Chefelf.com Night Life: Some Things I'm Sick Of - Chefelf.com Night Life

Jump to content

  • (4 Pages)
  • +
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Some Things I'm Sick Of Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#31 User is offline   civilian_number_two Icon

  • Canada's Next Top Model.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Head Moderator
  • Posts: 3,380
  • Joined: 01-November 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Your Dreams
  • Interests:I like stuff.
  • Country:Canada

Posted 29 October 2008 - 04:05 AM

QUOTE
But if we are going to start talking about the rules, then admit it.

It's fucking wrong.


Orator: says who?

The examples you gave are of games that an individual or small group invented. Those rules are therefore fixed on a time and place, and rigid. If you don't play by those rules, then arguably you are playing a different game. English grammar is not analogous as it was not invented by any such individual or board of governors, and noone presides over its so-called "rules."

As for the alleged rule of say, never ending a sentence on a preposition, the Victorian wanker to whom I referred was actually the 17th-century poet and dramatist John Dryden, and he invented the "rule" using material he found in his ass. There are numerous perfectly acceptable English phrases that necessarily end in prepositions, and there was a long tradition of ending sentences with prepositions before he ever made his claim. Here, you can read up on that one between turns of your bastardised games of monopoly or pool (and pay attention to the very important comment about adverbs, a common target of the hyper-corrective):

http://www.bartleby....4/C001/050.html

The consideration of adverbs technically disqualifies Churchill's famous rebuttal to the rule, but it's funny all the same. While that page cites no examples of awesomely famous sentences that end in prepositions, I invite you to read Hamlet's soliloquy on suicide. When deciding whether grammar ought to be descriptive or descriptive, I will side with Shakespeare over Dryden every time.

Starting a sentence with "but:" like I said, the "rule" is not to write a sentence fragment. Extrapolating from that that the word "but" cannot begin a sentence is derived from the unrealistic assumption that it is impossible to begin a sentence with a subordinate clause and then to end it with the main clause. This "rule" then is thrust upon every child from the first grade until the end of high school. The origin of this preposterous "rule" is unkown, but it is incorrect. It is in fact common to have a subordinate clause begin a compound sentence, and many subordinate clauses begin with "but." Grammaticalkly correct sentences beginning with "but" - sentences that would suffer the red ink of a traditional schoolteacher - re common. On a whim, I googled the Declaration of Independence and found that the final sentence of its second paragraph begins with "but." It is indeed a fragment of a sentence, possibly bringing the larger rule into question. How frequently do sentences not contain the full subject-verb-object structure? Frequently. Commonly when describing a series of events, as happens later in that same document.

The next paragraph begins with a common and correct sentence beginnig with "and:"

And while we're at it, the "passive" voice, frequently cast as an error in traditional grammar (you will get correction suggestions if you grammar check your sentences in Microsoft Word) is so far from being an erroneous "voice" that it approaches absurdity. The passive voice is in fact rather frequently necessary, and nut just to avoid responsivility as its opponents like to claim. It should be used when necessary.

If these things exist in writing, and have done so for centuries, who is it that is declaring them to be wrong? I know where you're going, Orator, with your attempted rebuttal fo the "common usage" argument: even a billion people can't make a word out of "irregardless" (or so goes the argument). But I am not even talking about common errors compounded by popularity. I am not talkjing about Faulkner's idiot-speech or Joyce's stream-of-consciousness. I am talking about commonplace and mainstream (ie non-experimental) writing styles that trace back to the origins of the written language. When I compare these with the alleged "rules" against them, I am forced to mention that some of these rules can be traced to individuals talking out of their asses and that others have no discernible origin at all.

Since we're listing things we hate, I suppose I hate what I am doing right now. By attacking the hated activity of internet pedantry, I am guilty of it myself.

