Frank Apisa
 
  3  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 05:14 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
But Frank "…but I'd like to make sure I've got my grammar straight." is not a claim to the grammar being straight. It is a claim to like getting it straight.


It seemed to me to be a request to offer opinions on whether he was getting his grammar straight or not. I offered an opinion...I told him what I thought.

Quote:
And you cannot say what Joe likes or doesn't like. You can't say "I don't think you do". Well- you can of course. You did do. You shouldn't is better.

It's the same with the "try".


Not sure of your point here, Spendius. I truly thought Joe was asking for opinions...and I offered them for his consideration. As I mentioned, I was careful to be as circumspect as possible...so as not to seem to be suggesting I am an expert....which I most decidedly am not.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 08:58 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
This was Joe’s first clause.

"Someone's asked me to proofread their work, but they have a habit of always leading into quotes with commas. "

I can assure you that this clause did give me pause. That most assuredly is NOT a falsehood.

And it is my opinion that the word “their” as used in that clause is probably incorrect…and that the “they” as used in that clause is probably incorrect also.


It matters not whether it is your opinion, nor does it matter if Roberta is absolutely certain. The 'their' is correct and the 'they' is correct. Together you advanced a falsehood. I provided you with info that shows that this was merely a concocted 18th century prescription; in other words, it was a made up rule.

I've showed you that other pronouns are used in this same indeterminate fashion. I showed you that 'you' is both singular and plural and that the singular uses a plural verb, [odd that all these prescriptivists never notice that].

I'd offer you a more complicated grammatical description, but you likely wouldn't read it, nor understand it. And you certainly would never discuss it.



So that is NOT a falsehood.[/quote]
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Jul, 2012 09:07 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
A lawyer's language is necessarily prescriptivist.


That's nonsense, Spendi. Certainly there are lawyers who attempt to enforce prescriptions, Bryan Garner is one, but lawyers don't follow nonsensical prescriptions anymore than anyone else does.

Quote:
There's a drift towards informalism as creativity increases and in the flow of it anything goes more and more.

There is no position of certainty because pure informalism can be prescriptive.


That requires an explanation. But you are terribly confused as to what prescriptivism is.
Frank Apisa
 
  5  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 02:08 am
@JTT,
Quote:
It matters not whether it is your opinion, nor does it matter if Roberta is absolutely certain.


Yes, it does, JTT. If I say I am giving my opinion...and I actually give my opinion...that is my opinion. What does not matter is that you may be of another, differing opinion. The fact that you are of another opinion does not change my opinion.

Really, you should be able to grasp that.

So it does matter.


Quote:
The 'their' is correct and the 'they' is correct. Together you advanced a falsehood.


Actually, the "their" and the "they" is correct by some standards and incorrect by other standards. There is no falsehood being advanced...other than your contention that there is a falsehood being advanced by what I have said on the subject.


Quote:
I provided you with info that shows that this was merely a concocted 18th century prescription; in other words, it was a made up rule.


Most rules are "made up", JTT. If you hit a golf ball when playing golf and it bounces off of something and hits you as the hitter...there is a penalty. It is prescriptive. Rules by their very nature are prescriptive. In fact, your contention that grammar ought be free of prescriptive considerations is itself a prescriptive consideration.

But being prescriptive doesn't make them "wrong" nor "right." It simply makes them rules...and often rules of grammar help make the language understandable.

Quote:
I've showed you that other pronouns are used in this same indeterminate fashion. I showed you that 'you' is both singular and plural and that the singular uses a plural verb, [odd that all these prescriptivists never notice that].


They do notice that...and many of us disregard the rules when we feel okay with doing so. But a grammar question was asked...and I suggested an area of investigation for Joe. There was no reason for you to make this into a campaign for what you consider non-prescriptive grammar...or for you to characterize a suggestion as a lie or as falsehood spreading.

Try to calm down, JTT. You are not doing your health any good getting all worked up over very little like this. Go with the flow.

Quote:
I'd offer you a more complicated grammatical description, but you likely wouldn't read it, nor understand it. And you certainly would never discuss it.


Actually I would read it. I am captivated by what you write. But no problem. I realize you wrote this paragraph and inserted it just to put a deniable insult in place in order to make you feel better about yourself. I don't mind it...and if suggesting that I would "not understand it" helps you feel better, JTT...I am all for it.

Anyway, here in America we are celebrating our Independence Day today. I hope you enjoy your day wherever you are. I know I will enjoy mine...with golf first on the agenda (although rain is in the forecast and the round may have to wait until tomorrow.)



Quote:
So that is NOT a falsehood.


