Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ben X

Didactic Thumbs (Pedantry Corner)

Recommended Posts

This might be a bad idea, but I often find myself wanting to correct or question someone's grammar/turn of phrase without derailing the conversation or coming across as an arsehole. So here's a thread where people can correct each other and get into silly semantic arguments without destroying the forum, and which people can ignore if they don't want to read corrections of their hastily-written nonsense.

 

I hope this doesn't come across as mean-spirited. Personally, I like to get corrected, so I hope to see my own mistakes highlighted in here too. I was very happy a while back to finally learn the meaning of "have your cake and eat it" and realise that the construction "eat your cake and have it" exists and works better!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, first one:

 

Generally, I believe the means justifies the ends; if you lie about little things, you'll probably also lie about the big things.

 

This isn't what " the means justifies the ends" means. Perhaps Merus didn't intend equivalence though, so this might be a wonky first correction.

 

I'm also just going to get in early and say that to "beg the question" does not mean to "ask the question with urgency", it's a type of circular logic. Giles from Buffy got this wrong once and I can no longer respect him as a wise watcher/librarian.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh man, that totally got on my tits earlier as well, but not enough to make a whole thread about it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like this thread will really test the limits of our tolerance for each other. That said, I estimate the zero-to-shitshow potential to be much lower than on other gaming forums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is literally my least favorite thread on every forum for all time.

 

Irregardless, I await with baited breath to seeing what happens from hear on out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if this might work better as a "did you know" sort of thing, rather than calling out a specific user. 

 

For example, you might say, "Did you know that 'begs the question' doesn't mean that a statement calls for a hasty response, but instead refers to a proposition that invites or assumes a specific conclusion?" as opposed to "Giles' credentials as a Watcher are in question because his failure to grasp basic logical fallacies."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm on the side of this where I feel like I make a lot of mistakes in the area and would love to see corrections of what I say, here. Grammar is so incredibly difficult for me. I often want to write conversationally so I end up with many run-on sentences. I've read articles on how to use semicolons and hyphens, but constantly feel like I'm fucking up anyway*. I actually disagree with the idea that only things that are in an official list of hyphenated words get hyphenated. I won't follow that rule.

I've been trying to stick to the idea that I should be using commas, semicolons, and hyphens to prevent confusion; but my run-ons push my boundaries. Can you start a sentence with "But"?

*should it be "any way"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is literally my least favorite thread on every forum for all time.

 

Irregardless, I await with baited breath to seeing what happens from hear on out.

 

10/10: This is the Citizen Kane moment of the Idle Forums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm on the side of this where I feel like I make a lot of mistakes in the area and would love to see corrections of what I say, here. Grammar is so incredibly difficult for me. I often want to write conversationally so I end up with many run-on sentences. I've read articles on how to use semicolons and hyphens, but constantly feel like I'm fucking up anyway*. I actually disagree with the idea that only things that are in an official list of hyphenated words get hyphenated. I won't follow that rule.

I've been trying to stick to the idea that I should be using commas, semicolons, and hyphens to prevent confusion; but my run-ons push my boundaries. Can you start a sentence with "But"?

*should it be "any way"?

 

The usage of that sentence necessitates "anyway", which is definitely a word. "anyway" is... "in any case" or something like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm on the side of this where I feel like I make a lot of mistakes in the area and would love to see corrections of what I say, here. Grammar is so incredibly difficult for me. I often want to write conversationally so I end up with many run-on sentences. I've read articles on how to use semicolons and hyphens, but constantly feel like I'm fucking up anyway*. I actually disagree with the idea that only things that are in an official list of hyphenated words get hyphenated. I won't follow that rule.

I've been trying to stick to the idea that I should be using commas, semicolons, and hyphens to prevent confusion; but my run-ons push my boundaries. Can you start a sentence with "But"?

*should it be "any way"?

