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Thread: the exception that prove's the rule

  1. #1 the exception that prove's the rule 
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    people.. ( mainly tv... ) tell me "there is always an exception to prove the rule" .. or some thing to that idea.

    can any one explain further?


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  3. #2  
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    people.. ( mainly tv... ) tell me "there is always an exception to prove the rule" .. or some thing to that idea.

    can any one explain further?
    Certainly.

    The word 'prove' used to mean 'test' from the Latin 'probo' meaning I test- in Spanish we say yo pruebo or tu pruebas, meaning I taste or test or you taste or test.

    This is where the word probe and probate come from, as when you probe something you test it or a probation period is one used to test something as worthy or not.
    The word 'prove' has evolved in its meaning to mean to 'confirm" but has remained stuck in that phrase coined by some person who in their time still, to them, meant 'to test'.


    Where it doesn't make sense is if you sit down to analyse what its saying.
    If you forget that "prove" at first meant "tests' in place of 'confirms' - which is the meaning we associate with it - it reads something like this:

    There is always an exception to confim that the rule is right.
    Which is like saying there is always immortality to confirm that the rule of death for all living things is right.

    Which doesn't make sense.
    Beucase the word 'prove' has in our time evolved to mean 'confirm'.

    What it is really saying, as the word was used when put in that sentence, is:
    That there is always an exception to test whether or not a rule is right.


    "Prove" therefore is a linguistic fossil.


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    Abraxas,

    That's interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I felt the need to search around to verify it. I've found a site or two that does.

    But I've also found a site or two that explicitly mention it and state that it is not the proper explanation. These sites say that the problem is the wrong word is being scrutinized. Rather than examining 'prove' the key is in 'exception'. Apparently this is an old legal term derived from latin, "exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis." Which translates to, "The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted."

    This from one site:

    We think of it as meaning some case that doesn’t follow the rule, but the original sense was of someone or something that is granted permission not to follow a rule that otherwise applies.
    And this from the other:

    As MEU says, "the original legal sense" of the "the exception proves the rule" is as follows: "'Special leave is given for men to be out of barracks tonight till 11.0 p.m.'; 'The exception proves the rule' means that this special leave implies a rule requiring men, except when an exception is made, to be in earlier. The value of this in interpreting statutes is plain."

    MEU2 adds: "'A rule is not proved by exceptions unless the exceptions themselves lead one to infer a rule' (Lord Atkin).
    I have no idea what MEU or MEU2 is.




    Anyway. Interesting this descent of language. I remember that thread I started at the other place on these phrases.

    "A stitch in time saves nine."

    I'd never understood that saying until one day it hit me in its pure simplicity. That if you put in a stitch before it's too late then it saves you from having to put in 9 stitches (for a total of 10) later.

    In other words, you fix what isn't broken. Or is only showing the slightest signs of weakening towards a break.
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  5. #4 Re: the exception that prove's the rule 
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodgod3rd
    people.. ( mainly tv... ) tell me "there is always an exception to prove the rule" .. or some thing to that idea.

    can any one explain further?
    And let's not forget the popular social connotation that evolved over time: In general, people find a result of a collective's vote more convincing, more valid, more "true" if it is not 100% unanimous.

    If you have a collective of people who had to choose a destination to go for holidays, and several options to choose from, then the vote is considered convincing, valid, true if none of the options got 100% of the votes. If one option got 100% of all votes, the voting would be suspected for being a fraud.

    Similar with the popular connotation to the "exception that proves the rule": If there is a case that doesn't follow the same pattern as other cases of (supposedly) the same kind, then we find this relieving somehow, as if the rest that do follow the pattern are more reliable, more true due to one not being so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by invert_nexus
    Rather than examining 'prove' the key is in 'exception'. Apparently this is an old legal term derived from latin, "exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis." Which translates to, "The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted."

    This from one site:

    We think of it as meaning some case that doesn’t follow the rule, but the original sense was of someone or something that is granted permission not to follow a rule that otherwise applies.
    Interesting. My dictionary of legal terms states this Latin version:

    Exceptio firmat regulam (in casibus non exceptis).

    The exception firms/strenghtens the rule (in cases, that are not excluded).

    The exception does not annull the rule in its entirety, it only annulls that part to which the exception refers to.
    Thus, the rule is followed by all cases; except for those that are strictly defined as exceptions.

    The principle is often wrongly explained to mean that a good rule is only such that has exceptions, and that it is thus the exception that proves the rule.

    * * *

    My example:

    All people have to pay the full price of the ticket for the concert.
    Except:
    1. The unemployed, who have 20% discount.
    2. Children under 18, who have 50% discount.
    3. The retired, who have 20% discount.

    If you are not unemployed, a child or retired, you have to pay the full price.

    The rule (All people have to pay the full price of the ticket for the concert.) applies in all cases but those stated as exceptions (1. The unemployed, who have 20% discount. 2. Children under 18, who have 50% discount. 3. The retired, who have 20% discount.).

    So if you are in a wheelchair, but not unemployed, not retired or not a child under 18, you have to pay the full price. "The exceptions prove the rule."
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  7. #6  
    Forum Masters Degree invert_nexus's Avatar
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    Water,

    1. The unemployed, who have 20% discount.
    Interesting. Is this really the way things work over there? The unemployed get a discount?
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by invert_nexus
    Water,

    1. The unemployed, who have 20% discount.
    Interesting. Is this really the way things work over there? The unemployed get a discount?
    Oh yes.
    In libraries, they have free membership, for example.
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  9. #8  
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    You have to pay for libraries? Everybody gets free libraries over here. Public libraries, that is.

    How do they prove they're unemployed?

    This has to be a holdover from communism.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by invert_nexus
    You have to pay for libraries? Everybody gets free libraries over here. Public libraries, that is.

    How do they prove they're unemployed?

    This has to be a holdover from communism.
    You must pay for university libraries and some public libraries.
    Unemployment is proven by a certificate from the unemployment office.
    I odn't think any of this is a specific "holdover from communism" -- that's how things have always been, in Europe, you know.
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