You really have got to do some introspection on this hangup you have with "falsehoods", JTT. My bet is if you were to ask psychiatrists from two different schools about it, you would get two different suggestions for dealing with it...just as two different grammarians might suggest different prescriptive methods of dealing with American English grammar. There is a lesson to be learned here. I hope you learn it.
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 04:09 am
@JTT,
Quote:
But you are terribly confused as to what prescriptivism is.


Not in the least. It is what anybody wants it to be.

Chomsky said--"I think sensible prescriptivism ought to be part of any education."

That's meaningless because it means whatever anybody wants it to mean. And he only thought it anyway in the present of when he said it.

If you want to be understood the listener prescribes how you should address him.

There's an ethical meaning of the word as well when a moral principle demands a certain prescribed behaviour. And an obvious medical meaning.

In language there is a spectrum. Hence a relativity. If the spectrum goes from 0 to 100 then a person on 20 will call a person on 60 a prescriptivist and the person on 60 will call a person on 95 the same.

0 would consist of babbling as far as a listener is concerned and 100 would be variations on speak your weight machine language. BBC News being in the 90s. I am less prescriptivist in the pub than I am when ordering seeds from a horticultural supplies outfit.

There's nothing to it JT. It's elementary. I'm shocked to the core of my being that you think I'm "terribly confused" on the matter. The only solace I have is that what you think only becomes prescriptivist if you are the essence of divine wisdom.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 04:18 am
@spendius,
If I opened a book at random and read either of the two examples Joe England offered my prescriptivism would cause me to close it and place it back where I got it from. I might roll my eyes--but discreetly in most cases.
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 04:42 am
@spendius,
Quote:
N O, I'll not say a word about it, --
here it is ; ---- in publishing it, ----
I have appealed to the world, ---- and to
the world I leave it ; ---- it must speak for
itself.
All I know of the matter is, ---- when
I sat down, my intent was to write a good
book ; and as far as the tenuity of my
understanding would hold out, -- a wise,
aye, and a discreet, ---- taking care only,
as I went along, to put into it all the wit
and the judgment (be it more or less)
which the great author and bestower of
them had thought fit originally to give
me, ---- so that, as your worships see, --
'tis just as God pleases.


Laurence Sterne. The AUTHOR'S PREFACE following Chapter XX of Volume III of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Edited with an introduction and notes by Ian Campbell Ross. OUP. World Classics Series.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 06:48 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
Not in the least. It is what anybody wants it to be.


That is ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous. Is an apple, a doctor, a tree, Spendius what anybody wants it to be.

Quote:
Chomsky said--"I think sensible prescriptivism ought to be part of any education."

That's meaningless because it means whatever anybody wants it to mean. And he only thought it anyway in the present of when he said it.


An awful lot of assumptions there, S. If you actually understood what prescriptivism is, then you might understand/might have understood.

Quote:
If you want to be understood the listener prescribes how you should address him.


Then you've not been listening to what many here at A2K have been telling you.


Quote:
There's an ethical meaning of the word as well when a moral principle demands a certain prescribed behaviour. And an obvious medical meaning.


Earth to Spendius. A word can have multiple meanings.

Quote:
In language there is a spectrum. Hence a relativity. If the spectrum goes from 0 to 100 then a person on 20 will call a person on 60 a prescriptivist and the person on 60 will call a person on 95 the same.


I told you that you don't understand. A person is being prescriptive when they describe a rule which isn't a rule. When they tell people that they have to follow a false rule

Quote:
I am less prescriptivist in the pub than I am when ordering seeds from a horticultural supplies outfit.


That has nothing to do with prescriptivism. You are describing situations where different registers are used. Note the word describing.

The thing that is elementary, Spendi, is your grasp of prescriptive - descriptive.
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 4 Jul, 2012 07:50 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
Yes, it does, JTT. If I say I am giving my opinion...and I actually give my opinion...that is my opinion. What does not matter is that you may be of another, differing opinion. The fact that you are of another opinion does not change my opinion.


Frank`s song and dance routine. Your opinion doesn`t matter, Frank. The issue is whether you advanced a falsehood. You did. Of course it`s your opinion because it sure isn`t a fact.

Quote:
Actually, the "their" and the "they" is correct by some standards and incorrect by other standards.


That`s right., Frank. These types of collocations are only incorrect in the eyes of those who think opinions drive the rules of language. They don`t. It`s a falsehood to even suggest that rules derived from opinions are `standards`.

Quote:
Most rules are "made up", JTT.


That illustrates just how little you know about language, Frank. Your golf comparison is fatuous. Golf is made up from beginning to end. That most certainly is NOT how languages work.

Quote:
Rules by their very nature are prescriptive.


The workings of languages are not. Now before you get off on another tangent that I can see you embracing wholeheartedly, I`m referring to speech.

