[DWJ] Dwj Digest, Vol 34, Issue 13

Beck Laxton becklaxton at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 12 17:11:36 EDT 2008


Hi Deborah! 

This (below) was the last digest I got, and no more have turned up... Have you had any thoughts? 

Beck

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--- On Tue, 24/6/08, dwj-request at suberic.net <dwj-request at suberic.net> wrote:

> From: dwj-request at suberic.net <dwj-request at suberic.net>
> Subject: Dwj Digest, Vol 34, Issue 13
> To: dwj at suberic.net
> Date: Tuesday, 24 June, 2008, 7:11 PM
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> Today's Topics:
> 
>    1. Re: Grammar (Helen Schinske)
>    2. Re: timetravel/and other things (Elizabeth Parks)
>    3. Spelling (Sally Odgers)
>    4. Re: timetravel/and other things
> (deborah.dwj at suberic.net)
>    5. Re: other things (Colin Fine)
>    6. Re: timetravel/and other things (Colin Fine)
>    7. Re: timetravel/and other things (Elizabeth Parks)
> 
> 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Message: 1
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 09:15:31 -0700
> From: "Helen Schinske" <hschinske at aol.com>
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] Grammar
> To: <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID:
> <52050FA6EACC43CD91B3D48DD41D02D7 at HelenPC>
> Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed;
> charset="iso-8859-1";
> 	reply-type=original
> 
> 2008/6/24 <deborah.dwj at suberic.net>:
> 
> But people who insist that
> > you can use "lay" and "lie"
> interchangeably are evil demons
> > corrupting the beauty of the English language.
> 
> True dat.
> 
> Helen Schinske
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 2
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 10:24:22 -0600
> From: "Elizabeth Parks" <henx19 at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] timetravel/and other things
> To: "Diana Wynne Jones discussion"
> <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID:
> 	<4aaddf200806240924ta503d2fvd33bbef9945c78c5 at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> 
> Colin says:
> 
> 
> The analogy with music is better, and will actually make
> one of my
> points: the octave is a natural interval, implied by
> physics; but how
> you divide it up is to some degree arbitrary, and different
> cultures do
> have different scales and different ideas of tonality. For
> most people,
> what you're brought up to sounds right and anything
> else sounds
> certainly strange, and often wrong. But from a broader
> perspective, it
> is easy to see that that 'wrong' is not absolute
> but within a largely
> arbitrary set of rules and norms - and over time the norms
> change and
> what was once 'wrong' becomes quite acceptable.
> 
> 
> But here I feel like you're making -my- point for me:
> that's exactly
> it.  There's no problem with language evolution, or
> with musical
> evolution, or new influences or etc. What I do object to is
> the
> linguistic equivalent of someone making me listen to a
> concert when
> they cannot technically perform scales.  In other words,
> there's a
> difference between innovation and ignorance.  The two may
> inform each
> other, but are not interchangeable.  And it's all right
> to hum off
> key, or to write songs that integrate "errors"
> that don't quite work.
> It's all right to write messy emails and e.e.
> cummings-influenced
> poems that don't work.  I would not, however, hire
> someone who had
> never written or performed music before to make an
> advertising jingle
> for my store, any more than I would put someone with very
> little grasp
> of language in charge of my signs or written advertisments.
>  I love
> lolcats, which someone else linked, but I think they're
> funny because
> they're on purpose.  That makes a  huge difference.
> 
> I don't agree that grammar is all arbitrary, either. 
> Some of it is,
> admittedly; some of the spellings that were standardized in
> English
> are, and some of the Latin grammar that was imposed as a
> whole on
> English doesn't natively fit it, no (split infinitives,
> right?).
> There is a certain historical value to it, perhaps, or at
> least I find
> it somewhat endearing.
> 
> Deborah wrote:
> 
> I had a conversation with my boss recently in which I said
> "Language is living, except for the grammatical forms
> I care
> about keeping static."
> 
> In other words, people who insist you can't start a
> sentence with
> "however" are ridiculous and pedantic. But people
> who insist that
> you can use "lay" and "lie"
> interchangeably are evil demons
> corrupting the beauty of the English language. Everybody
> has a
> set of hypocrisies about language, and I've just shown
> you one of
> mine.
