When an English speaker is drowning in details that make the big picture hard to see, she might complain, “I can’t see the forest for the trees.”
image credit: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho (Flickr)
It’s an odd expression, partly ironic and partly humorous. When I hear it, I sometimes think of my sister, who, after moving from Indiana to Utah, complained that the mountains were getting in the way of her view. (Her tongue was firmly in her cheek… :-)
The expression also describes an important problem of software engineering–one that a lot of engineers don’t understand well enough. It’s a problem with generalization. Continue reading →
In this post, I’m going to offer more examples, so you see the breadth of their application.
Before I do, however, I can’t resist commenting a bit on the rationale for the name “marks”.
In linguistics, markedness is the idea that some values in a language’s conceptual or structural systems should be assumed, while others must be denoted explicitly through morphology, prosodics, structural adjustments, and so forth. Choices about markedness are inseparable from worldview and from imputed meaning. Two quick examples: Continue reading →