Quote:
In fact, your contention that grammar ought be free of prescriptive considerations is itself a prescriptive consideration.


Again, you highlight your ignorance. I`m simply describing how language works. I`m not prescribing, ie. telling people how they should use the language. That`s prescription, Frank. If I tell you you should stop playing golf, that would be me prescribing a behavior to you but it would have nothing to do with language.

Really, you should be able to grasp that.

Quote:
They do notice that...and many of us disregard the rules when we feel okay with doing so.


Pardon me. Now you`re suggesting that `you are`singular is incorrect, a disregard for the rules.

Quote:
There was no reason for you to make this into a campaign for what you consider non-prescriptive grammar...or for you to characterize a suggestion as a lie or as falsehood spreading.


There was indeed. You told Joe a lie. You bumbled around, couching it in probablys but the net effect was the same - you told a lie, you supported a falsehood.

What you have done here is the equivalent of telling people that Grizzly Bears don`t hibernate, that they migrate to warmer climes. That they never eat any meat.

You see, Frank. When you describe natural behavior, you don`t include your opinions. You really have little grasp of just how complex language is. The `rules` you learned in school or from bozos like Richard Lederer are the equivalent of those opinions, above, about Grizzly Bears.

Quote:
But being prescriptive doesn't make them "wrong" nor "right." It simply makes them rules...and often rules of grammar help make the language understandable.


Rules of grammar do help make the language understandable. Prescriptions are not rules of grammar.

Quote:
Obviously, you need to build in some kind of rules, but what kind? Prescriptive rules? Imagine trying to build a talking machine by designing it to obey rules like "Don't split infinitives" or "Never begin a sentence with [because]." It would just sit there. In fact, we already have machines that don't split infinitives; they're called screwdrivers, bathtubs, cappuccino- makers, and so on. Prescriptive rules are useless without the much more fundamental rules that create the sentences to begin with. These rules are never mentioned in style manuals or school grammars because the authors correctly assume that anyone capable of reading the manuals must already have the rules. No one, not even a valley girl, has to be told not to say [Apples the eat boy] or [Who did you meet John and?] or the vast, vast majority of the trillions of mathematically possible combinations of words.

So when a scientist considers all the high-tech mental machinery needed to arrange words into ordinary sentences, prescriptive rules are, at best, inconsequential little decorations. The very fact that they have to be drilled shows that they are alien to the natural workings of the language system. One can choose to obsess over prescriptive rules, but they have no more to do with human language than the criteria for judging cats at a cat show have to do with mammalian biology.


Natural rules, Frank, the grammar rules, do not have to be drilled. Children by age five, have pretty much all the natural rules within their internal grammars. And this one that you and Roberta tried to push is certainly not natural.

I described to you how this prescription was made up in the late 18th century. You read, I hope you did, how many of the most famous writers of English never followed that particular rule. We don`t follow unnatural rules when we are operating naturally in English, which is most of the time.

Quote:
Most of the prescriptive rules of the language mavens make no sense on any level. They are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons several hundred years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since. For as long as they have existed, speakers have flouted them, spawning identical plaints about the imminent decline of the language century after century. All the best writers in English have been among the flagrant flouters.

The rules conform neither to logic nor tradition, and if they were ever followed they would force writers into fuzzy, clumsy, wordy, ambiguous, incomprehensible prose, in which certain thoughts are not expressible at all. Indeed, most of the "ignorant errors" these rules are supposed to correct display an elegant logic and an acute sensitivity to the grammatical texture of the language, to which the mavens are oblivious.


Everyone brought his dog.

That`s the kind of rule you mean, Frank. Does that help you to understand that that everyone means ten people and each of them (there`s another singular with a plural) brought their own dog.

Everyone brought their dog.

Quote:
Actually I would read it. I am captivated by what you write. But no problem. I realize you wrote this paragraph and inserted it just to put a deniable insult in place in order to make you feel better about yourself. I don't mind it...and if suggesting that I would "not understand it" helps you feel better, JTT...I am all for it.


No, I didn`t intend it as an insult. I can tell by your replies that you don`t understand a lot about language. I know that you most certainly would understand some of it. Language is the most complicated thing you have ever done in your life, Frank. You wouldn`t understand, at the outset, areas of, say, physics or medicine.

Quote:
.just as two different grammarians might suggest different prescriptive methods of dealing with American English grammar.


Sensible grammarians don`t prescribe, Frank. That`s the Grizzly Bear problem. Sensible grammarians, like sensible biologists, describe language as it really works, not as someone wishes, hopes, demands it works.