> 
> and I say:
> 
> And I think part of what we're not saying clearly here
> is how much we
> are discussing grammar and how much we are discussing
> language.  When
> I talk about grammar, I only kind of mean
> "grammar;" more, I mean that
> I wish more people had a sense of -language.-  I am (as you
> might
> guess from my membership on this list) a reader, and have
> been; I have
> read thousands of books, mostly in English, modern and
> antiquated and
> somewhere in between, and am more concerned with things
> that violate
> my sense of language than actual grammatical laws.
> 
> I do think that language is more mathematical than people
> give it
> credit for--I keep thinking back to a part in one of Steven
> Pinker's
> newer books (The Stuff of Thought, I think) where he
> discusses this
> but  I can't quite put my finger on what I'm trying
> to remember.
> Something about the way that children, during language
> aquisition,
> mis-use rules in logical ways.  Perhaps, though, law is a
> better
> comparison than mathematics for language: a semi-logical
> system that
> evolves historically with reference to culture, that
> changes with
> culture and technology and foreign influence, but that we
> base on
> things that seem to have some reason for being.  So no, I
> wouldn't say
> that mixing up (you're/your) is a sin on the level of
> murder (though
> it might be worse than eating meat on a Friday), any more
> than I would
> literally call fashion police to come and fix your
> sartorial issues.
> I have an uncle who builds costumes for theatre, and I
> imagine that a
> great many people he sees on the street distress him
> slightly--not
> because it is morally wrong to wear terrible, misfitting
> clothing, but
> because perhaps he knows how much more is possible? 
> I'm thinking this
> through as I write it, so I might recant that part later,
> but I do
> sort of feel as though many people are grammar color blind,
> which
> doesn't make them bad, exactly, just somewhat visually
> painful to
> those of us who are not.
> 
> I really want to throw the term "grammar atheist"
> in here somewhere,
> but I am running out of time ;)
> 
> lizzie, hopefully somewhat less cranky than last night ;)
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 3
> Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2008 03:04:26 +1000
> From: "Sally Odgers" <sodgers at Iinet.net.au>
> Subject: [DWJ] Spelling
> To: <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID: <002801c8d61c$5c109c80$1431d580$@net.au>
> Content-Type: text/plain;	charset="us-ascii"
> 
> Spelling - to put letters together to make words
> Spelling - to make magic
> Spelling - resting
> 
> So, why DO teachers correct 3+5 = 9 but NOT she lied down
> on the bed?????
> 
> ODWJM - Stopping for a Spell
> 
> Me usband says I attach too much importance to spelling and
> grammar. *I*
> say... and he doesn't attach too much importance to
> using the correct kind
> of cable for his audiophiling? 
> 
> I expect we all attach importance to that which we find
> important. I would
> prefer to listen to a tune I liked played on poor equipment
> than a tune I
> disliked played on audiophile equipment. He can appreciate
> tunes he dislikes
> played on audiophile equipment but cannot abide tunes he
> likes played on
> poor equipment. Mind you, we both prefer tunes we like
> played on audiophile
> equipment. Now, how can I get rid of those C&W divas, B
> Ferry and Assorted
> Jazz without him noticing?
> 
> Seen today on our walk, a sigh saying, mysteriously,
> "Clivia's".
> 
> Sight four sail?
> 
> OK, Deborah. I'll be quiet now.
> 
> S
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 4
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 13:26:22 -0400 (EDT)
> From: deborah.dwj at suberic.net
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] timetravel/and other things
> To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID:
> <Pine.LNX.4.64.0806241321230.23225 at suberic.net>
> Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
> 
> On Tue, 24 Jun 2008, Elizabeth Parks wrote:
> > And I think part of what we're not saying clearly
> here is how much we
> > are discussing grammar and how much we are discussing
> language.  When
> > I talk about grammar, I only kind of mean
> "grammar;" more, I mean that
> > I wish more people had a sense of -language.-
> 
> > I do think that language is more mathematical than
> people give it
> > credit for
> 
> 
> I get in long conversations with my linguist friend where
> we
> realize we are speaking at cross purposes because when I
> say
> "grammar" I mean the set of prescriptivist rules,
> some arbitrary
> and some not, which are taught in English classes in order
> to
> generate a shared formal spoken and written English, and
> when he
> says "grammar" he means a set of descriptivist
> semi-mathematical
> rules which describe the language as it works. Both of them
> are
> interesting, and they serve different purposes. Sometimes
> when I
> get frustrated at people using incorrect grammar they are
> only
> using incorrect prescriptive rules, but sometimes when I
> get
> frustrated by people using incorrect grammar they are also
> using
> language in a way that doesn't follow the descriptivist
> rules.
