Win", for example, has a sense of earn, but does not have a sense of inactive accumulation. I would think that we would not want to fail to make it clear that "garner" can be used in this way that "win" cannot. DCDuring TALK 13:27, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
That sounds more like an important usage note to me than a definition. --EncycloPetey 13:32, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
Why are we economizing on senses in words that have few? We are far short of the unabridgeds in showing nuances of meaning. And yet we tout the advantages of our limitless capacity. If we put meaning distinctions in a usage note, then they are not available for translations, synonyms, antonyms, etc. DCDuring TALK 14:24, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Ok. let's slow down a minute. I don't want to remove the second sense. I have no idea how you thought I did 5 comments up. If anything, I want to explain it properly (and simply). I realize that it seems passive in some rare cases, but it's always making a choice like inaction that can garner you disapproval or anything else. There's a difference between that and "a rock garnering moss" or "someone garnering a welfare check", both of which uses I think would not apply. One could say "School! Dropping out of high school garnered me a steady stream of dole checks." -BUT- I am saying garner would not apply in: "I sat around garnering dole checks". There is a grammatical/etymological necessity of an action. Something has to do the garnering, which always has a root sense of "actively gather, amass, store away", metaphorical or not. I'll lay out what I think the multiple verb senses are.

  1. (literal) reap, harvest, store grain in a granary.
  2. (extension) gather, amass, hoard.
    "...its fleet went out to garner in the elusive but highly succulent fish.
    I walked enormous distances...garnering thoughts even from the heather.
    He garnered the fruit of his studies in seven volumes.
  3. (figurative) get, acquire, earn.
    He garnered a reputation as a language expert.
    Her new book garnered high praise from the critics.
    This country will never forget nor fail to honor those who have so courageously garnered our highest regard.
    President Roosevelt garnered the support of our working men and women... (notice implication of "gather" as well as "acquire, earn")
  4. (figurative) (of an achievement, object, event, choice, etc.) to earn, reap (for someone).
    Failure to try can garner you the disapproval of the industrious.
    His poor choices garnered him a steady stream of welfare checks.
    The new book garnered the author high praise from the critics.

Certainly some of this could be economized/merged, but in light of this conversation, I think we should fill it out. I have some doubt about how to properly address my sense #4 (the metaphorical that takes a indirect object). If anyone has thoughts, spit 'em. Primarily, I don't want to use the word accumulate that is currently in the entry, because of it's sometimes passive connotation. Again, I hold that this verb is never truly passive in the way accumulate sometimes is. -- Thisis0 17:16, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

The presence of an indirect object in sense "4" simply result for the fact that the verb is not acting reflexively. In the examples for sense "3", one could add himself or itself as an indirect object without changing the meaning, so sense "3" simply has the I.O. implied rather than explicitly given. It is not really different from "He earned a paycheck." and "Steady work earned him a paycheck." It's close to being an active/passive difference, but not quite. If this were a discussion about a Classical language, I'd say this was the difference between the active and middle voice. --EncycloPetey 17:53, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
Ok, so you're saying ditching the 4th sense? Any way you want to separate/recognize it as the figurative/metaphorical of inanimate things doing the garnering? -- Thisis0 18:00, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
I'm not saying ditch or keep at this point, because I'm not sure how often we make this sort of distinction in English entries. Another verb that does this is fry: "He fried some chips." versus "The chips fried in the oil." The difference is that in this case there is a transitive/intransitive distinction based on the presence or absence of a direct object, whereas garner is transitive in both cases and has the presence or absence of an indirect object. That's because this is not an active/passive difference, but rather an active/middle difference. This is an unusual situation, and I've not made up my mind how I think it ought to be handled. --EncycloPetey 18:07, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
I was focused on the original two comments and the merger of senses. I agree with almost all of what you say. I am not yet 100% convinced on the very last point. Dictionaries present accumulate as a synonym. Even accumulate and amass imply a level of activity, albeit at the same level of intensity as clipping coupons.
This still being April, I am drawn to think of the IRS "garnering" checks from voluntary compliance by US taxpayers. The separation in time between what it is that earns what is garnered and the actual garnering itself is what I would like to draw your attention to. Also there is a potential for what is garnered to be the result of luck, genetic endowment, trust fund, etc. Perhaps in all of these cases, there is an element of irony, like the "sweat of waiting". I need to find some citations for the usage I have in mind.
Also, MW3 shows an intransitive sense "to become stored", citing Tennyson. DCDuring TALK 18:19, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
Citations:garner has a few illustrations of fairly passive "garnering". DCDuring TALK 19:01, 28 April 2008 (UTC)
EP's example of fry works that way because it is an ergative verb and is categorised as such. I'm not sure that garner would fit that category though. -- Algrif 10:10, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
If we can take seriously Tennyson's "wrath that garners in my heart", then "garner"'s intransitive sense of accumulate would meet the requirements for being ergative. DCDuring TALK 10:45, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
(The OED mark this sense as {{rare}}, and Tennyson is their only citation. Widsith 13:54, 29 April 2008 (UTC))


This seems to be an archaic/literary word revived as Timese in the 1930s and still mainly an Americanism and journalese. See corpus statistics :

British vs American
Corpus Spoken Fiction Magazine Newspaper Academic
COCA 3.21 1.59 4.29 10.41 4.38
BNC 0.40 0.38 1.93 4.78 0.78
Corpus 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
Time - 8.64 41.24 10.61 4.05 5.41 5.96 3.34 5.14 15.09
COHA 0.70 2.96 13.78 2.92 0.94 2.92 1.60 3.36 2.29 5.07

Jnestorius 15:14, 24 September 2011 (UTC)