Frank Apisa
 
  0  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 03:46 am
@JTT,
Quote:
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
Yes, it does, JTT. If I say I am giving my opinion...and I actually give my opinion...that is my opinion. What does not matter is that you may be of another, differing opinion. The fact that you are of another opinion does not change my opinion.


Frank`s song and dance routine. Your opinion doesn`t matter, Frank. The issue is whether you advanced a falsehood. You did. Of course it`s your opinion because it sure isn`t a fact.

Quote:
Actually, the "their" and the "they" is correct by some standards and incorrect by other standards.


That`s right., Frank. These types of collocations are only incorrect in the eyes of those who think opinions drive the rules of language. They don`t. It`s a falsehood to even suggest that rules derived from opinions are `standards`.

Quote:
Most rules are "made up", JTT.


That illustrates just how little you know about language, Frank. Your golf comparison is fatuous. Golf is made up from beginning to end. That most certainly is NOT how languages work.

Quote:
Rules by their very nature are prescriptive.


The workings of languages are not. Now before you get off on another tangent that I can see you embracing wholeheartedly, I`m referring to speech.

Quote:
In fact, your contention that grammar ought be free of prescriptive considerations is itself a prescriptive consideration.


Again, you highlight your ignorance. I`m simply describing how language works. I`m not prescribing, ie. telling people how they should use the language. That`s prescription, Frank. If I tell you you should stop playing golf, that would be me prescribing a behavior to you but it would have nothing to do with language.

Really, you should be able to grasp that.

Quote:
They do notice that...and many of us disregard the rules when we feel okay with doing so.


Pardon me. Now you`re suggesting that `you are`singular is incorrect, a disregard for the rules.

Quote:
There was no reason for you to make this into a campaign for what you consider non-prescriptive grammar...or for you to characterize a suggestion as a lie or as falsehood spreading.


There was indeed. You told Joe a lie. You bumbled around, couching it in probablys but the net effect was the same - you told a lie, you supported a falsehood.

What you have done here is the equivalent of telling people that Grizzly Bears don`t hibernate, that they migrate to warmer climes. That they never eat any meat.

You see, Frank. When you describe natural behavior, you don`t include your opinions. You really have little grasp of just how complex language is. The `rules` you learned in school or from bozos like Richard Lederer are the equivalent of those opinions, above, about Grizzly Bears.

Quote:
But being prescriptive doesn't make them "wrong" nor "right." It simply makes them rules...and often rules of grammar help make the language understandable.


Rules of grammar do help make the language understandable. Prescriptions are not rules of grammar.

Quote:
Obviously, you need to build in some kind of rules, but what kind? Prescriptive rules? Imagine trying to build a talking machine by designing it to obey rules like "Don't split infinitives" or "Never begin a sentence with [because]." It would just sit there. In fact, we already have machines that don't split infinitives; they're called screwdrivers, bathtubs, cappuccino- makers, and so on. Prescriptive rules are useless without the much more fundamental rules that create the sentences to begin with. These rules are never mentioned in style manuals or school grammars because the authors correctly assume that anyone capable of reading the manuals must already have the rules. No one, not even a valley girl, has to be told not to say [Apples the eat boy] or [Who did you meet John and?] or the vast, vast majority of the trillions of mathematically possible combinations of words.

So when a scientist considers all the high-tech mental machinery needed to arrange words into ordinary sentences, prescriptive rules are, at best, inconsequential little decorations. The very fact that they have to be drilled shows that they are alien to the natural workings of the language system. One can choose to obsess over prescriptive rules, but they have no more to do with human language than the criteria for judging cats at a cat show have to do with mammalian biology.


Natural rules, Frank, the grammar rules, do not have to be drilled. Children by age five, have pretty much all the natural rules within their internal grammars. And this one that you and Roberta tried to push is certainly not natural.

I described to you how this prescription was made up in the late 18th century. You read, I hope you did, how many of the most famous writers of English never followed that particular rule. We don`t follow unnatural rules when we are operating naturally in English, which is most of the time.

Quote:
Most of the prescriptive rules of the language mavens make no sense on any level. They are bits of folklore that originated for screwball reasons several hundred years ago and have perpetuated themselves ever since. For as long as they have existed, speakers have flouted them, spawning identical plaints about the imminent decline of the language century after century. All the best writers in English have been among the flagrant flouters.

The rules conform neither to logic nor tradition, and if they were ever followed they would force writers into fuzzy, clumsy, wordy, ambiguous, incomprehensible prose, in which certain thoughts are not expressible at all. Indeed, most of the "ignorant errors" these rules are supposed to correct display an elegant logic and an acute sensitivity to the grammatical texture of the language, to which the mavens are oblivious.


Everyone brought his dog.