> Although that is far more rare.
> 
> And Sally, why should you be quiet? *g*
> 
> -deborah
> --
> I never metadiscourse I didn't like.
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 5
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 18:59:48 +0100
> From: Colin Fine <colin at fine.me.uk>
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] other things
> To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID: <48613614.9070102 at fine.me.uk>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> 
> Minnow wrote:
> >> Minnow wrote:
> >>     
> >>> Colin has no time for spelling (and probably
> loves the idea of cutting
> >>> everyone off from all literature published
> before his or her lifetime by
> >>> rationalising the spelling so that nobody
> could read that nasty old stuff
> >>> any more)
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>       
> >> That is a calumny!
> >>     
> >
> > I hav herd yu argyu for fonetik.  It is klerer, I am
> told.  Lyk ITA.
> >
> >   
> I don't think you have. I feel sure I should remember
> having argued from 
> such an uncharacteristic position. I may have argued that
> if some people 
> want to write phonetically I see no reason to censure them,
> but that is 
> a very different thing.
> >>>> Now Minnow will probably spit pebbles at
> me.
> >>>>         
> >>> Too much like hard work, dear boy.  I've
> just bought a house and cannot
> >>> away with your bumble-bees.
> >>>       
> >> A house? I wish you well to wear it.
> >>     
> >
> > Why thank you!
> >
> > It does have a swimming-pool... but if there is
> waterweed in that, there is
> > a problem with the filter, so I shall have to confine
> myself to the pond --
> > with frog, I am told, but I expect I can come to some
> sort of amphibious
> > treaty with the creature.
> >
> >   
> Mutual respect and non-interference.
> 
>  From other mails:
> 
> Grammar is not a matter of life and death if it is messed
> with, would be
> the argument here (I read your post out to DWJ on the
> phone, and she
> laughed delightedly and then said 'yes but' because
> she has met this: one
> of her sons is on the arts side, another on the maths).  If
> someone tampers
> with the laws of physics, thinking that precision
> doesn't matter, or uses
> centimetres instead of inches in their calculations for
> instance, the
> effect can be literally fatal: the concrete mixed to the
> wrong
> specifications makes the house fall down, the train comes
> off the wonky
> rails at speed, or the comms for the space project
> don't work, or whatever
> else.  Nobody is yet reported as having had a fatal stroke
> when faced with
> a wilfully bad bit of grammar: if they did, they died
> before they could say
> so!
> 
> Well, sometimes it can be, as Aimee pointed out. But
> generally speaking, 
> ambiguity is created not by not following the
> 'rules' but by, well, 
> being ambiguous. Following the rules of prescriptive
> grammar is neither 
> necessary nor sufficient for clarity. (Aimee's example
> is to do with a 
> failure to use punctuation to represent the rhythms and
> cadences of 
> speech: I suspect that people who have difficulty with
> punctuation have 
> been subject to teaching by rules, rather than by speaking
> aloud and 
> choosing their punctuation to reflect how they speak. I
> have no direct 
> evidence for this conclusion, however).
> 
> I have never been able to understand why if the one
> matters, the other
> doesn't.  
> 
> I'm not quite sure what the one and the other were in
> this. I'm suggesting that following the rules of
> prescriptive grammar are approximately as important as
> following the rules of dress, or cookery - but my
> observation is that many people make them much more so. 
> 
> I absolutely agree with you about what you call fuzzy
> thinking. Something that gets me even hotter under the
> collar than insistence on grammatical norms is the
> uncritical thinking that is often seen in round-robins and
> petitions.
