explicit and articulate

GandalfMB

Senior Member
Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
Hello,
What is the difference between them when talking about a statement or a piece of writing? "Jim's statement was very articulate/explicit". I think that "explicit" means very clear and easy to understand. On the other hand, MacMillan says that "articulate = clear and easy to understand". Is there a certain amount of overlap? On the other hand, Oxford Advanced Learner's dictionary says "clearly expressed or pronounced (of speech)". I think that the two dictionaries are clashing :(.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The common use of the adjectives would be

    "Jim's statement was very articulate" = "Jim's statement was very clear and easy to understand."
    "Jim's statement was very explicit" = "Jim's statement spoke of sex, violence and/or drugs in frank, gruesome and unashamed detail."

    OED:
    explicit. 3. a. Of declarations, indications, utterances: Distinctly expressing all that is meant; leaving nothing merely implied or suggested; express.

    1856 J. A. Froude Hist. Eng. (1858) II. vii. 201 Promises more explicit had been held out to him of forgiveness.
    However, this definition has been broadly been overtaken by
    explicit. 3.b: Of a magazine, film, etc.: sexually explicit, that describes or portrays nudity or sexual activity.
    1986 Daily Tel. 3 Jan. 12/4 Michael O'Connor of Marine City, Michigan, complained that the connotation of ‘explicit’ is getting lost, especially when it is linked to certains [sic] nouns, such as ‘lyrics’. ‘Will this rich and expressive word have its meaning narrowed and inextricably entwined with sex, violence and drugs?’ he asked.
    That was in 1986, and Michael O'Connor of Marine City, Michigan, turned out to be correct.

    Avoid "explicit" unless using it with meaning 3.b.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Based upon previous misinformation from that source that we've seen here, my suggestion is that you throw Macmillan into the dung heap of misleading information.

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    articulateadj /ɑːˈtɪkjʊlɪt/
    • able to express oneself fluently and coherently: an articulate lecturer
    • having the power of speech
    • distinct, clear, or definite; well-constructed: an articulate voice, an articulate document
    • (of arthropods and higher vertebrates) possessing joints or jointed segments
    vb /ɑːˈtɪkjʊˌleɪt/
    • to speak or enunciate (words, syllables, etc) clearly and distinctly
    • (transitive) to express coherently in words

     
    With all due respect, I think you--Paul in post #2-- have greatly overstated the matter of 3a vs. 3b. 3a is quite common, and indeed that may be why it's 'a' and not a later letter. It's true many of these are quasilegal or legal, but it's common parlance.

    I would severely qualify you admonition: Paul:
    Avoid "explicit" unless using it with meaning 3.b.
    I would say.
    "When referring to a novel, work of art, film, etc, "explicit" usually will be understood to refer to sexual detail."

    There are tens of thousands of cases of 'explicit agreement' and similar terms ('explicit promise' as in your OED, 'explicit assurance', etc).

    http://www.ehow.com/info_8442299_differences-between-implicit-explicit-agreements.html

    Differences Between Implicit & Explicit Agreements | eHow
    www.ehow.com › Business‎
    If you tell your boss that you will submit the annual register to the accountant by 4:00 p.m., you have made an explicit agreement with your boss. You verbally
    http://library.ryerson.ca/copyright/policies-guidelines/electronic-resources-terms-of-use-2/
    Electronic Resources Terms of Use | Copyright
    library.ryerson.ca/copyright/policies.../electronic-resources-terms-of-use-...‎
    Where an explicit agreement is not required, by using the electronic resource you will have implicitly agreed to their posted licence or terms of use. You should ...
    ===
    Likewise there are tens of thousands of hits for "he was quite explicit"

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=yeyR0Ds6k58C&pg=PA332

    The Shaping of America: Atlantic America, 1492-1800, p. 332
    books.google.ca/books?isbn=0300038828

    Donald William Meinig - 1986 - ‎History

    He was quite explicit that the object was to counter influences from south of the border by "forming the Character, Temper, and Manners of the People of this ...
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Based upon previous misinformation from that source that we've seen here, my suggestion is that you throw Macmillan into the dung heap of misleading information.

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    articulateadj /ɑːˈtɪkjʊlɪt/
    • able to express oneself fluently and coherently: an articulate lecturer
    • having the power of speech
    • distinct, clear, or definite; well-constructed: an articulate voice, an articulate document
    • (of arthropods and higher vertebrates) possessing joints or jointed segments
    vb /ɑːˈtɪkjʊˌleɪt/
    • to speak or enunciate (words, syllables, etc) clearly and distinctly
    • (transitive) to express coherently in words

    Is MacMillan a bad dictionary, sdgraham :(?

    Thank you :)
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    With all due respect, I think you--Paul in post #2-- have greatly overstated the matter of 3a vs. 3b. 3a is quite common, and indeed that may be why it's 'a' and not a later letter. It's true many of these are quasilegal or legal, but it's common parlance.

    I would severely qualify you admonition: Paul:
    I would say.
    "When referring to a novel, work of art, film, etc, "explicit" usually will be understood to refer to sexual detail."