That`s the kind of rule you mean, Frank. Does that help you to understand that that everyone means ten people and each of them (there`s another singular with a plural) brought their own dog.

Everyone brought their dog.

Quote:
Actually I would read it. I am captivated by what you write. But no problem. I realize you wrote this paragraph and inserted it just to put a deniable insult in place in order to make you feel better about yourself. I don't mind it...and if suggesting that I would "not understand it" helps you feel better, JTT...I am all for it.


No, I didn`t intend it as an insult. I can tell by your replies that you don`t understand a lot about language. I know that you most certainly would understand some of it. Language is the most complicated thing you have ever done in your life, Frank. You wouldn`t understand, at the outset, areas of, say, physics or medicine.

Quote:
.just as two different grammarians might suggest different prescriptive methods of dealing with American English grammar.


Sensible grammarians don`t prescribe, Frank. That`s the Grizzly Bear problem. Sensible grammarians, like sensible biologists, describe language as it really works, not as someone wishes, hopes, demands it works.


Hi, JTT.

You seem unusually exercised this morning. Hope all is well in your life.

Ummm...I have not lied or spread any "falsehoods" here. I understand you satisfy some need by suggesting that I have...and I understand that you will go to great lengths to make it seem that your suggestion is correct. But it is not. I have not lied...nor have I spread any "falsehoods" here. (Note the starting word of that last sentence.)

By the way, I notice you started all of your sentences with a capitalized word…and that you capitalized the word “I” when you used it. If you told Joe to do the same when he writes…would that be prescriptive?

I love ya, JTT. You are fun to banter with! (Note the last word in that sentence.) But you have got to stop being so judgmental. People are going to start thinking you are being prescriptive...and it is not going to matter to them that you need to belittle and castigate people in order to feel better about yourself.

C'mon. You are being much more courteous since our little talk earlier...and the move to being reasonable is just one more short step.

I am quite sure you can take it.

Gotta go hit the little white ball now. Be back to read what you have to say later. But remember, I understand and love ya...no matter how these other people feel about you.
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 04:16 am
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
By the way, I notice you started all of your sentences with a capitalized word…and that you capitalized the word “I” when you used it. If you told Joe to do the same when he writes…would that be prescriptive?


Speech is primary, Frank. The rules for writing, an artificial part of language, are just that, artificial, like the rules for golf. I don't tell Setanta to stop using small i for his first person pronouns because it doesn't matter. And neither does anyone else. He is aware of the difference and if he chooses to use that style, it makes no difference. Language won't come to ruin because of it.

You tried to prescribe, albeit, not with the greatest of confidence in your falsehood - you were much more confident when you initially were correcting H2oman. One might say that you've come a long way.

But the major difference between your 'if' situation above and the situation that has unfolded here is that if I described to Joe that capitalizing the first person pronoun was the norm, it wouldn`t be at all prescriptive. Your (and Roberta`s) prescription demanded (by suggesting or stating it`s incorrect) that people avoid a usage that is, always has been, for very good reasons, part of the English language.

Can you not grasp the difference, Frank(question mark)
spendius
 
  0  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 05:18 am
@JTT,
Quote:
Is an apple, a doctor, a tree, Spendius what anybody wants it to be.


For sure. There's Eve's apple which had no pips, there's spin doctors who are out to do harm and Darwin's tree of life which is plain ridiculous.

Quote:
An awful lot of assumptions there, S. If you actually understood what prescriptivism is, then you might understand/might have understood.


Why do Americans debate like that? I would prescribe not using "awful" for a start. Then there are as many assertions as are contained in "lot". None of which are true. Then an unwarranted insult because Chomsky's statement is meaningless as a fact because it is a tautology on his definition of sensible. And "part" goes from anything greater than 0% up to anything less than 100%. And he only thought it at the time. I do understand prescriptivism. It's relative. And I did understand the statement. It's another "sound good" fatuity.

Quote:
Then you've not been listening to what many here at A2K have been telling you.


Which seems an eminently sensible idea to me.

Quote:
Earth to Spendius. A word can have multiple meanings.


Gee!!--thanks. It's surprising what can be learned on A2K from experts.

Quote:
I told you that you don't understand. A person is being prescriptive when they describe a rule which isn't a rule. When they tell people that they have to follow a false rule


I don't see it that way. That person is idiotic.

Quote:
The thing that is elementary, Spendi, is your grasp of prescriptive - descriptive.


I'm a prescriptivist. Anything goes in language which increases the efficiency of the communication of the meaning intended to be communicated. You have obviously not studied Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity.

JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 05:39 am
@spendius,
JTT: Is an apple, a doctor, a tree, Spendius what anybody wants it to be?

