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Shelled versus unshelled
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2013/12/06
4:40pm
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I make a three-bean salad with edamame, black beans, and chickpeas.  My neighborhood supermarket stocks only the frozen edamame in the pod, so this is something I usually pick up without the pods at one of the bigger stores. The other night, however, I spotted the store brand, and it said "unshelled edamame."  The photo on the bag was of a complete pod. I felt through the bag and it definitely felt like the beans were in the pod.

 

My mind was processing "unshelled" to mean there were no shells. So it looked mislabeled to me. I did a quick survey of friends, and most thought that "unshelled" meant "with shells" – that is, they had not been "shelled."  It still scans as ambiguous to me in a way that "shucked," with corn, would not be. Merriam-Webster has a definition of the word "unshell" which means apparently the same thing as the verb form of "shell" – to remove the natural enclosing cover, as a shell, husk or pod. There doesn't seem to be a defined word "unshuck." 

 

Wouldn't it be simpler to label them "in the pod"?

2013/12/06
9:10pm
deaconB
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I am not sure how you propose to unshuck corn or unshell a legume.  If you would post a video clip of someone doing either, it might enlighten the rest of us.

 The "un" prefix doesn't necessarily mean that an inverse process was applied. Often it means "not" or "not yet".  For instance, your county home ec agent will suggest making sure the eggs you buy are uncracked.

 

 

2013/12/07
3:54am
RobertB
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Unshelled to my ear is hopelessly ambiguous. But even without 'un,' what to make of shelled oysters, shuck corns, skinned potatoes? – which of the binary states is better?

It comes to the basic principle of the adjective: to describe a special feature. The problem is when it offers a binary choice, and the 2 features are also more or less equally special, that is, rare or desirable in someway, then -

2013/12/07
9:36am
Bob Bridges
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If "shelled" means "taken from their shells", then the manufacturer undoubtedly intended "unshelled" to mean not shelled.  But as you say, it's difficult to be sure in any particular case.  It's kind of like "unraveled", isn't it?

2013/12/09
7:27pm
JohnS
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unshelled, unpasteurized, unwed, unmarried, uneducated, unspoiled, unknown

I guess unshelled belongs to a class of particples (which function as adjectives) that mean "have not yet been subject to the action implied", or that indicate the opposite of a binary state (e.g, shelled/not shelled, married/not married, etc.). However, it is understood that these cannot be verbs; you can't "undo" the action (you can't un-educate somebody!):

But how about unravelled, undressed, unwound, untied, unbuttoned, unzipped, unglued?

The teacher in me would explain that these are states in which a previous action has been reversed. These are also participles which can also be used in active verb forms (Please untie me).

BTW… how DO you ravel something??

 

2013/12/09
8:13pm
Dick
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JohnS said
unshelled, unpasteurized, unwed, unmarried, uneducated, unspoiled, unknown

I guess unshelled belongs to a class of particples (which function as adjectives) that mean "have not yet been subject to the action implied", or that indicate the opposite of a binary state (e.g, shelled/not shelled, married/not married, etc.). However, it is understood that these cannot be verbs; you can't "undo" the action (you can't un-educate somebody!):

But how about unravelled, undressed, unwound, untied, unbuttoned, unzipped, unglued?

The teacher in me would explain that these are states in which a previous action has been reversed. These are also participles which can also be used in active verb forms (Please untie me).

BTW… how DO you ravel something??

 

Everything you say is correct but after looking closely at the words you used, I realized that the second group falls under both of the definitions you gave. Someone who has never been dressed is called undressed. A shirt that has never been buttoned is unbuttoned.  I am not commenting on unraveled. I think it falls in a different category

 

2013/12/09
9:49pm
RobertB
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The last 2 posts seem to imply there is no word 'ravel.'   If so see here: To become tangled or confused.

 

DeaconB pointed up the possibilities of 'not yet done' and 'reversing what done' (and JohnS again above).  But there is a third possibility: the root word is actually a noun:

earth (noun) --> unearthed

shell (noun) --> unshelled

That's why unshelled can sound like -and can mean- 'shells removed' as Ann pointed up at top.

2013/12/09
11:10pm
JohnS
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OK….But… because the 'shelled' element of 'unshelled' is a participle, it is derived not directly from the noun 'shell', but rather from the verb "to shell".

 

So 'unshelled' has to be understood to mean "the action (of removing the shell) has not happened"

 

Participles derive from verbs, not nouns. Example:

 

She roasts almonds (verb).

Her roasted almonds are the best. (past participle, functioning as an adjective).

 

I helped Grandma shell the peas. (verb).

She gave me half of the shelled peas. (past participle, functioning as an adjective).

 

Of course, verbs like 'to shell (peas)' are themselves derived from the noun (the thing being removed). Same with verb phrases like 'to shuck corn', 'to skin a rabbit', etc.

 

So, shelled peas have no shells, and a skinned rabbit has no skin.  

2013/12/09
11:47pm
deaconB
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JohnS said
However, it is understood that these cannot be verbs; you can't "undo" the action (you can't un-educate somebody!):

We've apparently attended different schools.  I've seen more than one 'educator" apparently determined to increase confusion and ignorance in his students. PhD, after all, stands for "piled higher and deeper", doesn't it?

