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vava
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 8:52:07 AM
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Like many plans in Russia, the coup plotters' conceit went awry fast. Their abortive putsch only hastened the collapse of communist rule and the breakup of the world's biggest country.

Witness: A failed coup and a difficult start for Russia
Steve Gutterman, Reuters






I would like to ask you whether the meaning of conceit in this context is somehow connected to this sense: An ingenious or witty turn of phrase or thought?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:00:14 AM

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not clever or witty - in this meaning (ie not the meaning of conceit as arrogance) it means an idea, a concept. Here it would mean what they planned to happen and to put in place, quickly went wrong.

Often is is making a judgement that the idea was too much thought and not enough reality, that it is not the simplist idea.


eg, in reviewing a play:
the central conceit of the play is that the characters are all....etc

vava
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:49:55 AM
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Is it rather archaic, as the Collins dictionary says?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 10:13:37 AM

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Not archaic, exactly. It would be perfectly understood in context. Erudite, maybe!

eg The Irish Times, 13 May 2011

Quote:

YOU WAIT AN age for a film in which a swimming pool stands as a metaphor for national decline, then two arrive in as many weeks.
...
Following the reissue of Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End , Mahamat- Saleh Haroun’s Chadian picture provides an even more slippery – somewhat too slippery perhaps – variation on this unlikely trope.
Shooting in blank, unhurried style, Haroun, director of the acclaimed Abouna and Darratt, draws touchingly nuanced performances from actors whose features seem atrophied by the governing oppression. There is, however, a nagging problem with the central conceit. At times, the small drama of pool politics seems like an overly literal allegory for the greater confusion. At others, it’s hard to understand exactly what questions we are being asked.
vil
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:04:49 AM
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conceit = arrogance, assumption, cockiness, complacency,egoism, pride, self-conceit, self-importance, self-satisfaction, swagger, vanity

V.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:11:03 AM

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not in this instance. There are two separate paths -
original form:
conceit / conceive / conception - have an idea

archaic form:
self-conceit - your idea of yourself

this then became limited to having a good opinion of yourself, and simplfied to:
conceit / conceited - arrogant, self-important

but still the meanging of the noun remains a conceit, an idea, a notion.
but also means a nasty character trait of thinking you are better than other people.

luckily, it is usually clear which meaning is meant!
vava
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 4:30:24 PM
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vil wrote:
conceit = arrogance, assumption, cockiness, complacency,egoism, pride, self-conceit, self-importance, self-satisfaction, swagger, vanity

V.



You are not helping me at all.
jmacann
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 6:26:03 PM
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It is not always easy to establish the meaning, as senses tend to overlap; whether duly or not, that is another matter.
Jezikoslovac
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 6:33:03 PM
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Quote:
I would like to ask you whether the meaning of conceit in this context is somehow connected to this sense: An ingenious or witty turn of phrase or thought?


The definition from the quote here is for the other meaning of conceit, used in poetry (see John Donne for example)

MrH
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 7:43:21 PM
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vava wrote:
vil wrote:
conceit = arrogance, assumption, cockiness, complacency,egoism, pride, self-conceit, self-importance, self-satisfaction, swagger, vanity

V.



You are not helping me at all.



Like many plans in Russia, the coup plotters'

conceit went awry fast.


conceit = prideful arrogance

Simply substitute any of those words (kudos to vil) in the sentence and perhaps it may take a different light.

A fine wine is not sloshed back, rather it is allowed to linger just long enough to capture a sense of it's true flavors.

excaelis
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:15:51 PM

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From The Princeton Encyclopedia Of Poetry And Poetics :

Conceit : An intricate or far-fetched metaphor, which functions through arousung feelings of surprise, shock, or amusement ; in earlier usage, the imagination or fancy in general. The term is derived from the Italian concetto ( concept ).....

As thar said, the word when used in this sense has gained the meaning of an overthought/contrived/needlessly complex central idea. In modern theatre criticism its use is often the harbinger of a bad review.

It is in this sense that it has been used in this example. The more common meaning as thesaurised by vil is what The Oxford Dictionary Of Etymology in its definition terms a sense-development : from fanciful opinion ( Eng. XV ) to arrogance.
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 9:23:50 PM

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This is tricky -- and a good example of a poor choice of words -- because either the etymological sense of "conception" or the derived sense of "presumption" equally apply. Perhaps it was intended to mean that both the conspirators' conception and their expectation of success were ill-founded.