Quote:
Spendi: For sure. There's Eve's apple which had no pips, there's spin doctors who are out to do harm and Darwin's tree of life which is plain ridiculous.


Not at all for sure. Those are definitions which require a specific content to be meaningful. Without the proper context, they don't have the specific meaning.

Notice that you have given them specific meanings. Note too that you have contradicted your own contention.

Quote:
Why do Americans debate like that?


Why are you all over the map with multiple confused ideas of this one specific meaning of prescriptive? You wouldn't be if you actually understood. You make it clear that you don't.


JTT: I told you that you don't understand. A person is being prescriptive when they describe a rule which isn't a rule. When they tell people that they have to follow a false rule

Spendi: I don't see it that way. That person is idiotic.

Spendi: I would prescribe not using "awful" for a start.

See what I mean, Spendi. A silly prescription.

The idiocy is when a person doesn't have a firm enough grasp of a concept, the specific meaning of a word, to effectively discuss that word.

If you want to discuss doctors' prescriptions, fine. That's presently within your ken.

If a word can mean anything a person wants it to mean, then how is it that you receive the drink you ask for in the pub, or the seeds you want at the shop or any of the other countless requests we make daily.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 05:57 am
@JTT,
Quote:
I don't tell Setanta to stop using small i for his first person pronouns because it doesn't matter.


I don't tell him either but it is silly. It purports to stress his humility. It can't be because he's too lazy to use the capital key because he uses that all the time. It's a statement and for a big-head such as Setanta is it's ridiculous.

But he's entitled to do it of course if he wishes to stress how unimportant he feels in the general scheme of things or to ironically draw attention to the opposite. It's an affectation like when a ballet dancer poses in such a way that the tutu is no longer blocking the front row's view of the gusset.

Only prescriptivists would require a ballet dancer to have a gusset. Bloody spoilsports.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  2  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 06:55 am
@JTT,
You can't resist the snidey insult can you JT?

Nobody who purports to be an English expert would dream of using "awful" where you did. "An awful lot of assumptions there, S. " Sheesh!!!!

Quote:
If a word can mean anything a person wants it to mean, then how is it that you receive the drink you ask for in the pub, or the seeds you want at the shop or any of the other countless requests we make daily.


Because I communicate to the respective recipient the message I wish to in a manner they will understand. "May I have a pint of John Smith's Extra Smooth, silk in a glass it says here on the backside of the pump, Charlotte? " is the sort of thing I might say to a new starting barmaid. One I'm in tight with will get the pint up when she sees my empty glass. My empty glass carrying exactly the same meaning as my request to Charlotte. Not always though. Sometimes she feels that her correct response to the empty glass constitutes me taking her for granted and she will ignore the communication on the general principle that females enjoy tormenting males. In fact they are evolved to do so which is why I find the instinct endearing.

When she sees the empty glass and knows what it means she will ignore it sometimes and wait until she sees that I'm getting impatient and then go and serve someone who is buying a round with crisps and nuts for a party at a table and paying with a credit card. If my impatience is communicated to her she will say, "I 'aven't got two pairs of hands" which cues us to crack her favourite jest.

The point being, with apologies for my feeling the need to explain it, is that the empty glass is language to those familiar with each other and incomprehensible to others who don't know how many pints are needed in the evening.

There are many grammars for the communication to pub staff that a pint is being requested. I would prescribe the one that best communicates the urgent need for another pint to the barmaid in the particular condition she is in on any particular night. I have been known to wave my empty glass in the air whilst licking up slops on the bar or panting with my tongue hanging out.

Some prescriptivist stylists would say that we shouldn't use a word like "particular" twice in the same sentence. Some say on the same page. But I felt that my doing so conveyed the meaning I intended efficiently enough to justify breaking such a rule.

Take this for example of a classic piece of understatemnt from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24, Verse 10.

Quote:
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.


Imagine what "told" consisted of under the circumstances. Those women were groupies of Jesus who had followed Him from Galilee on foot. They had gone to anoint Jesus' body, found It gone, were afraid and much perplexed and been addressed by two strange men in shining garments saying " Why seek ye the living among the dead?" Presumably perfectly synchronised.







Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 11:39 am
@JTT,


Quote:

Speech is primary, Frank.

Is it? And is that because you have designated it primary…or did you have help from a God?


Quote:
The rules for writing, an artificial part of language, are just that, artificial, like the rules for golf.
I don't tell Setanta to stop using small i for his first person pronouns because it doesn't matter. And neither does anyone else. He is aware of the difference and if he chooses to use that style, it makes no difference. Language won't come to ruin because of it.


Ahhh…I see. But if I suggest to someone that a particular usage may be wrong, then language will come to ruin. Who ever whoulda thunk it!

