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Need a place to grumble about grammar?

By elenchos in MLP
Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 04:47:34 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

One of the things that makes the web so great it that there is something for everybody. I followed a link in a K5er's diary and found The Vocabula Review, whose motto is "A society is generally as lax as its language." It is bursting with righteously indignant screeds on the immanent doom of our society due to the "de-evolution" of our fine language, and a loss of "respect" for English. Read about the shocking habit that some young people have fallen into of using the word "like" in an almost uncountable number of unacceptable ways, resulting in sloppy communication! Watch the decline of Western Civilization as charted through the lazy disuse of the `g' ending in the `ing' suffix. If this reversal of linguistic Progress continues unabated, we shall be left grunting at one another while throwing pooh like chimps, with the occasional "like" slipped in to sound educated.

Some would say these Chicken Little armchair linguists are the last guardians of racism and classism in our otherwise increasingly egalitarian culture, and some would be right, but that is not what is important. What is important is that if you too are outraged at the sight of a split infinitive and burst with frustration at every comma splice and sentence fragment, you can go to a site that shares your concerns. There is a place for everyone to call home, somewhere on the 'net. In article after frothing article, retired English teachers and frustrated copy editors will say just what has been on your mind, and do so with all the respect that the downtrodden English language ought to really receive. The only things they really lack are a good discussion board and personal ads for like-minded pickers of grammatical nits, who have their Fowler's, they have their Strunk and White, but don't have each other. But I'm sure they will soon, if enough people ask politely, and grammatically. So why hang aruound the careless rabble of K5 when there is a decent community, your true community, waiting for YOU right now.

If you have some money to spend, Vocabula.com also offers a wide choice of services to snatch your company from the jaws of the sloppy English Swamp Thing, from Abstracting to Copyediting to Keystroke testing to Typemarketing. This is not meant an endorsement; for all I know they are ready to tank. Like, caveat emptor, eh?


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o Managed Hosting
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Collapse of Civilization, due to sloppy language use:
o It has, like, already happend, dude. 35%
o No way, like, not for a good ten years, dude. 7%
o Dude! Like, we got twenty-five or thirty years left. 3%
o Like, it's bound to happen, but not for a century, dude. 5%
o I'd say, dude, like, 200 years. 2%
o About like 500 years, dude, if not more. 1%
o Like dude, like, a like millennium dude! 2%
o Like no way dude! Dude, never, like, happen! Dude... 43%

Votes: 95
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o K5er's
o The Vocabula Review
o Also by elenchos

Display: Sort:
Need a place to grumble about grammar? | 52 comments (27 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hrm (4.71 / 7) (#1)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:22:04 PM EST

I certanly found this intresting
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
OT: picture-rate.com and Mozilla (none / 0) (#3)
by DesiredUsername on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:44:43 PM EST

I'm running 0.8.1 and it does NOT work. I can get to ui.jsp, but all I see is text--no pics, no voting mechanism.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
oops (none / 0) (#11)
by delmoi on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:47:50 PM EST

My windows box spontaniously rebooted on me. All the graphics, and the stylesheets are served off of it, and I had forgoton to restart apache. *doh*. It should work now.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
It does, I guess (none / 0) (#30)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:00:04 AM EST

I can see pictures and rate them. That slider interface is....difficult, though. I can't move my mouse accurately enough to modify the places to the right of the decimal point, so those values are useless. I much prefer "pickthehottie.com"

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
re:Hrm (none / 0) (#38)
by jij on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 05:25:48 PM EST

If you liked that, you'll love this. Not exactly on-topic, though. :)

"people who thinks quotes are witty are fucking morons" - turmeric
[ Parent ]

Unlikely (3.00 / 1) (#2)
by DesiredUsername on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 09:22:21 PM EST

A society of "lazy speakers" would have to be a society of especially intent listeners. And, if anything, that would be BETTER than what we have now.

Play 囲碁
That doesn't necessarily follow. (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by spaceghoti on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:13:45 PM EST

A society of lazy speakers becomes a society of poor communications. Rather than listening a little harder, I observe people dismissing the statements of others or making erroneous assumptions. I'm guilty of this myself. How can I respond to what you say if I don't understand what you said in the first place? Worse, what if I misunderstand what you said and take offense to it?

It seems to me we're already looking at that scenario. A lot of people misunderstand each other and are attacking each other because of it. I perceive that rampant here in K5 as well as the world around me. It's already been pointed out that the K5 community seems to have no sense of humor whatsoever. If that isn't at least a symptom of communications breakdown, I don't know what is.

