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What does academic distinction mean in this sentence:

Chinese-speaking is the literal meaning of sinophone, without the academic distinction of speakers outside of Greater China. [1]


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinophone#General_meanings

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In the context of the Wikipedia entry the meaning is clearer. The Wikipedia entry has this structure:

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The section containing the phrase academic distinction is the one headed General Meanings. It is followed by a section headed Academic meaning.

The phrase is referring you to the following section. It says it the explanation of the meaning is correct except for those circumstances when the following section applies.

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"Academic distinction" is an idiom meaning that there is a difference between two things, but it is not an important or practical difference, it is just a technical point. The idea is that an "academy" is a school, and so an "academic distinction" is a difference that a textbook might make, but that normal people in everyday life don't worry about.

For example:

Al: I just bought an antique car. It was built in 1936.

Bob: Well, according to the American Antique Automobile Association, a car must have been built before 1930 to be considered "antique".

Al: Whatever, that's an academic distinction.

The point being, maybe somebody wrote in a book somewhere that this is the rule, but in common conversation, people don't necessarily go by that rule.

(PS I just made up that organization name and that date as an example. Not claiming they're real.)

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