Anyway, I think the reason you do not tell Setanta to capitalize his "i" is because he would reduce you to rubble if you did. In other words, I think it has more to do with fear, than courtesy.



Quote:
You tried to prescribe, albeit, not with the greatest of confidence in your falsehood - you were much more confident when you initially were correcting H2oman. One might say that you've come a long way.


Nice try to borrow my “you’ve come a long way”, JTT. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.


Quote:
But the major difference between your 'if' situation above and the situation that has unfolded here is that if I described to Joe that capitalizing the first person pronoun was the norm, it wouldn`t be at all prescriptive. Your (and Roberta`s) prescription demanded (by suggesting or stating it`s incorrect) that people avoid a usage that is, always has been, for very good reasons, part of the English language.


Sounds to me as though you are confusing prescriptive with proscriptive. Try to get a grip…and reload.



Quote:
Can you not grasp the difference, Frank(question mark)


Can you not grasp the difference in what I just mentioned, JTT?

Hey, if you had just mentioned that there are different schools of thought on the issue, JTT, you would have been on solid ground. But your need to insult is so great and so demanding, you had to make it “spreading falsehoods” and lying.

Oh, the excesses of people who have to insult! The blind alleys they are lead into!

But it does provide for interesting and spirited conversations…and you cannot ask more of a fellow human being. So thanks!
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 5 Jul, 2012 01:21 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Speech is primary, Frank.


Speech is only primary when speech is primary.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2012 06:40 pm
@spendius,
Quote:
Nobody who purports to be an English expert would dream of using "awful" where you did. "An awful lot of assumptions there, S. " Sheesh!!!!


'awful' is just fine there. Just as 'sheesh' is. You should stop parading your ignorance on language, Spendi.

Quote:
The point being, with apologies for my feeling the need to explain it, is that the empty glass is language to those familiar with each other and incomprehensible to others who don't know how many pints are needed in the evening.

There are many grammars for the communication to pub staff that a pint is being requested. I would prescribe the one that best communicates the urgent need for another pint to the barmaid in the particular condition she is in on any particular night.


Another dandy illustration that you don't understand the meanings of descriptive/prescriptive.

No, there are not "many grammars". You can't speak more than one language and it's unlikely that the staff can either.

Quote:
Some prescriptivist stylists would say that we shouldn't use a word like "particular" twice in the same sentence. Some say on the same page. But I felt that my doing so conveyed the meaning I intended efficiently enough to justify breaking such a rule.


That has nothing to do with grammar, Spendi.

Quote:
Imagine what "told" consisted of under the circumstances. ...


Still has nothing to do with grammar.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2012 07:15 pm
@Frank Apisa,
Quote:
JTT: Speech is primary, Frank.



Frank replied: Is it? And is that because you have designated it primary…or did you have help from a God?

No, it's because it is, Frank. [I knew I shouldn't have thrown another difficult concept at you] But I don't expect you to understand that either. You could, of course, do some research but you've shown not the slightest inclination in that regard.

Everyone learns to speak their language, Frank. Not everyone learns to read and/or write. Reading and writing are artificial aspects of language. The grammar of English is determined by the users of English. Writing, the alphabet, punctuation, have been largely determined by a much smaller segment of users of the language.

Language changes, grammatical changes that is, come from the primary side of language, which is speech.

But let's not get off topic. You still haven't provided anything in defense of "your" prescription. You still haven't addressed any of the reason I've laid out illustrating why the prescription is a falsehood and "everyone/their" collocations are as natural as ... speech.

Quote:
Anyway, I think the reason you do not tell Setanta to capitalize his "i" is because he would reduce you to rubble if you did. In other words, I think it has more to do with fear, than courtesy.


I don't point it out because, one, it is of no importance; two, he is free to use the mechanics of writing as he chooses.

You obviously missed the Pet Peeves of English thread. Setanta mounted his best defense but it was such obvious tripe that once I pointed that out, he couldn't stand the embarrassment and he fled to his little hidey hole, never to engage again.

Quote:
JTT: You tried to prescribe, albeit, not with the greatest of confidence in your falsehood - you were much more confident when you initially were correcting H2oman. One might say that you've come a long way.



Quote:
Frank replied: Nice try to borrow my “you’ve come a long way”, JTT. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.


You sure do have a great deal of difficulty focusing, Frank. When you attempted to "correct" H20man, you were Mr Confidence. That didn't last long when you found out that you were pushing old falsehoods. During that discussion you also showed your great propensity to not focus on the subject. We both know why, don't we?

You certainly have some attributes that one might want to imitate, and your use of language is one of them. Your knowledge of language is not one of them. We both know that, don't we?