"I had a lot of different ideas. At one point, Luke, Leia and Ben were all going to be little people, and we did screen tests to see if we could do that." -George Lucas, in STAR WARS: the Annotated Screenplays (p197).
0

#32 User is offline   Jen Icon

  • Mrs. Chefelf
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 408
  • Joined: 30-October 03
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:The wilds of Spanish Canada in NYC
  • Interests:Being Chefelf's girlfriend has been an interest of mine for some time now. I also enjoy am interested in packing, unpacking, and organizing acres of cardboard boxes into a livable structure.
  • Country:Nothing Selected

Posted 30 October 2008 - 03:35 PM

Okay, to go on a commonly-misunderstood-"rules"-of-English tangent ...

(I'm not going to look any facts up to support this, at all, so take that at face value):

I believe fake rules against beginning sentences with ''but' and 'and' grow out of a similar misunderstanding about ending sentences with a preposition, which loads of people will tell you you can't do in English but in fact is perfectly fine. Ex: "The guy I went to school with" which will often be recast as "the guy with which I went to school." In French (which post-Norman conquest had a huge influence on the vocab, if not as much the structure) of English, you cannot end a sentence with a preposition because the sentence won't make sense. But the English equivalent (much like its Saxon forebearer, I believe?) it's perfectly comprehensible. And it's perfectly correct. Hooray for erronous English teachers! They inspire so much confusion. And snobbishness (re: me).
0

#33 User is offline   Gobbler Icon

  • God damn it, Nappa.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 4,560
  • Joined: 26-December 05
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:Three octaves down to your left.
  • Interests:Thermonuclear warfare and other pleasantries.
  • Country:Nothing Selected

Posted 30 October 2008 - 03:49 PM

We should waste our energy on complaining about stuff that is really annoying, like... for example: "I definately would of done that." Two things, always run a shiver down my spine, even though I'm not exactly in the perfect position to file such complaints.

Quote

Pop quiz, hotshot. Garry Kasparov is coming to kill you, and the only way to change his mind is for you to beat him at chess. What do you do, what do you do?
0

#34 User is offline   TheOrator Icon

  • Soothsayer
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 508
  • Joined: 25-January 07
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:United States

Posted 30 October 2008 - 10:06 PM

To answer your first question, the Modern Language Association.


Now to my point:

Language has always been known only to the minority, with the majority uneducated about most proper usage rules.

I do not consider the modern day to be an exception.

Rules of grammar are not laws of physics; I cannot say that since something has happened that breaks a rule, there is no such rule, not even if Shakespeare himself (who knew about as much grammar as a kindergartener anyway, considering most of these rules weren't even around yet) says it.

Rules of grammar are like judicial laws, perhaps something like jaywalking. Everyone jaywalks and nobody's getting arrested for it, but it's still illegal, so you can't argue it in court, even if you could justify it both by precedent and morally.

And your point about starting a sentence with but, and the subordinate clauses and all, is valid but doesn't apply to the rule Hecc brought up. It is implicit in this rule that such cases are excluded, much like society and conscience aren't exceptions to the "I before E except after C" rule, because that applies implicitly to instances where the two letters make one sound where in the mentioned words they make two separate sounds.

Finding a sentence fragment in the Declaration of Independence does not at all bring the rule into question. Even ignoring what seems to be an argument of "If Thomas Jefferson did it, it must be right," a sentence is by definition a phrase containing a subject and a verb. Anything less is not a sentence.

If you are going to argue common usage (even by intellectuals) indicates correctness, I would argue back that beyond language being an artificial social construction, language is a personal construction. Anything that makes sense could be considered correct English.

However, what makes sense is subjective, because people have all different experiences and all think differently. Communication therefore requires a set of rules, a common experience, to unify the speakers of the language.

The rules of English, as they are, may well be arbitrary, but I can imagine that any other set would be just as.



Also, Jen, you say it's "perfectly fine" but provide no evidence for that, unless "comprehensible" passes for right these days.
"I've come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."
-John Carpenter's They Live

"God help us...in the future."
-Plan 9 from Outer Space


nooooo
0

#35 User is offline   Heccubus Icon

  • Ugh.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Head Moderator
  • Posts: 4,954
  • Joined: 30-October 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:Canada

Posted 30 October 2008 - 10:37 PM

Am I the only one who finds this entire debate to be utterly hilarious? To think it all started with a tiny remark that I made as a half joke.