 

This is going to get a little discipline specific since I'm an English teacher, so I apologize in advance.* People who teach writing at the college level** have been debating for the last 20-30 years about how to teach grammar and if doing so is even appropriate given the variety of "Englishes" that exist across different demographics (regional, socio-economic, native speakers vs. English language learners). There's a particular anxiety about how teaching standardized grammar reinforces power structures based on race on wealth inequality. The version of English that is often taught as "correct" is really just the version most often spoken by white people and those from privileged backgrounds. Telling a student of a particular race, region, or income level that the English they grew hearing, writing, and speaking is "wrong" doesn't fit with the current understanding of language as something that's constantly contested and constantly changing. Instead, teachers tend to talk about standard English grammar as something that they can use or reject as needed, given the context they are writing in and the expectations of their audience. 

 

How is this at all relevant to what clyde wrote? I started writing this because I wanted to say that a lot of the way grammar is taught and thought about comes down to common usage and situational appropriateness. If you're writing conversationally, for example on a forum or in an email, you likely don't need to worry too much about if "but" should start a sentence or if a comma is properly placed, as long as your meaning comes across. 

 

*I'm the kind of English teacher who teaches literature and film classes, so my grammar is certainly not perfect. I won't be shocked if someone finds errors here. 

 

EDIT: **Let me qualify that by saying that I'm referring here to American public universities. The attitude toward grammar and how to teach it is likely different in other countries, and in other kinds of university systems such as liberal arts colleges, smaller private universities, and other kinds of institutions that I can't think of right now. Also, this post now effectively has two footnotes. I hate myself sometimes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "correctness" of English - or any other language for that matter is a really interesting topic. Don't have anything to add, but if this thread turned into that topic I could read it forever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

10/10: This is the Citizen Kane moment of the Idle Forums.

It is certainly... one of my prouder moments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clyde - iirc, you need a full clause (ie something that would work as a full sentence) either side of a semi-colon. So "I should be using commas, semicolons, and hyphens to prevent confusion; but my run-ons push my boundaries" doesn't work as the second part wouldn't work as a standalone sentence. You probably only need a comma there tbh.

 

This thread doesn't just have to be about grammar, though (especially as we're on a forum, where people are unlikely to be double-checking their "its"s and "it's"s), as per my pedantry above. And I guess we could avoid mentioning people by name, although that might rob people of the chance to rebuke, plus it'll probably be pretty clear whose error you're picking up on anyway.

 

Basically, no need to be rude just because you're pointing out to someone that they're misusing "ret-con".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben you just retconned the purpose of this thread. I don't know what to believe anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "correctness" of English - or any other language for that matter is a really interesting topic. Don't have anything to add, but if this thread turned into that topic I could read it forever.

 

Yeah, I'm down with a conversation like that.  Language is a fascinating topic.

 

As far as correcting people goes, here are the posts I made in the song thread recently about how I feel about making fun of people or having shitty attitudes about this topic (due to the Weird Al Word Crimes song).  I don't think any of you on here would want to be really shitty to each other, but seems worth linking to.  I don't see any reason to rehash that here, unless people want to, but the combination of issues around class, race, privilege and learning disability have really turned me against the tendency to want to correct people.  Unless it is in the kindest way possible, to clarify what someone meant or it happens in a professional context. 

 

 

I hope this doesn't come across as mean-spirited. Personally, I like to get corrected, so I hope to see my own mistakes highlighted in here too. I was very happy a while back to finally learn the meaning of "have your cake and eat it" and realise that the construction "eat your cake and have it" exists and works better!

 

FWIW, I feel this way as well.  I try to hold myself to a certain standard in how I communicate, but I know when I'm bashing out a response quick in a few minute break from work, I make mistakes.  Or if I use a word or phrase in a wonky way that doesn't make my point clear, I want to know that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clyde - iirc, you need a full clause (ie something that would work as a full sentence) either side of a semi-colon. So "I should be using commas, semicolons, and hyphens to prevent confusion; but my run-ons push my boundaries" doesn't work as the second part wouldn't work as a standalone sentence. You probably only need a comma there tbh.

 

So if a clause starts with "but" it is not a full clause?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I'm shaky on this, but I would say it is not a clause because you shouldn't start a clause/sentence with "but". I could well be wrong, though. I always see it as a way to avoid a run-on sentence or two very small sentences.

