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dmitchell
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:09 am    Post subject: Wars of words: prescriptivists vs descriptivists Reply with quote

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In one very specific way, American Heritage may have seemed unconservative. It was the first American dictionary to publish an entry for the F-word. Opinions differ on the ideological color of this decision, however. If by “conservative” one means “conscious of linguistic history in all its variety,” then dropping the F-bomb into the encyclopedic pages of a family-friendly dictionary was perfectly righteous.

Though the usage panel has endured as a symbol of linguistic authority, its role in the making of the dictionary is necessarily minor relative to the work of the actual lexicographers. Where its influence is sometimes visible is in the dictionary’s excellent usage notes, which often report what percentage of the panel’s members approve of a given usage and also whether that percentage has been stable in the last four decades.

Consider the traditionalist distinction between comprise and compose, best remembered in the formula “the whole comprises the parts; the parts compose the whole.” According to the new edition, in the 1960s, 53 percent of the panel objected to The union is comprised of fifty states while only 35 percent objected as late as 1996.

Recently, I came across a list of comments by early usage panelists that give the flavor of their hidden editorializing, often solicited in reaction to example sentences such as “He invited Mary and myself” and “Neither Mr. Jones nor myself is in favor of this.” Red Smith, the sportswriter, said myself in the first example was “unforgivable,” adding that “myself is the refuge of idiots taught early that me is a dirty word.”

Katherine Anne Porter is quoted more than once in these comments, which I found in the papers of Dwight Macdonald at the Yale University Library. As in her austerely correct prose, Porter preferred to take a hard line. She called it a “vicious, ignorant misuse” to employ nauseous (instead of nauseated) to mean “feeling nausea,” and 88 percent of the panel agreed with her. Three decades later, the majority was a minority, as 61 percent of the usage panel approved of this “misuse” in the sentence “Roller coasters make me nauseous.” The “conservative” dictionary thus observes that “the word presents a classic example of a word whose traditional, ‘correct’ usage is being supplanted by a newer, ‘incorrect’ one.” more...

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Bones McCracker
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The dictionary is just a guideline, like the Constitution. :P

Proper usage is not always essential to being understood, but nuances of meaning are lost when the writer and reader lack a common understanding of words. To one degree or another, most take improper usage to indicate lack of education, stupidity, or muddled thinking.

It is, however, an always moving target.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just remembered why I ditched my major in Japanology and decided on something productive. While I do find it interesting how languages evolve, I can never take these guys seriously. Some of them have levels of dedication that are simply nauseating.

Also, putting fuck in a dictionary = win. Writing it as f*** = fail. "f*ck" too, but that's really just obnoxious. It's really just a word. No reason to get all worked up about it.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BoneKracker wrote:
Proper usage is not always essential to being understood, but nuances of meaning are lost when the writer and reader lack a common understanding of words.

1/ Can you figure out the difference between a keyboard and the keyboard you get here and now under your fingers ?
OK then

2/ I bet that you do not know the word xyz and don't know Uvw either.
So I presume do not get any understanding of these words.

Can't you more or less decode : Uvw's xyzth symphony ?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aCOSwt wrote:
BoneKracker wrote:
Proper usage is not always essential to being understood, but nuances of meaning are lost when the writer and reader lack a common understanding of words.

1/ Can you figure out the difference between a keyboard and the keyboard you get here and now under your fingers ?
OK then

2/ I bet that you do not know the word xyz and don't know Uvw either.
So I presume do not get any understanding of these words.

Can't you more or less decode : Uvw's xyzth symphony ?
while proper diction is important, you should stick to examples made by typical dyslexics for that argument to stick...
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Bones McCracker
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aCOSwt wrote:
BoneKracker wrote:
Proper usage is not always essential to being understood, but nuances of meaning are lost when the writer and reader lack a common understanding of words.

1/ Can you figure out the difference between a keyboard and the keyboard you get here and now under your fingers ?
OK then

Sorry, but I am unable to understand what you mean by "the keyboard you get here".

aCOSwt wrote:
2/ I bet that you do not know the word xyz and don't know Uvw either.
So I presume do not get any understanding of these words.

Can't you more or less decode : Uvw's xyzth symphony ?

Information is not solely conveyed by individual words in isolation. Their combination and their context also convey meaning. This is why dictionaries have multiple definitions for words, and why examples are provided in context. Divining the meaning of the unintelligible from context is a standard error-correction algorithm.

Usage is not about words, but their combination.
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Last edited by Bones McCracker on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mdeininger wrote:
I just remembered why I ditched my major in Japanology and decided on something productive. While I do find it interesting how languages evolve, I can never take these guys seriously. Some of them have levels of dedication that are simply nauseating.

