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I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

Mind that apostrophe.
Maylix
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I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337830

Postby Maylix » September 3rd, 2020, 9:31 am

Hi Pedants,
If my hubby suggested 3 different models for a new car, and I said 'I'm ambivalent between those three options', I would mean that I don't have a preference. But 1) am I using the word ambivalent correctly and 2) if I'm not, what would the man on the Clapham omnibus think I meant?
TIA
Maylix

swill453
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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337839

Postby swill453 » September 3rd, 2020, 9:50 am

I think it's commonly used to mean I don't care or have a preference, but the dictionary meaning is a bit more nuanced, "having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone".

Scott.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337840

Postby Urbandreamer » September 3rd, 2020, 9:53 am

I don't live in Clapham, but think that you are using the word wrongly.

I'd say that you could be ambivalent about any or indeed each and all of the choices. However I believe that it doesn't mean not having a preference but both liking and disliking. Hence attributable to each of the options.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337847

Postby Mike4 » September 3rd, 2020, 10:17 am

I think you can only be ambivalent about a pair of options. It means (to me) that you favour neither of a pair of possibilities. Or more particularly, that you do not feel strongly about either of them. The focus is on there being two options specifically.

If there are three options, a different word would needed. In electronics 'bivalent' means 'in one or the other of two possible states'. If there were three or more possible states, the term used would be 'multi-valent'.

So with your three cars none of which you care much about, I think the non-existent word you need is "amtrivalent". :?

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337849

Postby scrumpyjack » September 3rd, 2020, 10:22 am

The meaning of words often changes over time and moves away from their literal meaning.

For example, historically, the word 'decimate' meant to cut by one tenth. As in decimate a legion, where one tenth of a mutinous or cowardly legion would be put to death.

Now decimate is often used to mean destroying a large proportion.

swill453
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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337853

Postby swill453 » September 3rd, 2020, 10:31 am

Maylix wrote:Hi Pedants,
If my hubby suggested 3 different models for a new car, and I said 'I'm ambivalent between those three options', I would mean that I don't have a preference. But 1) am I using the word ambivalent correctly and 2) if I'm not, what would the man on the Clapham omnibus think I meant?

So I think the strict answers are:
1) No.
2) As long as the man on this bus isn't being an awkward git, he'd think you meant you didn't have a preference.

How did your husband interpret it?

Scott.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337872

Postby Watis » September 3rd, 2020, 11:01 am

scrumpyjack wrote:The meaning of words often changes over time and moves away from their literal meaning.

For example, historically, the word 'decimate' meant to cut by one tenth. As in decimate a legion, where one tenth of a mutinous or cowardly legion would be put to death.

Now decimate is often used to mean destroying a large proportion.


And don't get me started on 'fulsome'!

Whenever a politician or other worthy offers their 'fulsome apologies' for some cock-up or other, it's abundantly clear they misunderstand the meaning of the word!

In this context, it suggests the apologies are exaggerated and insincere - the opposite of what the speaker intended.

Watis

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337875

Postby servodude » September 3rd, 2020, 11:06 am

Maylix wrote:Hi Pedants,
If my hubby suggested 3 different models for a new car, and I said 'I'm ambivalent between those three options', I would mean that I don't have a preference. But 1) am I using the word ambivalent correctly and 2) if I'm not, what would the man on the Clapham omnibus think I meant?
TIA
Maylix


I reckon you're "indifferent" about the options and possibly "ambivalent" about any given one of them

I've never been to Clapham (that I remember) so I couldn't possibly comment about how they on public transport that way might feel

-sd

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337892

Postby GoSeigen » September 3rd, 2020, 11:54 am

servodude wrote:
Maylix wrote:Hi Pedants,
If my hubby suggested 3 different models for a new car, and I said 'I'm ambivalent between those three options', I would mean that I don't have a preference. But 1) am I using the word ambivalent correctly and 2) if I'm not, what would the man on the Clapham omnibus think I meant?
TIA
Maylix


I reckon you're "indifferent" about the options and possibly "ambivalent" about any given one of them

I've never been to Clapham (that I remember) so I couldn't possibly comment about how they on public transport that way might feel

-sd


Indeed, if you're ambivalent you're pulled in different directions about the choice and can't decide. If you're indifferent you really don't care about the choice and are happy whatever the outcome.

https://wikidiff.com/indifferent/ambivalent

GS

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337894

Postby GoSeigen » September 3rd, 2020, 11:58 am

scrumpyjack wrote:The meaning of words often changes over time and moves away from their literal meaning.

For example, historically, the word 'decimate' meant to cut by one tenth. As in decimate a legion, where one tenth of a mutinous or cowardly legion would be put to death.

Now decimate is often used to mean destroying a large proportion.


I think it is more often used to mean "devastate -- but I can't remember that word and would like to use a fancy-sounding word whose meaning I don't quite know."

