This This Rant, or The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Possibly Unintended Ambiguity

This title’s politically incorrect usage of the term “idiot”, though clearly satirical is a reference to the series of instructional book titles whose popularity serves as proof of the embarrassing national tendency to wear ironic anti-intellectualism as a badge of honor only to complain when it rusts honor dope swag/couture young. But, does that excuse this? 

This is where this gets confusing. 

This is so problematic because it can be used as an adjective, adverb, definite article, pronoun, or (in this case) a noun. This means we are often stuck tracking the referent of this down, which invites ambiguity. To complicate this further, this is indexical. By way of definition, to be indexical means that the meaning of this (meaning a word, generally [this, in this case, being used as an exemplar]) can change depending on the speaker. That being said, that can be a problem too. 

To wit, if we aim to communicate precisely and concisely we must try to eliminate this ambiguity. This wordplay is only acceptable in creative or self-referential, pedantic didacticism. Thus, we should be careful that the meaning of this is clear everytime we use this thus. 

This thus instantiates my complaint.


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