Mod this down to your hearts' content. I call it like I see it, and you're welcome to agree or not as the spirit takes you.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
OT: why would people mod ya down? (none / 0) (#33)
by sayke on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 09:55:50 AM EST

Mod this down to your hearts' content. I call it like I see it, and you're welcome to agree or not as the spirit takes you.

errrr, right. that you expect to be modded down by people who disagree with you says a lot. that you feel the need to inform the world of that expectation, says more.

sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
[ Parent ]

Flametown, 2km (none / 0) (#34)
by spaceghoti on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 10:06:46 AM EST

Let's just say this community has been down this road before. It's meant as a reminder to myself, if not others, that this is just a conversation. An exchange of thoughts and ideas that may or may not conflict. There's no reason to get worked up over it.

It doesn't always succeed, but I try.

"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
Oh, for the luxury of a mere split infinitive... (4.60 / 5) (#10)
by Jin Wicked on Sun Apr 01, 2001 at 10:44:32 PM EST

Oh, how I wish the only thing I had to put up with was bad grammar! Do you know of a site for people who can't stand this:

hi how r u doin?????? u liek sport????? a/s/l plz????? what u mean look in ur info?? u hav a hompage??? hey y r u so mean?? dont u want 2 talk 2 me?? BITCH!!!!!!!!!!

I voted this up because it's the first thing I've seen posted that made me laugh in quite awhile. :)

This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.

Insert sound of grinding teeth (none / 0) (#15)
by Tatarigami on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 12:27:24 AM EST

Good lord, you seem to have had the misfortune of chatting exclusively with my customers. Oh, how I wish they would lose my email address!

Things will be very different when I rule the world, yes they will... I'll take away their PCs and breed them for meat...

[ Parent ]
If... (none / 0) (#18)
by Zeram on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 12:29:32 AM EST

I ever start a website called www.pubertysovernow.com I'll let you know.

Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily (none / 0) (#23)
by vectro on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 02:19:06 AM EST

My roommate last year wrote like that, and he was 23 at the time. Of course, he had the IQ (& EQ) of a bananna slug, but...

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Hey! (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Elendale on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 12:28:53 AM EST

I've never had any respect for the English language. In fact, i deny i know it every chance i get (my freaky ass accent helps this). Of course, speaking nothing but english, a bit of french, and as much japanese as can be learned from 72 hour anime marathons so that doesn't help the situation. As far as actual usage of the English language i consider myself one of the more fluent speakers (whatever much as that's worth) so i'm entitled to hate the language...


When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.

recommended book (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by dr k on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 02:17:05 AM EST

for some reason, which I won't go into here, this thread compels me to recommend the book _Invisible Rendezvous_ by Rob Wittig (& in.s.omnia). So go, now, and order this book. Once you've read it you can ask why.
Destroy all trusted users!
That's Pooh with a capital P, buddy. (3.88 / 9) (#26)
by bobsquatch on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 04:33:28 AM EST

we shall be left grunting at one another while throwing pooh like chimps
"Oh, bother," said Pooh, as his hairy body flew through the air and landed on Eyeore, who grunted softly and sadly.

I prefer my poo without any "h" at all. (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by Pedro Picasso on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 02:10:06 PM EST

+1 on the basis of including the word "pooh" in the first place.
-the Pedro Picasso

Cult of the Flaky Hardware
[ (sourceCode == freeSpeech) | kakkune.com ]
[ Parent ]
Slightly misdiagnosing the problem. (3.80 / 5) (#35)
by marlowe on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 10:09:50 AM EST

Prescriptive grammar and spelling are strictly for anal-retentive pedants. What we really need is to focus on the semantics, not the syntax. We must slam with extreme prejudice anyone who obfuscates, equivocates, extemporizes, or just plain fibs. In other words, we must undo what Eddie Bernays, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and others have done to our national discourse. (Yeah, I'm U.S. centric. Got a problem with that?)

I don't always agree with Ayn Rand, but she was right about one thing. A is A, and we'd damn well better not forget it.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
+1 for interesting conversation generated! (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by chewie on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 12:28:58 PM EST

Hell, yeah! ;-) If you can generate this much conversation just over the possibility of it becoming an actual MLP article, I'm all for it! ;-) This has been an entertaining morning. *grin*
assert(expired(knowledge)); /* core dump */
excellent post (+1) (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by cybin on Mon Apr 02, 2001 at 06:07:45 PM EST

i really like this subject as a topic of discussion. while i think clear communication is the key to many things (including my field, music), the principles of grammar that we are all taught in high school are very old -- i believe i remember hearing they were left over from victorian times.

the point is, that while i chose to type this reply in all lower-case letters, my writing is still clear and communicative. the internet has the possibility to revolutionize both the spoken and the written word in the same way literature does. take faulkner for example, his techniques of writing were groundbreaking, proving that one need not follow the strict rules to communicate effectively.

one thing i think we should not discount is the transformational nature of language (see transformational grammar by andrew radford for more) and the principles of Chomsky (also described in the book).

i could write forever about this, but will stop now :)


Chomsky and linguistics... (5.00 / 2) (#46)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 04:06:09 AM EST

one thing i think we should not discount is the transformational nature of language (see transformational grammar by andrew radford for more)

Radford's books are not too good, IMHO. I remember I once tried to read that book on my own, before I became a linguist. After the chapter on X-Bar theory, the book just became incomprehensible. The intro chapter to the book is one of the best introductions to Chomsky's ideas-- but a terribly uncritical one.