This post has been edited by Heccubus: 30 October 2008 - 10:38 PM

0

#36 User is offline   Spoon Poetic Icon

  • Pimpin'
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Moderators
  • Posts: 2,876
  • Joined: 27-September 05
  • Gender:Female
  • Country:United States

Posted 31 October 2008 - 12:12 AM

Um... Orator, you're breaking the very rules you're arguing against breaking... ??

And Hecc, you're not alone, I'm also finding it entertaining. happy.gif
I am writing about Jm in my signature because apparently it's an effective method of ignoring him.
0

#37 User is offline   TheOrator Icon

  • Soothsayer
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 508
  • Joined: 25-January 07
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:United States

Posted 31 October 2008 - 12:18 AM

Like I said earlier about Monopoly, and then Jaywalking, I'm not against breaking them, I just acknowledge that they are rules. This is the Internet, and, more significantly, conversation, and I am under no obligation to speak anything but colloquially. It was Heccubus who brought up the actual breaking of rules, and apparently as a joke.

EDIT: Yes, I find it kinda silly, too. I like getting caught up in the silly things, though. The serious things suck.

This post has been edited by TheOrator: 31 October 2008 - 12:20 AM

"I've come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."
-John Carpenter's They Live

"God help us...in the future."
-Plan 9 from Outer Space


nooooo
0

#38 User is offline   civilian_number_two Icon

  • Canada's Next Top Model.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Head Moderator
  • Posts: 3,380
  • Joined: 01-November 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Your Dreams
  • Interests:I like stuff.
  • Country:Canada

Posted 31 October 2008 - 07:20 PM

So this "Modern Language Association" bought the copyright to English, and then proscribed rules for it? And these are the rules that must be adhered to if one is to avoid the wrath of the Modern Language Association?

Ok, got it. I stand by everything I said. And I am not saying that "common usage" dictates the laws of language; I am saying that common usage shows how erroneous certain specific "rules" to be. Look up the rules in question in this particular conversation and you'll find that very few serious linguists consider them to be correct descriptions of English grammar. In fact, the "rules" are attempts to codify common usage as law, so far from being the cause of my resistance, the argument of common usage is the root of the argument.

Saying Shakespeare didn't obey the rules because he was stupid and also because they hadn't been invented yet calls into question how all those folks wrote anything at all before this Modern Language Association came along. But the "he was uneducated" argument doesn't hold for Thomas Jefferson; I didn't name him as some form of appeal to authority, but to point out that well-spoken and educated gentlemen disobey these so-called "rules" simply because they didn't go to the same grade schools we did. Jefferson is a response to the typical argument that "just because Shakespeare broke these rules doesn't mean anything; he had little formal education." Jefferson did. He didn't break these rules in his formal document because he was a bad writer, and he didn't break them to be controversial. He broke them because they weren't rules to begin with.

Let me get back to this "common usage" bugaboo. Like your I and E example, saying that something is commonly a certain way and so therefore it must always be that was is the wrong way to describe language. Like you say in that example, I precedes E in a lot of words, with notable exceptions. The "rule" is in fact just a mnemonic, and doesn't help when trying to spell words like weigh or sleigh or so forth.

If John Dryden had said, "in general, a preposition seldom appears at the end of a sentence" (and really he meant clause), he would have more adequately described the language, like you suggested with your I and E example. But trying to take an example of common usage and then to try to make a rule out of it (and to inspire others to try to take command of the language, like your Modern Langauge Asociation) is pretentious.

PS: Hi Jen!

PPS: Not all correct English sentences require a subject and a verb. Sometimes either one or the other is left out, or implied, and the sentence is correct. Consider the following exchange. "Get out of here." "No."

PPPS: I was mistaken earlier with what I said about Churchill. His rebuttal of the preposition "rule" is perfectly correct. I put my error down to being confused after limited sleep. I blush.