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” ― Mark Twain

 

 

 

2013/12/10
3:53am
RobertB
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JohnS, what do you make of unearthed?  It works by the opposite logic of skinned rabbit, doesn't it?

Do skinned potatoes have the skin on or off?

My point is there is reason for 'unshelled' to be ambiguous, which was a point at top.

 

2013/12/10
8:17am
deaconB
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RobertB said
Do skinned potatoes have the skin on or off?

Taters are same  as knees and elbows, it's skin off.

 

2013/12/10
8:49am
RobertB
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This author for one calls stuffed skins skinned taters.

If a restaurant serves only potatoes without skin, the chef might have a special item called skinned potatoes to please a few health conscious clients.

It's still ambiguous.

 

2013/12/10
9:22am
JohnS
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No, I'd say "shelled" and "unshelled" would only be ambiguous for people with absolutely no knowledge at all on the subject of gardening, agriculture, vegetables or cooking.

'to de-shell the peas' or 'buy de-shelled peas' might be more descriptive. But shelled/unshelled is plenty clear for anybody who has grown, shelled, and cooked peas.

The various elements of everyday language do not have to conform to anybody's universal laws of correctness. Language just has to work for the people using it. It does not have to be any more complex or rule-bound than is needed to achieve comprehensibility in the community using it.

I think the category of un- words like "unearthed" (meaning removed from the earth) might belong to a different category derived from nouns, which are understood to mean "removed from the noun indicated".

Trying to think of other examples… unbox? unsheath?

 

2013/12/10
10:35am
RobertB
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Here, just for one,

 

Unshell: to remove from a shell

You will find definitions that go the other way.

That just shows that it's ambiguous, which is a point at top.

 

2013/12/10
3:24pm
deaconB
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RobertB said
This author for one calls stuffed skins skinned taters.

If a restaurant serves only potatoes without skin, the chef might have a special item called skinned potatoes to please a few health conscious clients.

It's still ambiguous.

"Stuffed skins", though, aren't made by skinning potatoes, but from gouging out part of the meat from the center of a tater. And it's usually called peeling potatoes, rather than skinning them.

I am reluctant to agree that the peel of a potato has significantly different nutritional value, unless it gets repeatedly dropped on the floor without being washed.  I prefer the appearance and flavor of mashed potatoes made from potatoes in their jackets,, but I suspect that if I were blindfolded, the differences would evaporate.

2013/12/10
9:56pm
Dick
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RobertB said
Here, just for one,

 

Unshell: to remove from a shell

You will find definitions that go the other way.

That just shows that it's ambiguous, which is a point at top.

 

Your definition is for a verb "unshell" which means the same as the verb "shell." I don't think that is ambiguous and there is no verb to describe putting the shell back on peas, nuts, turtles or anything else living.  If you are talking about the adjectives "shelled" and "unshelled," I will agree with John S that only someone with no knowledge of the subject would be confused.  And I don't think you'll find dictionaries to disagree on the meanings of these adjectives. Shelled has the shell off and unshelled has the shell on.

 

2013/12/11
4:48am
RobertB
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It's not mine, it's the link, and it's just one.

If there are enough weights on each side (as you will find true), that makes it both, definition of ambiguous, a point at top.

Do you realize the thing about '…some one with no knowledge… '  directly contradicts what's in front of you?

2013/12/11
9:34am
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Back in the midwest my family and others would use the word "unthaw" to mean "unfreeze" as in "I'll take the meat out of the freezer so it can unthaw for tonite." At some point it dawned on me that since "thaw" was already a perfectly good word for describing that process of becoming unfrozen, "unthaw" would have to mean "freeze." So I banished "unthaw" from my vocabulary.

Then I read this thread and started wondering about "unthaw" again, and did a Google search for the term. Got 92,400 hits, surprisingly. Even more surprising was that several dictionaries list "thaw" and "unthaw" as synonyms. Still, it seems ambiguous to me and I'll be sticking with "thaw" in my usage.

2013/12/11
9:52am
Bob Bridges
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That was my feeling about "unravel"; since "ravel" means taking apart a weave (like when the knitting comes undone, or you start pulling a thread out of one sock), then "unravel" to mean the same thing is redundant.

Unfortunately for my neat little linguistic world, I see that the confusion about "ravel" and "unravel" goes back centuries, and there are hints that the older forms meant "unweave", "tangle" and "untangle".

Still, in the interest of having a word mean something specific rather than nothing specific, I vote for "ravel" to mean "unweave" and "unravel" to be abolished.  There.  Settled.

2013/12/11
7:46pm
Dick
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RobertB said
It's not mine, it's the link, and it's just one.

If there are enough weights on each side (as you will find true), that makes it both, definition of ambiguous, a point at top.

Do you realize the thing about '…some one with no knowledge… '  directly contradicts what's in front of you?

I apologize for the poor wording in my post.  When I said, "your definition" I meant the definition you linked us to and, although I have not thoroughly researched the word, I still do not think you will find ambiguity on the definitions of the adjectives "shelled" and "unshelled." If you find contradictory definitions, please post them.

I also apologize for my paraphrase of John S when he said, "I'd say 'shelled' and 'unshelled' would only be ambiguous for people with absolutely no knowledge at all on the subject of gardening, agriculture, vegetables or cooking."  You obviously have ample knowledge of words but your arguments leads me to believe that you are not familiar with "gardening, agriculture, vegetables or cooking."

 

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