I have cited this selection as a poor choice of words, and I stand by that appraisal. It is poor because one does not expect creative language from a journalist, but rather clarity and impartiality, or at the very least a frank acknowledgment of the author's biases.

edited to correct grammatical errors Anxious
MTC
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 10:29:38 PM
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This marks the first time I have seen the word conceit used outside the worlds of academia and literary criticism. As excaelis pointed out, a conceit (in the way it was employed in the passage) is an extended metaphor: for example, the poet John Donne famously stretched out the comparison of two lovers with two compasses over several stanzas in A Valediction Forbidding Mourning. What does this have to do with Russian coup plotters foiled plans, you may well ask? Nothing, really. The author was apparently attempting to say the plotters' elaborate plans went awry. Instead of elaborate plans, however, he substituted the word conceit which means elaborate metaphor. Metaphors are not plans; they are comparisons. He got the elaborate part right and the metaphor part wrong. Probably, he was trying to impress his readers with an artsy term, but instead just ended up confusing them. Ah, the showoffs of the world! None of them around here, right?
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:05:55 PM

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MTC wrote:
This marks the first time I have seen the word conceit used outside the worlds of academia and literary criticism. As excaelis pointed out, a conceit (in the way it was employed in the passage) is an extended metaphor: for example, the poet John Donne famously stretched out the comparison of two lovers with two compasses over several stanzas in A Valediction Forbidding Mourning. What does this have to do with Russian coup plotters foiled plans, you may well ask? Nothing, really. The author was apparently attempting to say the plotters' elaborate plans went awry. Instead of elaborate plans, however, he substituted the word conceit which means elaborate metaphor. Metaphors are not plans; they are comparisons. He got the elaborate part right and the metaphor part wrong. Probably, he was trying to impress his readers with an artsy term, but instead just ended up confusing them. Ah, the showoffs of the world! None of them around here, right?


You and I seem to be on the same page with this one.

In plain language, it's right naff.
Dancing
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:21:32 PM

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If I were the editor of this piece, I would have suggested "gambit" as a much better word than "conceit".
excaelis
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:25:25 PM

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I'm not so sure that it was a poor choice for the writer. It compresses several nuances into a very compact expression. Unfortunately, it speaks to a rather narrow audience; I had no problem understanding his meaning, but then I'm familiar with the word from my wasted years in academia. I would agree that to a general audience this usage is a little recherche. ( Pretentious, moi ?)
excaelis
Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 11:29:30 PM

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Oh, and if he was really trying to impress he could have used ' agley ' instead of the commonplace ' awry '. Bloody Philistine !
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 1:14:02 AM

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excaelis wrote:
I'm not so sure that it was a poor choice for the writer. It compresses several nuances into a very compact expression. Unfortunately, it speaks to a rather narrow audience; I had no problem understanding his meaning, but then I'm familiar with the word from my wasted years in academia. I would agree that to a general audience this usage is a little recherche. ( Pretentious, moi ?)


I would argue that it is a poor choice of words because it introduces ambiguity where clarity ought to be preferred. I agree with you that skillful use of language is a good thing, and that intentionally presenting a complex idea without the appropriate nuance is weak. The presentation of complexity with clarity does not require oversimplification nor ambiguous speech. A competent writer can express information with just enough detail to communicate that information to a competent reader.

A link to the original "article" might be in order.

As you yourself observe, "it speaks to a rather narrow audience", which implies that it does not speak to anglophones at large. For a service that purports to provide verifiable information, I would assert that this article is evidence of a serious deficiency, perhaps even dereliction.

Please, your years spent in academia could only be considered wasted insofar as the experience which you gained therefrom has been ill-applied. Drool

The conceit evidenced by your conceit of the word "recherche" as a conceit for the word "unintelligible" has been noted.

Es-ce que tu a des prétentions?
Mais non, mon cher, pas de tout!
Drool
thar
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 3:33:48 AM

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excaelis wrote:
Oh, and if he was really trying to impress he could have used ' agley ' instead of the commonplace ' awry '. Bloody Philistine !


Was this a Scottish communist coup, ex?

as for pretentious -

To find a modern example and prove 'concept' conceit is not archaic, I googled 'central conceit' because I thought it would narrow it down, because it always seems to come conjoined - which in itself is lazy and derivative!

I had no problem understanding the conceit, but I would not have understood the 'trope' without context!

Pretentious - oui!