This post has been edited by civilian_number_two: 01 November 2008 - 03:55 AM
Reason for edit:: added some Postscripts

"I had a lot of different ideas. At one point, Luke, Leia and Ben were all going to be little people, and we did screen tests to see if we could do that." -George Lucas, in STAR WARS: the Annotated Screenplays (p197).
0

#39 User is offline   Jen Icon

  • Mrs. Chefelf
  • PipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 408
  • Joined: 30-October 03
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:The wilds of Spanish Canada in NYC
  • Interests:Being Chefelf's girlfriend has been an interest of mine for some time now. I also enjoy am interested in packing, unpacking, and organizing acres of cardboard boxes into a livable structure.
  • Country:Nothing Selected

Posted 31 October 2008 - 10:38 PM

Hi Civ! As always, a pleasure to read your cogent, impeccable prose. happy.gif
0

#40 User is offline   TheOrator Icon

  • Soothsayer
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 508
  • Joined: 25-January 07
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:United States

Posted 01 November 2008 - 12:03 PM

So your argument then is not that rules confine the English language, but define it?

I think then we've been arguing different points this whole time.

And the I before E rule's full text is

I before E, except after C
Or when pronounced like an A
As in Neighbor and Weigh.

I also never said Shakespeare was stupid, thank you very much, and I did not say writing English was impossible before the Modern Language Association was around.

Thomas Jefferson, also, did not speak the same kind of English we did, and the same rules do not apply. Benjamin Franklin was well-educated, for instance, but he still capitalized every noun. That would probably be called incorrect these days. Maybe that's just me.

And like I said, civ, just "No" may be fine English but it is by definition not a complete sentence.

http://www.bartleby....68/28/2628.html

I of course know sentences where the subject or noun is implied are correct, because they are still present. The sentence is still constructed around them.


QUOTE (Civ)
In fact, the "rules" are attempts to codify common usage as law, so far from being the cause of my resistance, the argument of common usage is the root of the argument.


QUOTE (Civ)
...saying that something is commonly a certain way and so therefore it must always be that was is the wrong way to describe language.


If I am reading this correctly, doesn't that seem to imply English has no legitimate rules at all?
Because...you've actually convinced me of that.
"I've come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."
-John Carpenter's They Live

"God help us...in the future."
-Plan 9 from Outer Space


nooooo
0

#41 User is offline   civilian_number_two Icon

  • Canada's Next Top Model.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Head Moderator
  • Posts: 3,380
  • Joined: 01-November 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:In Your Dreams
  • Interests:I like stuff.
  • Country:Canada

Posted 01 November 2008 - 01:04 PM

QUOTE (TheOrator @ Nov 1 2008, 12:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And the I before E rule's full text is

I before E, except after C
Or when pronounced like an A
As in Neighbor and Weigh.

Wow. You're tenacious. Ok, you already proposed other exceptions, such as when the I and E create separate sounds, so words like "deity" and "science" shouldn't be considered. I suppose you would also except dipthongs like "height, "seize" and "weird," none of which rhyme with weigh. Well, what about dipthongs that appear to follow the rule, like "piece?" Would you also have a "rule" to except the pluralization of words encing in "cy," such as "fallacies," frequencies," etc?

There is no I and E rule. The little rhyme is a mnemonic and nothing more. Many English "rules" are just that - mnemonics designed to help you to write correct English. But if you know better, the mnemonic won't be necessary. That is, if you know how to spell words to which the I and E mnemonic does not apply, you can ignore it, and not pretend that it is a "rule." The same is true of many other cases in English writing, such as the so-called preposition rules, the conjunction sentence starter, the notion that you need a noun for a sentence (and no, if there is no noun in a sentence, the "implied" noun is still not there), the passive voice, etc. The "rules" may be helpful to consider when looking to see whether a sentence is correct, but they are not firm. They are helpful reminders after all, and no more (well, not the preposition one; that's just completely wrong and not descriptive of formal writing. It never has been. It was just an invention of one guy and it never caught on; or at best it had a brief stint of popularity, like acid-wash jeans). Correct sentences may be written which appear to break these so-called "rules."

