Articulate

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Notice that two homographs of articulate exist in English, which can cause confusion when reading. They have different pronunciations, which can cause confusion when reading aloud.

  • The adjective articulate, meaning 'good with words', 'able to express ideas well', is pronounced are-TICK-you-let', IPA: r ˈtɪk jʊ lət/.
  • The verb 'to articulate', pronounced with a more definite final syllable ('are-TICK-you-late',IPA: /ɑr ˈtɪk jʊ leɪt/) has several meanings. The basic meaning etymologically is 'to set out in different articles [~ sentences, or paragraphs]'.
    • The most common meaning generally now is 'to express clearly', 'to put into words [effectively]'.
    • In biological and medical terms, 'articulate' means 'to move', more precisely '[of a joint] to change the relative position of one organ with another [or with the whole body]'. Human arms are articulated at shoulder, elbow and wrist.
    • By analogy, various technologies seek to articulate various constructions. The skill in making a toy snake is largely in creating the joints that allow the beast to articulate, or manoeuvre in a way that mimics the real animal.
      • In -ed participle form, articulated describes something that is jointed, and can change relative position. In an articulated lorry (or artic, in colloquial speech), the trailer that carries the load is attached to the tractor that tows it by a joint that makes turning very much easier.
      • In the medical and anatomical field, an articulated skeleton is one in which the bones have been so prepared and attached that the joints can still move in a way like that in which they moved in life.
      • In the central meaning, a well-articulated argument, speech or thought is one that has been well expressed, particularly in the way that the stages of an argument have been connected.