Also, putting fuck in a dictionary = win. Writing it as f*** = fail. "f*ck" too, but that's really just obnoxious. It's really just a word. No reason to get all worked up about it.


What get's me is even though there are almost 6600 words in English starting with "F", idiots always assume "f" followed by any number or type of non-alphbetical symbols must mean some varient of the word "fuck".

F. Scott Fitzgerald, must have the first name Fuck, there can be no other possibility in their little brains.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mdeininger wrote:
No reason to get all worked up about it.
Makes at least as much sense as getting worked up about a few non-alpha characters mixed in.


NotQuiteSane wrote:
F. Scott Fitzgerald, must have the first name Fuck, there can be no other possibility in their little brains.
I seriously doubt anyone thinks that. And there is what reason for mixing in non-alpha characters into "mundane" words? Pretty much none, unless you're trying to convey a vulgarity.
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mdeininger
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NotQuiteSane wrote:
mdeininger wrote:
I just remembered why I ditched my major in Japanology and decided on something productive. While I do find it interesting how languages evolve, I can never take these guys seriously. Some of them have levels of dedication that are simply nauseating.

Also, putting fuck in a dictionary = win. Writing it as f*** = fail. "f*ck" too, but that's really just obnoxious. It's really just a word. No reason to get all worked up about it.


What get's me is even though there are almost 6600 words in English starting with "F", idiots always assume "f" followed by any number or type of non-alphbetical symbols must mean some varient of the word "fuck".

F. Scott Fitzgerald, must have the first name Fuck, there can be no other possibility in their little brains.

NQS
:lol: true. and with how well most of them are at reading, they probably manage to read "fuck" into "Fitzgerald" too.

pjp wrote:
mdeininger wrote:
No reason to get all worked up about it.
Makes at least as much sense as getting worked up about a few non-alpha characters mixed in.
actually I didn't, but reading it now it do realise it might look like it because it has "fuck" it in...

here's the thing: it's a word that is in very common use, ergo it should be in a dictionary. if some people don't like it, they should just grow up. simple as that.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BoneKracker wrote:
aCOSwt wrote:
BoneKracker wrote:
Proper usage is not always essential to being understood, but nuances of meaning are lost when the writer and reader lack a common understanding of words.

1/ Can you figure out the difference between a keyboard and the keyboard you get here and now under your fingers ?
OK then

Sorry, but I am unable to understand what you mean by "the keyboard you get here".

OK then is hic & nunc more meaningful to you ?
Then what I mean is : Can you figure out the difference between a keyboard and the_keyboard_you_get_hic_&_nunc_under_your_fingers ?
In other words the difference between a concept and a particular occurrence of this concept having some existence ? / reality ? for you, that is again to say an occurrence of a concept realized at a given time in a given space.
In other other other words, the difference between f(x,y,z,t) and f(2,12,-5,37) ?
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Bones McCracker
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BoneKracker wrote:
Yes.

:lol:
OK... Could we speed up a bit please ?
Can you word this difference ?
Would you agree if we word it : "Personal experience" ?
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energyman76b
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NotQuiteSane wrote:
mdeininger wrote:
I just remembered why I ditched my major in Japanology and decided on something productive. While I do find it interesting how languages evolve, I can never take these guys seriously. Some of them have levels of dedication that are simply nauseating.

Also, putting fuck in a dictionary = win. Writing it as f*** = fail. "f*ck" too, but that's really just obnoxious. It's really just a word. No reason to get all worked up about it.


What get's me is even though there are almost 6600 words in English starting with "F", idiots always assume "f" followed by any number or type of non-alphbetical symbols must mean some varient of the word "fuck".

F. Scott Fitzgerald, must have the first name Fuck, there can be no other possibility in their little brains.

NQS


wait, I always assumed he was the guy with the coolest name ever - and you are trying to tell me that he was not named Fuck? Fuck!
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Bones McCracker
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aCOSwt wrote:
BoneKracker wrote:
Yes.

:lol:
OK... Could we speed up a bit please ?
Can you word this difference ?
Would you agree if we word it : "Personal experience" ?

I think I would call it "semiotics".

Is that fast enough for you? :P
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BoneKracker wrote:
I think I would call it "semiotics".
Is that fast enough for you? :P

:lol:
Hmmm... it's up to you, you know.
If from then, you are able to correct the sentence I quoted from your first post then... the speed is OK.

IF you are still not able to, then, I am afraid that we went too fast or... that we do not share the same understanding of semiotics... But... who can ?
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