But what the heck, it is all good!!

[trope -
1. A figure of speech using words in nonliteral ways, such as a metaphor.
2. A word or phrase interpolated as an embellishment in the sung parts of certain medieval liturgies.]
NancyUK
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 7:28:40 AM
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It seems to me that thar's explanation and excaelis' additions are correct. I see nothing archaic or poetic in this use of the word - I have come across it more than a few times, being used in this sense. I'm not any kind of expert, just reasonably well-read.

I can understand it is sometimes difficult for a non-English speaker to pick the correct definition out from a list when there are many different uses for a word - but to some of the "contibutions" from the native AE or BE speakers, all I can say is tut, tut.Whistle

In this case it seems clear that the word is being used as follows (from TFD definition):

con·ceit n.
4. b. A fanciful thought or idea.

So from the short clip provided (news sites are blocked from here) the writer is saying that the plan was a fanciful idea, not something that would work in reality.

Peripheral point:
I hope you know excaelis well, leonAzul, to be addressing him(?) with the familiar tu.Eh?
MTC
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 1:53:54 PM
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To NancyUK: Reasonable minds can differ over the author’s use of the word conceit. I find the author’s use strained, but you made a good point about conceit as “A fanciful thought or idea.” Still, the author’s use is unclear enough to stir a debate in educated circles—this one in particular. It is my impression that most of the TFD posters have college, graduate or professional degrees, or they are intelligent self-educated people. Every day I learn something from them.

What I take exception to is not your interpretation of conceit , but your use of “scare quotes” or “sneer quotes” when referring to the “contributions” of other posters with whom you disagree. As I expect someone of your wide reading will recognize, “scare” and “sneer” quotes are used to indicate scorn, sarcasm or irony. Adding “tut-tut” with emoticons just adds to the image of a scolding contemptuous schoolmaster, though you admit you are "not any kind of expert." If you want to be shown respect, I hope you learn to show respect for others. Perhaps this was an "off" day for you?
Romany
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2011 11:24:25 PM
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For this one I'm going to take off my academic hat and put on my journalistic one. (Well, it's a cap actually. Turned around backwards an' all.)

Leon said that one doesn't expect creative language from a journalist, and others agreed it was a poor choice of words - I don't agree. On both counts.

Reading the article in full it becomes obvious that the writer is not yer common-or-garden "Boy Battles Bullies" journo, but is using the Correspondant-speak so beloved of Reuters in his article. The kinds of articles which then pop up in Time, or the Sunday Paper pull outs. Directed at a particular demographic.

There are different types of journalistic reporting and, of course, different kinds of writers performing these jobs. I'm pretty sure Leon and others didn't mean that all journalistic writing, across the board, should eschew writing that doesn't dumb down to the lowest common denominator? Because that, surely, would be the logical outcome?

"Oh, the humanity!" rings down the decades still but has nothing to do with clarity nor impartiality.

Actually, my eye slid over the use of the disputed word the first time, so it didn't leap off the page as unsuitable. He's used other words ('dogged') and phrases "showed his mettle", "groomed lawns" (yeah, o.k., maybe a little cliched, but definitely not fitting in the 'clarity and impartiality' bracket, either.)which might also cause confusion to an L2 speaker. However, in the context of the kind of article written, and the intended target audience, his choice of words seem to be to be consistent.

He used coup d'etat, putsch, and plain old coup a few times. "Conceit", as an alternative, strikes me as being unremarkable. Like one or two others, I really don't see it as a poetic or fanciful use. Nor have I ever considered it archaic.

The beauty, to me, of the English language, and having a mastery of it, is knowing that, somewhere, there lurks exactly the right word for any contingency. I don't think journalists, any more than any other kind of genre writer, should be discouraged from diggin them out.
NancyUK
Posted: Friday, August 19, 2011 8:19:43 AM
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MTC wrote:
To NancyUK: Reasonable minds can differ over the author’s use of the word conceit. I find the author’s use strained, but you made a good point about conceit as “A fanciful thought or idea.” Still, the author’s use is unclear enough to stir a debate in educated circles—this one in particular. It is my impression that most of the TFD posters have college, graduate or professional degrees, or they are intelligent self-educated people. Every day I learn something from them.