That's why you do this song and dance routine, never addressing the actual issue. You can't point to one time where you have addressed this language issue without some sort of flim-flammery.

Quote:
Sounds to me as though you are confusing prescriptive with proscriptive.


Go ahead and explain the difference between the two words, Frank and explain how I'm doing what you've suggested.

Quote:
Hey, if you had just mentioned that there are different schools of thought on the issue, JTT, you would have been on solid ground.


There are different schools of thought, Frank, just as there are different schools of thought on whether the Earth is flat or not, or whether phrenology is accurate science. Your complete avoidance of any discussion defending the prescriptive viewpoint on this issue shows us which school you are from.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2012 07:31 pm
Quote:
The President and the pronoun

August 3, 2009 @ 11:17 am · Filed by Geoffrey K. Pullum under Language and politics, Prescriptivist poppycock, singular "they"

...

A nice example of the way singular they works was overlooked (like health care, the economy, and everything else in the past week of "racial politics") during the brouhaha over President Obama's press conference remarks about the arrest in Cambridge, Massachusetts of Professor Henry Louis Gates. Obama said:

. . . the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.

Why would he use they and their, when the antecedent, somebody, is syntactically singular, and we actually know that the somebody he is talking about in this case was Professor Henry Louis Gates, who is male? Why did he not say proof that he was in his own home?

(By the way, when I write they in this post, in bold italics, I mean the word described by the dictionary entry for they — the word that has the inflected forms they, them, their, theirs, themselves, and occasionally themself. Likewise, by he I mean the item having the inflected forms he, him, his, and himself.)

The answer to the question of why Obama did not use he is that he knows intuitively that is not how things work in contemporary Standard English. Obama (like any native speaker) would certainly use he if the antecedent were a name: he would say The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting Professor Gates when there was already proof that he was in his own home. (The version with they would be grammatical but with a different meaning: The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting Professor Gates when there was already proof that they were in their own home, and that could only have the meaning — absurd in the present context — that the police officers in question shared a home and were provably in it at the time of the arrest.) But antecedents like somebody are different.

Obama was trying to make a general claim about the stupidity of arresting some person x when there was already proof that x was in x's own home. The x in this paraphrase is intended as what a logician would call a bound variable. The issue at hand is which pronoun to use when expressing the same content in English. Now, Obama wasn't intending to limit himself to the claim that arresting Professor Gates was stupid. Doubtless he would think that arresting Harvard president Drew Faust in her own home, if she got snippy after she had shown her driver's license, would also be stupid — unless she had clearly committed an arrestable crime. And in contemporary Standard English, with antecedents like somebody or everyone or any citizen, people typically use the pronoun they for "bound variable" meanings in this sort of syntactic situation.

Strunk and White baldly assert that this is an error. They simply say don't use they with syntactically singular antecedents like somebody. They don't give a reason; and it is pretty clear they didn't know anything much about the literary evidence that they has been grammatical and normal with singular antecedents for six or seven centuries. Strunk and White are just wrong about Standard English syntax, here as nearly everywhere else where they deal with grammar in their book The Elements of Style.

Of course, you have a perfect right to hold the opinion that they with a singular antecedent seems distasteful or ugly to you. In that case I would advise you not to use it. But don't call it a grammatical error, because it clearly isn't one, and never has been. Don't say that it betokens a breakdown in our ability to tell singular from plural, because it doesn't.

And don't allege that it generally introduces ambiguity, because it doesn't. There is (as usual wherever pronouns are found) an ambiguity in what Obama said: it would be linguistically possible to read they and their as referring to the police — or, for that matter, to some group of otherwise unidentified third parties such as the Spice Girls. But to pick up on either of those grammatical possibilities would be going for a crazy interpretation when a sensible one was available. Nobody listening to the president misunderstood him in this way, and none of the journalists writing about it (as far as I know) even mentioned either possibility. Everyone understood his they and their as corresponding to bound variables.

Obama is a fluent and excellent speaker of Standard English, and his grammatical ear (if not his political ear!) was spot-on perfect on this occasion. Singular they was the right pronoun to use in the context. If you talk about arresting a man when he's in his own home, you're talking about arrests of males; if you talk about arresting a woman when she's in her own home, you're talking about arrests of females; if you talk about arresting a man or woman when he or she is in his or her own home, you're talking like a badly written statute or contract. Obama intuitively understood how to avoid all three of those undesired outcomes.

[Language Log reader Michael Straight tells me he once heard a clip on NPR of George W. Bush talking about the need for a father to take care of "his or her children." That would be how someone might put it if they felt anxious about committing a sexist blunder but didn't have the good sense to use singular they. —GKP]

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1629#more-1629


[JTT: Added emphasis is mine]
 

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