> 
> 
> > >That's a very interesting argument, that I
> haven't heard before. I'm
> > >glad you brought it up.
> >   
> 
> I have produced precisely this point.  Blackpool. 
> Mid-evening.  At a table
> in the concourse of the Winter Gardens.  At least one
> person got so fed up
> with us that he got up and went away.  You had been exposed
> to a (possibly
> Tom Kirk's?) copy of *Eats Shoots and Leaves* and were
> feeling stroppy at
> the time so you may have missed it in the general sound and
> fury.
> 
> 
> I sit corrected. I have no memory of this. 
> 
> There are however circumstances in which the correction of
> an error of this
> sort is not simple bad manners, but the correction of
> somebody having
> written something that is the opposite of what s/he meant,
> or that is
> confusing to the point at which his/her argument is
> distorted.
> 
> Accepted. But as I indicated above, many (most?) such
> errors do not leave you in such confusion, and conversely
> some perfectly grammatical paragraphs do engender just such
> confusion (see the parallel discussion on academics, he
> said, casting nasturtiums). This argument is often trotted
> out to rationalise people's insistence on prescriptive
> grammar and spelling, and it is mostly specious. 
> 
> I am not sure I can accept that fully, because eg
> mathematics, carpentry,
> scuba-diving, are all things that require to be *taught* to
> almost every
> human being who wishes to deal with them: very few infants
> have any of
> these by 'instinct' or 'reflex', all are
> learned skills.
> 
> Indeed. But language is something that every human does
> share - and on which many people believe themselves
> qualified to judge everybody else.
> 
> Is it acceptable to judge the worth of a mathematician *as
> a mathematician*
> by whether s/he habitually misuses the
> 'punctuation' of maths by carelessly
> applying the wrong punctuation in reasoning, as it might be
> the brackets
> that have an accepted 'coded meaning' in any
> equation, or the + and -
> signs?  Is it acceptable to judge the worth of a carpenter
> *as a carpenter*
> by whether s/he uses a chisel for inserting a screw or
> tries to shape wood
> using a screwdriver?  A diver *as a diver* by whether s/he
> breathes in
> through his/her nose and out through his/her mouth rather
> than vice versa?
> 
> Of course not. But I didn't think that that was the
> issue before us. 
> 
> I would judge someone whose business is the use of words (a
> journalist, an
> author, a speaker, an advertising-copy writer) in order to
> make a point or
> persuade an audience on his or her use of words, by that
> person's use of
> words.  How else is s/he to be judged, ultimately, in
> relation to his/her
> business?
> 
> Absolutely. And conformance to norms - or departure from
> them - is one of the tools in the wordsmith's toolbox.
> Anybody who is using words professionally or for influence
> would be very well advised to understand the accepted rules
> for using them. But even here, there is more than one set:
> in some company, speaking the way you were taught in school
> will risk losing your audience (not, probably, by confusing
> them, but by alienating them).
> 
> I don't honestly care one way or the other about
> shop-signs written by
> hand: the meaning gets through, though sometimes in spite
> of rather than
> because of what has actually been written.  I *do* find
> that I care if
> someone's CV, over which s/he presumably has spent some
> time and effort, is
> a mangled linguistic mess *if what that person is applying
> for is a job in
> which the use of words will be important*.
> 
> In the same way I wouldn't care if someone put up a
> shelf in his own house
> using nails into plaster and rawlplugs into wood, but if I
> wanted to employ
> a carpenter to do the job professionally I would prefer
> these to be the
> other way round, and for the person I employed to be
> clearly aware (and
> clearly to be aware, and to be aware clearly) that there is
> a difference.
> 
> No disagreeement.
> 
> It's your perception, here, rather than a universal
> rule, as to the
> importance or otherwise of getting the basic
> building-blocks of any
> particular matter appropriately deployed.  The precise cut
> of a jacket is
> not important in particular to you or to me, though I
> presume that it is to
> a fashion pundit, just as different authors have different
> ways of using
> words (styles) and this may matter to you and me but may
> not to a
> sports-editor; wearing that jacket on your upper half
> rather than on your
> nether limbs probably *is* important to all four postulated
> parties here.
