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An actual error found in C: The Complete Nonsense!

 
 
Seebs
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      11-11-2010
On 2010-11-11, Gene <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> There are more usage problems you might consider fixing.


I'll look at 'em.

> Delete the
> comma in


> "I wrote about it, in the previous version of this page."


I like it. It's not a correct/incorrect thing; were I speaking the sentence,
I'd pause there.


> Fix the diction in
>
> "Until, more recently, ..."
>
> by saying instead "Recently, ..."


I don't see anything wrong with it.

> This is a misuse of the em-dash:
>
> "I spent about a decade on the C committee?and unlike Schildt"


> It's cleaner to use two sentences.


Could you explain what specific rule you think this breaks?

> This is semi-colon abuse.


> "...no longer the mildly autistic kid who had never really studied
> writing or communication; I'm now a mildly autistic adult"


> Two sentences are much better.


I don't see why. I used the semicolon because the two statements are
related.

> Regarding
>
> "... good grasp on the C language ...,"
>
> most people don't physically seize languages. This is better said
>
> "... good grasp of the C language ..."


I don't think the preposition matters.

> More semi-colon abuse appears in "around for comparisons; in some
> cases..."
>
> This is misuse of the word "which:"
>
> "They are criticisms of code (or writing) which may well have been
> revised two or three times."
>
> Either "which" must be replaced by "that," or a comma must preceed.
> The former is better.


This is not an actual rule of English. I point you to _Style_, by
Joseph M. Williams, who addresses the which/that rule. The rule was
invented in 1906 with no prior art showing it to be the case (see
Chapter 10).

> More diction problems here:


I'm not sure what you mean by "diction problems".

> Out of time for more. Hope this helps improve the page.


I'm not a big fan of purely stylistic quibbles about English; my
writing voice is intentionally more like spoken language in some
ways (optional commas used to show pauses), and a lot of the
rules people like to quote are made-up rules which do not reflect
historical usage, or add value to the language.

I'm not saying I don't find writing style interesting -- I have read
a fair number of style guides over the years, and I always enjoy
talking about them -- but I am saying that I don't really care whether
something breaks one of the many arbitrary rules people have sometimes
attached to English which do not actually reflect usage.

I've even been known to use the passive voice.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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James Harris
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      11-12-2010
On Nov 11, 12:15*am, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 2010-11-11, Gene <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:


....

> > Out of time for more. *Hope this helps improve the page.

>
> I'm not a big fan of purely stylistic quibbles about English; my
> writing voice is intentionally more like spoken language in some
> ways (optional commas used to show pauses), and a lot of the
> rules people like to quote are made-up rules which do not reflect
> historical usage, or add value to the language.


The written word can 'flow' pleasingly, much as the spoken word can,
if certain norms are ahdered to. Overall (if you care about the
written form) I would say Gene's suggestions are good ones.

Taking the comma as a case in point, if Gene quoted a complete
sentence the comma in it can be misleading. I had to scan it a few
times thinking I had missed something or misunderstood it. The comma
there suggests a parenthetical inclusion but then the sentence (as
quoted) just stops.

Commas are optional in some places but try as I might I just can't
seem to make that one of them.

If you want the reader to pause a comma is maybe not ideal. Commas can
group written thoughts and, IIRC, they are the only on-the-line
punctuation mark for which a pause is not required when reading.
Depending on context a dash may be appropriate.

> I'm not saying I don't find writing style interesting -- I have read
> a fair number of style guides over the years, and I always enjoy
> talking about them -- but I am saying that I don't really care whether
> something breaks one of the many arbitrary rules people have sometimes
> attached to English which do not actually reflect usage.


Gene's suggestions are minor changes, it's true, compared with the
substance of the text but most of them seem to me to be helpful.

BTW, if anyone is interested there is newsgroup

alt.usage.english

where discussions of similar issues tend to be well supported in terms
of both quantity and quality.

James
 
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Seebs
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      11-12-2010
On 2010-11-12, James Harris <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> The written word can 'flow' pleasingly, much as the spoken word can,
> if certain norms are ahdered to. Overall (if you care about the
> written form) I would say Gene's suggestions are good ones.


I do care about it, but style is... well, sometimes a matter of personal
taste. I tend to favor a written style that has flow similar to spoken
style.

> Taking the comma as a case in point, if Gene quoted a complete
> sentence the comma in it can be misleading. I had to scan it a few
> times thinking I had missed something or misunderstood it. The comma
> there suggests a parenthetical inclusion but then the sentence (as
> quoted) just stops.


