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  • Gerontophile
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    First 3 are bollocks, 4th is meh, and I have never, EVER heard of a worry concerning the 5th.

    Internet toss. Who cares? (although, like now, I started a sentence in my English O Grade with But, and sorted the invigilators out about it. Didnt matter, I can still spoke England grater than yow)

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  • Bordeaux Education
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    Hmm, yes, very droll (said in a Stephen Fry manner)

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  • Andy C
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    I used to write technical manuals for a company that had the rule that no sentence could have more than 21 words in it (actually, you could get a dispensation to write a 24-word sentence, but you had to apply to a senior director for permission). The reason was that much of the documentation had to be translated and they wanted to use translation software to do as much of the work as possible. The discipline worked: it forced you to confine each sentence to expressing a single idea. Not only did it aid the translation work, it resulted in documentation that was clearly expressed and free from difficult-to-follow conditionals and similar constructions.

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  • hobbes
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    I can't help feeling that a knowledge of coolons and semi-colons may have been useful in that second paragraph
    Why would LED lighting specialists have helped? Would they have illuminated your meaning?
    Arf arf

    http://www.coolon.com.au/

    Leave a comment:


  • treibeis
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    They can't write a sentence with more than a dozen words in it.

    A blustering oaf at work tried to ban me from writing any sentence with more than eight words in it. ("People don't wanna read flowery language. They wanna read Feature, Function, Benefit!" )

    Even when I pointed out that at least five-eighths of any sentence would be taken up by the name of the product I was writing about, he still didn't shut it.

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  • Bordeaux Education
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    I have to admit that most of those flew over my head as I ignore most of the rules anyway (you may have noticed)

    The main way I feel that pedants are wrong is that they correct people on grammatical mistakes whereas I understand that it is better just to use better grammar yourself as a good example.

    This is certainly the case in teaching children, as I understand it.

    I can't help feeling that a knowledge of coolons and semi-colons may have been useful in that second paragraph

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  • erwin
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    .

    No.
    Ah.

    .

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  • hobbes
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    More importantly, where is the "Pendants are wrong" thread?

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  • Wyatt Earp
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    No.

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  • erwin
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    .

    none = not one

    .

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  • TonTon
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    I'm sorry. "None" is always singular in my head. I don't get the argument at all - I mean, it just doesn't make any sense to me.

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  • Alderman Barnes
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    Do you ever read the Spiegel, Pan Tau?

    I'm translating an article from it at the moment and their house style is driving me bloody mad.

    They can't write a sentence with more than a dozen words in it. And every one begins with und. Or oder. Except if it starts with aber. And every other sentence ends with a colon: like that.

    And they never talk about things that happened in the past in the past tense. They do it in the present. To make it more exciting. And it's chock full of smartarse puns. And alliteration. As well.

    Every article that deals with any kind of scandal reads like a Raymond Chandler novel. But a really shit one.

    Not that this has anything to do with English - I just had to get it off my chest. Sorry.

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  • G-Man
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    Excellent point by E10, and lots of good points by Reed.

    When subbing, obviously one must take into account the nature of the article. I'd automatically edit a sentence beginning with a conjunction in a news report, and avoid it in an editorial leader, as a matter of style. But I'd happily let it slide in a conversational column (or a message board post). Having said that, I have one columnist who in a 800 word piece will routinely start a sentence with "But", plus a comma, something like seven times, which is grating.

    Infinitives are there to be split, as I defiantly told a "purist" colleague last week. Whatever flows, man.

    I didn't know that there was a rule about "none" always being singular. It's a totally illogical proposition.

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  • Wyatt Earp
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    A few of us have been banging away about, I think, all five of these on here for years, off and on, usually in response to spurious corrections or "Don't you hate it when"s. Shows how much notice etc. Sniff.

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  • Andy C
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

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  • erwin
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    .

    Hooray for #5!

    .

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  • boris
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    toro toro toro toro wrote:
    Great article.

    When I think about the rules of grammar I sometimes recall the story—and it’s a true one—about a lecture given in the 1950s by an eminent British philosopher of language. He remarked that in some languages two negatives make a positive, but in no language do two positives make a negative. A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, yeah.”
    J.L. Austin was the Brit - the unidentified "voice", almost certainly from the front of the room, was the utterly godlike Sidney Morgenbesser.
    I thought that the unidentified "voice" actually piped up "yeah, right"?

    Leave a comment:


  • Reed John
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    Yes. In the case of my profession, I want to be able to convey the maximum amount of information with the fewest words while still being clear. Of course, it has to be interesting to our readers, but they are all being well paid to care about this rather boring stuff so that's a pretty low bar.

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  • Andy C
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    But it depends on how formal you want the writing to be. And Clive's point about being sensitive to the rhythms of spoken speech holds here too: less formal writing is often closer to spoken patterns.

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  • Reed John
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    In my experience, starting a sentence, especially if it starts a paragraph, with a conjunction is usually bad style. Sometimes it makes sense, but but nine times out of ten when I'm editing stuff and the writer has done that, I rewrite the sentence because I can find a more direct way to say the same thing.

    Starting a sentence with "but" is usually just a short way of saying "however." Ideally, you can find a way to tie the sentences together with a "despite" or "even with" or something like that. But sometimes its the best way to go as long as one doesn't do it five times in a row.

    Most "and"s at the beginning of sentences are usually superfluous and removable. English teachers have pounded the idea of "transition" into kids heads, so I see a lot of young writers putting all sorts of extraneous "And" and "Also" and "In addition to x, also y" constructions to start paragraphs.

    I find that usually most readers can infer the "in addition to" from the position of the sentence on the page in relation to the one telling what it's in addition to. (assuming it's in english which in my case, it always is) Again, if possible, it's better to explain substantive connection than just "this happened and then that happened," but if there isn't a connection, then tossing in an "and" or "also" doesn't help.

    Same with that "whose" rule. There's usually a way around the whole problem which makes the sentence more direct and simpler. I think the best way to say that particular sentence. would be "Don't buy a car with a shot engine." Problem solved.

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  • evilC
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    E10 Rifle wrote:
    I'd stick up for the comma after "and" too, though not always. But that's the point: you've got to think aesthetically, about the rhythm and nature of what you're saying, and punctuate accordingly. Sometimes this involves a lot of punctuation, other times rather less.
    You see, that's precisely what I do. I tend to disregard the rules and just think of 'the rhythm', if you like. I think of how I mean it sound if I spoke it (usually so as to emphasise when I'm saying something ironically or in jest).

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  • E10 Rifle
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    I'd stick up for the comma after "and" too, though not always. But that's the point: you've got to think aesthetically, about the rhythm and nature of what you're saying, and punctuate accordingly. Sometimes this involves a lot of punctuation, other times rather less.

    Leave a comment:


  • Brandenburger Toro
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    Great article.

    When I think about the rules of grammar I sometimes recall the story—and it’s a true one—about a lecture given in the 1950s by an eminent British philosopher of language. He remarked that in some languages two negatives make a positive, but in no language do two positives make a negative. A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, yeah.”
    J.L. Austin was the Brit - the unidentified "voice", almost certainly from the front of the room, was the utterly godlike Sidney Morgenbesser.

    Leave a comment:


  • Spearmint Rhino
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    The comma after 'and' is one of my favourite constructions. They'll take that away from me when they prise my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

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  • Andy C
    replied
    Pedants are wrong

    You should never use a comma after the word "and."
    You are wrong and, for the purposes of illustration, a hideously ugly freak.

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