> let alone to the wearer when s/he tried to walk.  (And Pat
> Silver is so
> allergic to cinnamon that a very small amount makes her
> vomit painfully for
> as much as twenty-four hours: in her case you've used a
> really bad example,
> though I do take your point as a general rule.)
> 
> No, I think it's a good example. To Pat this is a
> crucial distinction, while to others it may not be
> noticeable until their attention is drawn to it. 
> 
> If the language is important enough for someone to be
> devoting their life
> to it *and getting it wrong* (ie to failing to make their
> point, failing to
> persuade, failing to produce a reasoned argument) then it
> ought to be
> important enough for them to find out and follow the
> presently-accepted
> general rules of their chosen trade, I would have thought. 
> Just as
> important, surely, as for a chef to find out how not to use
> inappropriate
> spices and herbs that spoil the dish for the eater.
> 
> I agree that they would be well-advised to find out the
> presently-accepted rules. I don't agree that they will
> necessarily follow them. 
> However, I accept your general point: I did not have in
> mind people for whom language is the tool of their trade,
> and was certainly not referring to deliberate flouting of
> rules.
> 
> 
> Colin
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 6
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 19:04:09 +0100
> From: Colin Fine <colin at fine.me.uk>
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] timetravel/and other things
> To: Diana Wynne Jones discussion <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID: <48613719.5020607 at fine.me.uk>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed
> 
> deborah.dwj at suberic.net wrote:
> > On Tue, 24 Jun 2008, Elizabeth Parks wrote:
> >   
> >> And I think part of what we're not saying
> clearly here is how much we
> >> are discussing grammar and how much we are
> discussing language.  When
> >> I talk about grammar, I only kind of mean
> "grammar;" more, I mean that
> >> I wish more people had a sense of -language.-
> >>     
> >
> >   
> >> I do think that language is more mathematical than
> people give it
> >> credit for
> >>     
> >
> >
> > I get in long conversations with my linguist friend
> where we
> > realize we are speaking at cross purposes because when
> I say
> > "grammar" I mean the set of prescriptivist
> rules, some arbitrary
> > and some not, which are taught in English classes in
> order to
> > generate a shared formal spoken and written English,
> and when he
> > says "grammar" he means a set of
> descriptivist semi-mathematical
> > rules which describe the language as it works. Both of
> them are
> > interesting, and they serve different purposes.
> Sometimes when I
> > get frustrated at people using incorrect grammar they
> are only
> > using incorrect prescriptive rules, but sometimes when
> I get
> > frustrated by people using incorrect grammar they are
> also using
> > language in a way that doesn't follow the
> descriptivist rules.
> > Although that is far more rare.
> >
> >   
> Absolutely.
> I recognise the prescriptivist rules as a social
> phenomenon, and (as I 
> have indicated in other posts) rank them with the rules of
> fashion or 
> cookery, or for that matter bridge. What I react against is
> people 
> treating them as though they were something far more
> weighty.
> 
> 
> Colin
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> Message: 7
> Date: Tue, 24 Jun 2008 12:11:44 -0600
> From: "Elizabeth Parks" <henx19 at gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [DWJ] timetravel/and other things
> To: "Diana Wynne Jones discussion"
> <dwj at suberic.net>
> Message-ID:
> 	<4aaddf200806241111y767d97fan981bfc2725a74e6a at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> 
> > Absolutely.
> > I recognise the prescriptivist rules as a social
> phenomenon, and (as I
> > have indicated in other posts) rank them with the
> rules of fashion or
> > cookery, or for that matter bridge. What I react
> against is people
> > treating them as though they were something far more
> weighty.
> >
> >
> > Colin
> >
> 
> Wheras I think it's utterly ridiculous to rank bridge
> (which, after
> all, has a shorter time frame, and is also not used by
> almost every
> living person) as the equal in importance of language,
> which
> influences all human communication, including legal and
> religious
> systems.
> 
> But I've never played bridge so I might be
> underestimating it.
> 
> lizzie
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------
> 
> _______________________________________________
> Dwj mailing list
> Dwj at suberic.net
> http://www.suberic.net/mailman/listinfo/dwj
> 
> 
> End of Dwj Digest, Vol 34, Issue 13
> ***********************************


      



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