1

Does the truth of someone's position mean its quality of being based on fact?

The dictionary defines the verb acknowledge as to admit the truth or existence of something. If so, consider the following sentences:

  1. The US acknowledges the position that Taiwan is a part of China.
  2. The US acknowledges that Taiwan is a part of China.

Can #1 be interpreted to mean the US admits the truth of the position according to the dictionary definition? Does that in turn mean that the US admits there's some truth in the position?

  • did you read that position sentence anywhere or you made it? – Maulik V Mar 6 '14 at 6:34
  • It's from the Shanghai Communique between the US and China. – Apollyon Mar 6 '14 at 6:40
2

Sentence 1. is indeed ambiguous in terms of its intended meaning.

"position" can mean

a) a point of view adopted and held to.

If the US "acknowledges the position that..." then it accepts that there are some people who believe it.

If they "acknowledge that..." then they accept the truth of the statement.

"position" can also mean

b) the point or area occupied by a physical object

or

c) relative place, situation, or standing

"The US acknowledges Taiwan's position in China" could mean that Taiwan is situated inside of China, but could also be referring to Taiwan's political standing in regards to China. For an unambiguously geographical meaning, the whole sentence (and the Earth) would have to be restructured.

To mean acknowledging the truth of Taiwan "belonging" to China, this should be:

The US acknowledges Taiwan's position as part of China.

or

The US acknowledges the position that Taiwan has as part of China.

which is definition c).

So what sentence 1 really means is that the US acknowledges others' opinions about Taiwan being part of China. Whether this is what is really meant, or whether "position" was accidentally misused, or whether it was used to pretend a meaning that isn't there, by association with other definitions (doublespeak), is anyone's guess.

  • 1
    This indeed sounds like classic political "cautious speak". It is probably deliberately intended to not be clear. The U.S. does not want to offend Taiwan by saying that they are part of China, nor offend China by saying that they are not. So they say they "acknowledge the position". Does that mean they're saying it's true, or just that they recognize that some people say it's true? We usually want our speech to be clear, but sometimes ambiguity is a deliberate goal. – Jay Mar 6 '14 at 17:16

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