The shakespeare argument: Ok, you didn't use the word stupid, but I have seen this argument before. It always goes like this:
language cop: you can't end a sentence with a preposition.
detractor: Shakespeare did.
language cop: Shakespeare was uneducated and can hardly be considered an example of correct grammar.
detractor: Ok, what about [educated example, say Thomas Jefferson].
language cop: Just because educated people write incorrect sentences doesn't make the sentences correct. You are using an appeal to authority.
detractor: Arguable, but aren't these so-called rules meant to describe the language? If they don't, then where did they come from? [and are you really saying that the Declaration of Independence is full of bad grammar?]
language cop: [Some appeal to authority, in your case the Modern Language Association].

I still hold that uneducated Shakespeare did as much to define the language as any other important writer. And the point worth mentioning in the cases where he broke these rules of grammar is that the sentences sound correct. It is not the case that the educated reader sees them and declares "well the grammar is all wrong, so that it rankles, but the language and the poetry nonetheless is accomplished so we forgive him his faults." The fact is the only time anyone mentions Shakespeare's grammar is not to mention that he was uneducated and a poor writer, but as a counter-example when someone else tries to declare that there are fixed and formal rules for writing correct English that shall apply in all cases. There are not.

This post has been edited by civilian_number_two: 01 November 2008 - 01:06 PM

"I had a lot of different ideas. At one point, Luke, Leia and Ben were all going to be little people, and we did screen tests to see if we could do that." -George Lucas, in STAR WARS: the Annotated Screenplays (p197).
0

#42 User is offline   Heccubus Icon

  • Ugh.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Head Moderator
  • Posts: 4,954
  • Joined: 30-October 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:Canada

Posted 01 November 2008 - 11:01 PM

It's ridiculous that I feel I should move one of Mr. Elf's blog entries to the fucking debate club.
0

#43 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

  • LittleHorse Fan
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Admin
  • Posts: 4,522
  • Joined: 30-October 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:New York, NY
  • Country:United States

Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:05 AM

QUOTE (TheOrator @ Nov 1 2008, 01:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And the I before E rule's full text is

I before E, except after C
Or when pronounced like an A
As in Neighbor and Weigh.


. . . and on weekends and holidays
And all throughout May,
And you'll always be wrong,
No matter WHAT YOU SAY!

See Chefelf in a Movie! -> The People vs. George Lucas

Buy the New LittleHorse CD, Strangers in the Valley!
CD Baby | iTunes | LittleHorse - Flight of the Bumblebee Video

Chefelf on: Twitter | friendfeed | Jaiku | Bitstrips | Muxtape | Mento | MySpace | Flickr | YouTube | LibraryThing
0

#44 User is offline   TheOrator Icon

  • Soothsayer
  • PipPipPipPip
  • Group: Members
  • Posts: 508
  • Joined: 25-January 07
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:United States

Posted 02 November 2008 - 10:36 AM

Since I've already said you've won, something you oddly failed to acknowledge, I'll only say I did not say society was an exception and the I before E rule is not a rule to be followed but a rule to describe and I never implied it was otherwise. I did not provide the full text of the rule to try and prove any point any further than you saying it doesn't help with words like weigh and sleigh.

The only question I have left is by what standards do you use the word correct? If there are no rules to judge a sentence by, when is a sentence correct, and more significantly, when is a sentence incorrect?

EDIT: This whole argument came from us using two different ideas about what rules of English do. I'm not sure, in your argument, you could get the person you're arguing with to agree that the rules are rules to describe and not rules to be followed.

And I did not use an "appeal to authority" with the MLA. You asked "Says who?" and said who said. And you have not at all responded to the idea that the English of 200 years ago was different.

This post has been edited by TheOrator: 02 November 2008 - 10:43 AM

"I've come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum."
-John Carpenter's They Live

"God help us...in the future."
-Plan 9 from Outer Space


nooooo
0

#45 User is offline   Heccubus Icon

  • Ugh.
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • Group: Head Moderator
  • Posts: 4,954
  • Joined: 30-October 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Country:Canada

Posted 02 November 2008 - 11:36 AM

Oh Jesus tapdancing Christ. Enough.

This post has been edited by Heccubus: 02 November 2008 - 01:32 PM
Reason for edit:: Re-opened so that you can continue with this utterly pointless debate.

0

  • (4 Pages)
  • +
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4


Fast Reply

  • Decrease editor size
  • Increase editor size