 

Actually, wikipedia says you can use it

 

 

between independent clauses linked with a transitional phrase or a conjunctive adverb. This is the least common use, and is mostly confined to academic texts.[10]

  • Everyone knows he is guilty of committing the crime; of course, it will never be proven.[11]
  • It can occur in both melodic and harmonic lines; however, it is subject to certain restraints.
  • Of these patients, 6 were not enrolled; thus, the cohort was composed of 141 patients at baseline.

 

 

but that's not what my English teacher taught me twenty years ago!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clyde - iirc, you need a full clause (ie something that would work as a full sentence) either side of a semi-colon. So "I should be using commas, semicolons, and hyphens to prevent confusion; but my run-ons push my boundaries" doesn't work as the second part wouldn't work as a standalone sentence. You probably only need a comma there tbh.

 

That's just a compound sentence: two independent clauses linked by a conjunction. You don't need a semicolon, but not because "my run-ons push my boundaries" isn't an independent clause (it is). If you wanted to, you could omit the "but" and use a semicolon instead, but that wouldn't be a great idea in this case since it would make the meaning less clear (but it wouldn't be ungrammatical).

 

A compound sentence is composed of at least two independent clauses. It does not require a dependent clause. The clauses are joined by a coordinating conjunction (with or without a comma), a semicolon that functions as a conjunction, a colon instead of a semicolon between two sentences when the second sentence explains or illustrates the first sentence and no coordinating conjunction is being used to connect the sentences, or a conjunctive adverb preceded by a semicolon. A conjunction can be used to make a compound sentence. Conjunctions are words such as forandnorbutoryet, and so (the first letters of which spell "fanboys"). The use of a comma to separate two independent clauses without the addition of an appropriate conjunction is called a comma splice and is generally considered an error (when used in the English language).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, first one:

 

"Generally, I believe the means justifies the ends; if you lie about little things, you'll probably also lie about the big things."

 

This isn't what " the means justifies the ends" means. Perhaps Merus didn't intend equivalence though, so this might be a wonky first correction.

 

Maybe Merus should have laid off the semi-colons if the two thoughts aren't closely related.

 

When it reads "Generally, I believe the means justifies the ends. If you lie about little things, you'll probably also lie about the big things." my intention is clearer: I believe something fairly close to the reverse of the famous phrase - that the ethics of the people pursuing a goal, reveals the ethical value of that goal. The reasoning is that ethics is a process that you have to consciously practice; a person who thinks ethically will act ethically, including when deciding what to organise in support of, and that an unethical person will act unethically in ways they don't consciously realise. In the absence of detailed ethical arguments one way or the other, the ethics of a group pursuing a goal is a good approximation for the ethics of that goal. PETA is willing to lie, cheat and steal to advance its agenda; it seems unlikely that their agenda is then entirely ethical, even if parts of it might be fine. MRAs, similarly, are totally comfortable with misrepresenting things like the reasons for moving hotels; when determining the goals of their organisation, I'm happy to believe that they aren't being honest with us and with themselves, either. It's not intended to be an illustration, but a two-stage argument.

 

 

My housemate's pet peeve is when people describe things as being 'very unique'. Uniqueness is a discrete state. There are no degrees of uniqueness; something is either unique, or there's more than one of them. Nothing can be very, or a little bit, unique.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My housemate's pet peeve is when people describe things as being 'very unique'. Uniqueness is a discrete state. There are no degrees of uniqueness; something is either unique, or there's more than one of them. Nothing can be very, or a little bit, unique.

 

Yeah, that's definitely annoying. For some reason people feel like unique can be used in place of novel - sure, something novel may be unique in that in doing something new it has no equal, but something is not more unique when it is more novel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe Merus should have laid off the semi-colons if the two thoughts aren't closely related.

 

When it reads "Generally, I believe the means justifies the ends. If you lie about little things, you'll probably also lie about the big things." my intention is clearer: I believe something fairly close to the reverse of the famous phrase - that the ethics of the people pursuing a goal, reveals the ethical value of that goal.

 

This is actually exactly how I read that when you originally posted it.  It took me a second, as it's a bit convoluted, but it is an inventive repurposing of that phrase. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×