    There are tens of thousands of cases of 'explicit agreement' and similar terms ('explicit promise' as in your OED, 'explicit assurance', etc).

    http://www.ehow.com/info_8442299_differences-between-implicit-explicit-agreements.html

    Differences Between Implicit & Explicit Agreements | eHow
    www.ehow.com › Business‎


    http://library.ryerson.ca/copyright/policies-guidelines/electronic-resources-terms-of-use-2/
    Electronic Resources Terms of Use | Copyright
    library.ryerson.ca/copyright/policies.../electronic-resources-terms-of-use-...‎


    ===
    Likewise there are tens of thousands of hits for "he was quite explicit"

    http://books.google.ca/books?id=yeyR0Ds6k58C&pg=PA332

    The Shaping of America: Atlantic America, 1492-1800, p. 332
    books.google.ca/books?isbn=0300038828

    Donald William Meinig - 1986 - ‎History
    What is the difference between them in your opinion, benny?

    Thank you
     
    "Articulate" is more often applied to a person, but it means able to express herself clearly, without extra words, choosing the exactly right words; by extension it could apply to a piece of writing: "an articulate expression of the anti-war position."

    One doesn't say, "He's an explicit teacher." One might use 'articulate' to suggest the qualities above. You could say, "His last lecture included explicit criticism of the the government's inaction during the Syrian civil war." or "He was explicit in criticising...."

    "He made a very articulate case for intervening."
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Hmm....okay. The pieces of writing are articulate (well, some of them are) and we also say that people are articulate. Can we say that a verbal statement can be both articulate and explicit? For some reason I can't see the difference between them clearly :(.
    When a verbal statement is clear and easy to understand, which one sounds the context better?

    Excuse me for asking again :(
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    There is indeed overlap but the nuance, in my mind (=my experience), lies in comparing:
    •articulate (adj) using clear and easy to understand language, especially when presenting complex arguments and explanations.
    •explicit - leaving no details out, making everything outwardly evident. Often in contrast to implicit (not spoken, remaining hidden, yet possibly still understood)
    That form can be subdivided based on literal (3.b) and figurative (3.a). Explicit itself does not usually carry any sense of clarity the way articulate does.
     

    decorator1

    Member
    English - Standard & Yorskhire
    Even if a statement is clear and easy to understand, I wouldn't necessarily describe it as either 'articulate' or 'explicit'. 'Articulate' connotes verbal elegance and 'explicit' suggests comprehensive, leaving nothing out.

    Why not just call it 'clear'?
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    There is indeed overlap but the nuance, in my mind (=my experience), lies in comparing:
    •articulate (adj) using clear and easy to understand language, especially when presenting complex arguments and explanations.
    •explicit - leaving no details out, making everything outwardly evident. Often in contrast to implicit (not spoken, remaining hidden, yet possibly still understood)
    That form can be subdivided based on literal (3.b) and figurative (3.a). Explicit itself does not usually carry any sense of clarity the way articulate does.
    Hmmm....can we say that "explicit = leaving nothing out, going into details" and "articulate = using an easy to understand language"? I think I see the difference, Mr.Stuart :).

    I agree that "clear" is probably the most versatile of all :).
     
    Julian in part--a proposed definition:
    •articulate (adj) using clear and easy to understand language, especially when presenting complex arguments and explanations.
    With all due respect, I would not agree with this. An articulate speaker can be addressing a complex topic. He handles it skillfully, is clear and logical and chooses just the right words. He gets across to his intended audience; they may be justices of the Supreme Court. He is not necessarily trying to simplify to "Law School for Dummies" level.

    'Explicit' means that something is directly dealt with. "His survey of the issues of appropriation was articulate, but he made no explicit mention of the current debate over railway lands south of Chicago."

    ==
    Julian in post #9, complete:
    There is indeed overlap but the nuance, in my mind (=my experience), lies in comparing:
    •articulate (adj) using clear and easy to understand language, especially when presenting complex arguments and explanations.
    •explicit - leaving no details out, making everything outwardly evident. Often in contrast to implicit (not spoken, remaining hidden, yet possibly still understood)
    That form can be subdivided based on literal (3.b) and figurative (3.a). Explicit itself does not usually carry any sense of clarity the way articulate does.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I specifically avoided the term "simple": clear and easy to understand may well be complex. It is easy to understand because the speaker is articulate. :D I was trying to emphasize the nuance, rather than complete the definition.
     
    Last edited:

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    Can a speech be explicit, without being articulate and the opposite? I am getting the impression that explicit is more similar to "detailed", rather than "clear".
     
    [Warning: Do not read this if explicit talk of violence upsets you.]

    "He grabbed the damn calf with one hand and drove the ax through its neck with the other. There was f***in' blood spurting everywhere."

    This is explicit without being articulate, yes? I have used violence rather than sex, perhaps you get the idea.
     

    GandalfMB

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian - Yellow Beach
    [Warning: Do not read this if explicit talk of violence upsets you.]

    "He grabbed the damn calf with one hand and drove the ax through its neck with the other. There was f***in' blood spurting everywhere."

    This is explicit without being articulate, yes? I have used violence rather than sex, perhaps you get the idea.
    Yes, benny :). I think that's what I suggested in post #12. Something can be explicit without being articulate.
     
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