Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

That depends on the meaning of “no”

Negation is complex.

I just thought of that again, while filling out an employee satisfaction survey about the company and the working conditions.

One of the first questions is, “All in all, [company] enjoys a good reputation outside the company as a good employer” with the possible responses “Yes; mostly yes; more yes than no; more no than yes; mostly no; no”.

And my thought is, the company is so small that most people won’t have heard of it, so it won’t have any reputation: neither a good one nor a bad one.

So I wanted to leave out that question at first, but then remembered the advice from the preface: “Please leave out no question, if possible. There are no right or wrong answers! Every answer is correct if it expresses what you personally think or feel.” (Emphasis in the original.)

But I’m still worried that if I answer “No” (because it is not the case that the company enjoys a good reputation) that people will assume that I mean that the company enjoys a bad reputation, which is not a valid conclusion.

I’m reminded of the question of “What is the opposite of ‘love’?” with two possible answers including “hate” and “apathy”; in Lojban, I suppose those would correspond to “to’e prami” (polar-opposite love) and “no’e prami” (scalar-midpoint-not love), respectively.

Lojban has more than just a couple of negators, precisely because negation is complex. And here I would go for “na ku zo’u: go’i” (it is not the case that: previous bridi) (or, equivalently, “na go’i”), which asserts (I think) that the previous predicate is not the case without expressing anything about the truth value of any of its constituents. Or perhaps a bit more precisely: the company has a na’e good reputation (scalar contrary: other than …; not …), but I’m not saying that the company has a to’e good reputation (polar opposite).

So to return to the original problem, I wonder: do I fill it out? If so, will a conclusion be drawn from my response? And if so: will the conclusion be valid? And if not: what’s the point of asking the question? I feel like I can’t win. (Or, perhaps better: that the company can’t win, if the aggregated responses they get from the surveying organisation are not particularly useful because the questions they set were not well-suited to the array of responses possible.)

Tags: language, lojban, work
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