chaff (note, clarification, observation,...)

valdemar

Senior Member
Español mexicano
I'm reading a book about logic called "A friendly introduction to logic" by Leary, C. So here is this word 'chaff' that is used throughout the book. Essentially I understand its actual meaning as the 'scrap' (? how do you call it?) that is left when one is getting the grain of the crops. In this case the author uses this word almost each time that he finishes an explanation like giving something aditional (a note, clarification, etc.).

Example.
The author explains first the importance of the unicity of string of symbols. Like for instance that "gfx_1fx_2" in logic can be read having only one meaning, etc. Then, after doing this, he write "chaff: Unique redibility is one of those things that, in the opinion of the author, is important to know, interesting to prove, and boring to read. Thus the proof is place in the exercises."


Add: I wrote an example to clarify my context (thanks Paul).

But I don't quite understand why he is using this word. what is the relation with the actual meaning of the word? So, this is basically my context. I appreciate, as always, any comment related to this and also if this sense is used in other situations, or whether is a very uncommon use, etc.
 
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  • expenseroso

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    The most common usage of the word "chaff" is in the expression "separate the wheat from the chaff." I can only assume that the author is being humorous, labeling his notes as "chaff" rather than in a traditional manner.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree. He could have labeled them "side notes" or "tidbits" or "trivia" or "fluff". He probably chose "chaff" because they are not essential to the text. They can be thrown away in the same way that chaff is discarded.
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Thanks for the answers.

    Today I was talking with some friends at school and I haven't notice that in Spanish we use the word 'paja' (=chaff) in the sense of 'filling a talking with unecessary ideas, either because it's a presentation and we want to extend it to last more o maybe because we no longer have ideas to tell- whatever it is, this chaff can be thrown away and so have just the essentials of the talking '. I suppose that it's the same in English: 'separate the wheat from the chaff' would mean just to get the 'essentials' and yes I guess 'chaff' is humorous in this sense of not being essential to the text but it is there anyway just in case. So, just one last question, is this use of chaff common and idiomatic, meaning 'chaff=aditional unnecessary information'?
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    No, it is not common. It's normally used to mean "unnecessary" or "useless thing" rather than the way it's being used here, which is "incidental item." It seems pretty clear in context, though, so I don't see anything wrong with it.
     

    valdemar

    Senior Member
    Español mexicano
    Thanks, Kate. Then my conclusion is that in English 'separate the wheat from the chaff'= "separate the good from the bad", whereas in spanish it means "separate the essentials from the redundant".
     
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