GS

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337900

Postby Mike4 » September 3rd, 2020, 12:18 pm

GoSeigen wrote:
Indeed, if you're ambivalent you're pulled in different directions about the choice and can't decide. If you're indifferent you really don't care about the choice and are happy whatever the outcome.

https://wikidiff.com/indifferent/ambivalent

GS


This is a very good point.

I used to say I am ambivalent about Brexit, because I understand the arguments on both sides and I agree wholeheartedly with all of them.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337904

Postby Maylix » September 3rd, 2020, 12:32 pm

swill453 wrote:
Maylix wrote:Hi Pedants,
If my hubby suggested 3 different models for a new car, and I said 'I'm ambivalent between those three options', I would mean that I don't have a preference. But 1) am I using the word ambivalent correctly and 2) if I'm not, what would the man on the Clapham omnibus think I meant?

So I think the strict answers are:
1) No.
2) As long as the man on this bus isn't being an awkward git, he'd think you meant you didn't have a preference.

How did your husband interpret it?

Scott.


Thanks Scott. The consensus seems to be with you on 1), and on reflection I agree. I should have used indifferent.
As for how my husband interpreted it, it's slightly more complicated :
In my (hypothetical!) example, we both liked model 1, then I said 'if you prefer a longer wheel base how about model 2 or model 3?' He then tries to convince me that there is no advantage in model 2's longer wheel base because blah, blah, blah,and that's when I said to him,
'You don't need to convince me, it's you that wanted the longer wheel base, I'm ambivalent between the 3 models'
A day later he turns up with a 4th model which I definitely don't like and says 'Well you said you were ambivalent.....' :x :x
I made him take it back.
Maylix

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337907

Postby GrahamPlatt » September 3rd, 2020, 12:36 pm

https://www.etymonline.com/word/ambivalence

I have always thought of it in the sense of "being in two minds" about something. Probably because of the "bi" (two) in there.
So if you'd have simply said "I'm ambivalent",that, to my thinking would be correct. But "between the three of them" sort of muddies the water.
Had you said "I'm ambivalent about the three of them", then I think you'd have been on safe ground.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337911

Postby swill453 » September 3rd, 2020, 12:42 pm

Maylix wrote:... and says 'Well you said you were ambivalent.....' :x :x
I made him take it back.

If he'd said "Well you said you were indifferent..." he'd still have been in the wrong :-)

I don't think your choice of word was the problem.

Scott.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337925

Postby UncleEbenezer » September 3rd, 2020, 2:07 pm

Has it not been a married woman's prerogative to use the wrong word since the days of Mrs Malaprop?

My late mother caused great hilarity when she was travelling across Europe by train (before the era of cheap air travel) and was going to indulge by booking herself the luxury of a courgette for overnight. We wondered if there might be something of the symbolism of the broomstick! In her defence, English wasn't her native language.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337931

Postby scrumpyjack » September 3rd, 2020, 2:54 pm

I recall a friend of my brother was staying with an Italian family when he was about 18 to improve his Italian.

The mother, father and 2 teenage daughters were also at the dinner table and of course the conversation turned to his family.
Unfortunately his Italian wasn't very good and he got the word for 'parents' wrong. He should have referred to his 'genitori' but mistakenly said 'genitali'

Whoops, his hosts all collapsed in uncontrollable laughter!

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337978

Postby UncleEbenezer » September 3rd, 2020, 7:48 pm

scrumpyjack wrote:I recall a friend of my brother was staying with an Italian family when he was about 18 to improve his Italian.

The mother, father and 2 teenage daughters were also at the dinner table and of course the conversation turned to his family.
Unfortunately his Italian wasn't very good and he got the word for 'parents' wrong. He should have referred to his 'genitori' but mistakenly said 'genitali'

Whoops, his hosts all collapsed in uncontrollable laughter!


Hehe.

But was it accidental or deliberate? Being a foreigner is a great excuse, and a well-placed howler can generate hilarity all round: you have more-than-plausible deniability of nuances that might ordinarily cause offence or embarrassment. In my time in Italy I progressed from ignorant mistakes to conscious ones.

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#337999

Postby AleisterCrowley » September 3rd, 2020, 10:23 pm

I've always understood ambivalent to mean mixed feelings about one thing, so you could like option 1, hate option 2, and be ambivalent about option 3.
I reckon you will get away with it though, as long as you don't use the word 'dilemma'

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Re: I'm Ambivalent...or maybe not!

#338086

Postby UncleEbenezer » September 4th, 2020, 12:41 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote:I've always understood ambivalent to mean mixed feelings about one thing, so you could like option 1, hate option 2, and be ambivalent about option 3.
I reckon you will get away with it though, as long as you don't use the word 'dilemma'


But it is a dilemma! The choice of expressing an opinion she doesn't have vs saying nothing and disappointing/failing to support hubby.

Either way, she could be in for some blame when hubby regrets his choice. :?


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