Radford has two newer books which are introductions to more recent attempts at defining a new grammatical model within the Chomskian school. The attempts are a mess, and by now quite likely to be very different from whatever Radford describes in these newer books. I used one of these two books in a course looong ago, and it sucked, too.

If you really want to learn about Chomsky's theories of grammar, I'd recommend this book by Peter Culicover-- it covers more or less the same ground as the Radford book you mention, is more concise, and better written. It's not the newest stuff from the Chomskian school, but if you are not a linguist, you probably want to take a look at an actual linguistic theory that has been influential, and not a quicksand bog of current work which will doubtlessly soon abandoned, which means that the most appropriate Chomsky work for you is that from the '80s.

and the principles of Chomsky (also described in the book).

Chomsky is a doctrinaire who has built an academic cult around him.

For example, back in the late '50s and '60s, Chomsky and his school argued that grammars needed to have transformational rules because of the existence of so-called "long distance dependencies", which they argued could not be encoded with contex-free grammars.

However, in the late '70s and early '80s, it was shown that the argument for transformational rules had been wrong since the very beginning-- a context free grammar not only could account for long distance dependencies, but could actually do it *better* than transformational rules. A whole other body of analyses which made use of transformational rules were also shown not to require them at all. And another of the major original motivations for transformations, accounting for the related meanings of active, passive and interrogative sentences, vanished with the coming of age of formal semantic analyses for natural language.

So have the proponents of transformational rules relinquish them, given that the arguments for having them have over time proven to be more and more misguided, and arguments against them more and more convincing? No. They expanded their use. And because of their influence in academia, this kind of linguistics, which is what Radford's book describes, is the mainstream in the US. Pick up Pinker, for instance, and this is what you will be shown. The approaches which put this kind of linguistics in question, which have been around for over 20 years, are a niche within US linguistics, and the onlooker has to dig deep to see them-- and if he does see them, he doesn't find a unified voice like in the mainstream, but rather a morass of dissenting viewpoints. Which, for the most part, write for themselves and each other, not for the outsiders.

The most accessible (but by no means representative) introduction to such an alternative viewpoint is Sag and Wasow, but frankly I don't think that book is that good an introduction to linguistics. It is very clear and explicit about its material, though, and if you are determined to read like something like Radford, this book would make a good contrast point.

IMHO this whole situation is now slowly changing. Chomsky's influence over USian linguistics is certainly fading-- the major new linguistic framework in the US in the 90s was not due to him, for instance, and now he's retiring. But only time will tell.

[ Parent ]

new information (none / 0) (#52)
by cybin on Fri Apr 06, 2001 at 01:49:13 AM EST

thanks for the insight into current trends -- i picked up the radford book to get a bit of a taste -- i'm an anthro student in college so i get a little linguistics but not too much...

as for the whole chomsky thing -- i was just trying to push "the big idea", that language is progressive... if you can recommend any other materials (particulary ones that might relate to music) please send me an email :)


[ Parent ]
Sloppy grammar is only to be expected .. (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by gbd on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 10:08:18 AM EST

.. in a country whose President pronounces the word "doesn't" as "duddn't."

We are all in big trouble.

Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

Excellent MLP (none / 0) (#47)
by Luke Francl on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 04:28:57 AM EST

I think this site is great! I spent a while there when this first hit the queue. I don't agree with gramar nazis, for the most part. I tend to agree with The Elements of Style: the simpler, the better. Get your point across. Beyond that, who cares. Of course, great writers are free to break this "rule" -- but they know when to, which is what makes them great. While I'm in training for great writer-dom, I'll try my best to keep my writing simple.

This reminds me... (none / 0) (#49)
by YelM3 on Wed Apr 04, 2001 at 06:47:49 PM EST

When I was in 8th grade (6 years ago) everyone, and the girls especially, said 'like' approximately every 4th word that they uttered. We used to keep running totals, and make bets on who would win the Like contest every week. One week, a girl made it past 100 'likes' spoken just in in-class comments or the teacher calling on her hand raised.

She eventually went to a state university, but so did I, so I don't know what this says about intelligence or the decline of society ;-)

hmmm... (none / 0) (#50)
by j0s)( on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 01:31:05 PM EST

you misspelt around.


what do you mean my domain name isn't original??!!

-- j0sh -- of course im over-dramatizing my statements, but thats how its done here, sensationalism, otherwise you wouldnt read it.

It's a sloppy language to start with (none / 0) (#51)
by imminent on Thu Apr 05, 2001 at 06:54:38 PM EST

Latin is a far more elegant language than English in pretty much every aspect. Now if they make studying it compulsory...

Need a place to grumble about grammar? | 52 comments (27 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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