What I take exception to is not your interpretation of conceit , but your use of “scare quotes” or “sneer quotes” when referring to the “contributions” of other posters with whom you disagree. As I expect someone of your wide reading will recognize, “scare” and “sneer” quotes are used to indicate scorn, sarcasm or irony. Adding “tut-tut” with emoticons just adds to the image of a scolding contemptuous schoolmaster, though you admit you are "not any kind of expert." If you want to be shown respect, I hope you learn to show respect for others. Perhaps this was an "off" day for you?


MTC

I agree that reasonable people can differ in their interpretation, and I have no problem with informed debate. My point was one that has been made on TFD by others before me - that it is a shame when thoughtful, well-reasoned and fully explained replies are followed by off-the-cuff posts that set the thread back, by confusing the issue rather than helping.

It is always a bit more difficult to communicate one's intentions in writing, when tone of voice and expression are lost, than in direct speech. I put the word contributions in quotes - which were not intended as “scare quotes” or “sneer quotes” as you called them - just to mildly point out that some of the later posts were less than helpful in contributing to the discussion. Tut-tut is the most gentle reproof - and most people accept that the use of emoticons is intended to show that one is not being seriously disapproving. I also carefully refrained from directing this mild point at any poster/s in particular (incidentally, your post was not among those that I had in mind).

When responding to a post on TFD, I usually begin by researching the words myself to be sure I start from an informed position. I was using the quotation marks as follows (from TFD);

quotation mark n.
Either of a pair of punctuation marks used primarily to mark the beginning and end of a passage attributed to another and repeated word for word, but also to indicate meanings or glosses and to indicate the unusual or dubious status of a word. They appear in the form of double quotation marks (" ") and single quotation marks (' '). Single quotation marks are usually reserved for setting off a quotation within another quotation.

So, these quotes expressed exactly what I meant, that I thought that some of the posts were dubious "contributions".

If posts that one believes to be incorrect or misguided are left unquestioned, then how can the learners of English or others who are trying to increase their understanding, possibly know what to make of the answers?

Finally, let me say that it was not my intention to offend you or anyone else, and as I have obviously done so, I can only apologise.
MTC
Posted: Friday, August 19, 2011 10:12:58 AM
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Apology accepted.
leonAzul
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 12:38:29 AM

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Romany wrote:

There are different types of journalistic reporting and, of course, different kinds of writers performing these jobs. I'm pretty sure Leon and others didn't mean that all journalistic writing, across the board, should eschew writing that doesn't dumb down to the lowest common denominator? Because that, surely, would be the logical outcome?

"Oh, the humanity!" rings down the decades still but has nothing to do with clarity nor impartiality.

Actually, my eye slid over the use of the disputed word the first time, so it didn't leap off the page as unsuitable. He's used other words ('dogged') and phrases "showed his mettle", "groomed lawns" (yeah, o.k., maybe a little cliched, but definitely not fitting in the 'clarity and impartiality' bracket, either.)which might also cause confusion to an L2 speaker. However, in the context of the kind of article written, and the intended target audience, his choice of words seem to be to be consistent.

He used coup d'etat, putsch, and plain old coup a few times. "Conceit", as an alternative, strikes me as being unremarkable. Like one or two others, I really don't see it as a poetic or fanciful use. Nor have I ever considered it archaic.

The beauty, to me, of the English language, and having a mastery of it, is knowing that, somewhere, there lurks exactly the right word for any contingency. I don't think journalists, any more than any other kind of genre writer, should be discouraged from diggin them out.



Hear, hear!

That's a good point about the writer's style and typical role at Reuters. I'll admit that if I were more familiar with his work, I would be in a better position to appreciate and understand this article.

Your reference to the Hindenburg disaster brings up another good point. There is a difference between spoken and written language. Spoken language is expected to be more extemporary and reflective of the immediately shared context. Written language is expected to have undergone some sort of editorial process and to reflect a more deliberate choice of words.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:05:58 PM
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Leon -

OK, so I was probably cheating by throwing in Morrison's extemporare words - but you obviously got the point I was trying to make, so that's ok, I guess.

Yes, you're right, of course, there is a difference between spoken and written language - not the least being that one goes through an editing process. In fact I think we've had a thread on here discussing Sports Broadcasters who go out live to an audience and some of the mangled language that results.

However the point I was making was directly in response to "One does not expect creative language from a journalist" and the inference that his use of a particular word was somehow unprofessional and ambiguous.

I somehow get the idea that you don't hold members of the Fourth Estate in high esteem? But one up from door-to-door vacuum-cleaner salespeople, yeah? At least give us that!
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