Yeah. This is why some people don't use them, and I certainly tend to
a few more commas than I need.

There's an apocryphal story that Oscar Wilde once spent all day writing;
at lunch, someone asked him what he'd done with his morning, and he said he'd
removed a comma. At dinner, he said he'd put it back.

> If you want the reader to pause a comma is maybe not ideal. Commas can
> group written thoughts and, IIRC, they are the only on-the-line
> punctuation mark for which a pause is not required when reading.
> Depending on context a dash may be appropriate.


Could be.

> Gene's suggestions are minor changes, it's true, compared with the
> substance of the text but most of them seem to me to be helpful.


I still have no clue what he meant by a "diction error". I always thought
"diction" was pronunciation.

> BTW, if anyone is interested there is newsgroup
>
> alt.usage.english
>
> where discussions of similar issues tend to be well supported in terms
> of both quantity and quality.


It's on the list of newsgroups to which I plan to subscribe when I think
of it while I'm at the newsgroup selector list.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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Tim Rentsch
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      11-13-2010
James Harris <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> On Nov 11, 12:15 am, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> On 2010-11-11, Gene <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
> [snip several levels of commentary]
>
> Gene's suggestions are minor changes, it's true, compared with the
> substance of the text but most of them seem to me to be helpful.


My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
either off the mark or just wrong. I do think Seebs's
writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.
 
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Seebs
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      11-13-2010
On 2010-11-13, Tim Rentsch <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
> either off the mark or just wrong. I do think Seebs's
> writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
> accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
> personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
> don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.


I don't at all dispute that my writing could improve. It was the
specific changes I wasn't so sure about. Beloved Spouse is constantly
reminding me that there are plenty of future opportunities to use
commas, so I don't have to use them all now in case we run out later.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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James Harris
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      11-15-2010
On Nov 12, 7:21*pm, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

....

> There's an apocryphal story that Oscar Wilde once spent all day writing;
> at lunch, someone asked him what he'd done with his morning, and he said he'd
> removed a comma. *At dinner, he said he'd put it back.


I think I make the same amount of progress some days.

....

> I still have no clue what he meant by a "diction error". *I always thought
> "diction" was pronunciation.


So did I. I just remembered to check:

http://www.onelook.com/?w=diction&ls=a

Looks like he's right here too. For example, "the choice of words used
in a speech or piece of writing."

James
 
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Seebs
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      11-15-2010
On 2010-11-15, James Harris <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> So did I. I just remembered to check:


> http://www.onelook.com/?w=diction&ls=a


> Looks like he's right here too. For example, "the choice of words used
> in a speech or piece of writing."


Ah-hah. Now if only there'd been any hint as to what was specifically
wrong with those words...

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.
 
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Chad
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      11-15-2010
On Nov 13, 11:48*am, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 2010-11-13, Tim Rentsch <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
> > either off the mark or just wrong. *I do think Seebs's
> > writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
> > accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
> > personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
> > don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.

>
> I don't at all dispute that my writing could improve. *It was the
> specific changes I wasn't so sure about. *Beloved Spouse is constantly
> reminding me that there are plenty of future opportunities to use
> commas, so I don't have to use them all now in case we run out later.
>



<off topic>
So I guess spinoza was wrong when he said that you were gay.
</off topic>

 
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Kenny McCormack
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      11-15-2010
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
Chad <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>On Nov 13, 11:48*am, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> On 2010-11-13, Tim Rentsch <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>>
>> > My impression is that many or most of Gene's suggestions were
>> > either off the mark or just wrong. *I do think Seebs's
>> > writing could use some improvement (sorry Peter), even
>> > accepting his style choice of writing informally (which
>> > personally I have no problem with), but the changes suggested
>> > don't IMO have a very good batting average in that regard.

>>
>> I don't at all dispute that my writing could improve. *It was the
>> specific changes I wasn't so sure about. *Beloved Spouse is constantly
>> reminding me that there are plenty of future opportunities to use
>> commas, so I don't have to use them all now in case we run out later.
>>

>
>
><off topic>
>So I guess spinoza was wrong when he said that you were gay.
></off topic>
>


I don't see how that follows. So-called "gay marriage" is becoming
increasingly common nowadays.

--
They say compassion is a virtue, but I don't have the time!

- David Byrne -

 
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