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SCUBA-L  November 1999, Week 2

SCUBA-L November 1999, Week 2

Subject:

Re: Skindiving - Freediving ?

From:

"Reef Fish (Large Nassau Grouper)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scuba diving discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 10 Nov 1999 15:12:53 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (101 lines)

At 02:17 PM 11/10/99 -0500, Clay Phipps wrote:
 
A learned piece of research that would've been applicable had this
been 1950 because that's about as "modern" as Fowler gets.  :=)
Internet and web page probably means an INTERwoven NET to catch the
widow-spider whose WEB got tangled on a PAGE of his book.
 
>>English is a LIVING language,
>              ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>One whose unusually large vocabulary, facilitating expression of very fine
>shades of meaning, is being ruined by marginally literate people, notably
>many sports broadcasters in the U.S.A., who reach & influence a very wide
>audience, and by deliberately deceitful speakers & writers, notably
>many advertising copywriters, advocates for various causes, and
>government officials, whose goals can sometimes be advanced by
>misleading listeners or readers.
 
Doesn't Fowler suggest that you break the above into at least four
sentences?  :-)   When in Rome, do as the Romans.  When writing to
morons, write what the morons understand.  So, the sports broadcasters
et al are probably not unwise in what they do.
 
 
>>whose usage is guided not only by RULES but by accepted CURRENT usage.
>                                                ^^^^^^^^
>Um, yes, _who_ gets to decide what's "accepted"
>pretty much is _the_ issue.
 
The fact that there are HUNDREDS of web pages all spelling "skindiving"
and "freediving" suggest that they are not exactly unacceptable
typographical errors.
 
>>The RULE that dictates a hypenated word used as an adjective
> ^^^^^^^^
>>is when the first word of the pair is a NOUN.
>             ^^^^^^^^^^                  ^^^^
>Noun-adjective and noun-participle composite adjectives
>are only 2 cases in Fowler's rule 3 [p. 256],
>which also promotes hyphens for adjective-adjective
>adjective-participle, and verb-adverb composite adjectives.
 
Okay, that was the rule that stood out in my mind.  I didn't say the
ONLY RULE.
 
 
>>You've been in the ivory towers with Shetland sheep for too long.
>             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>The real goal is not to indulge in pedantry,
>but to decrease ambiguity and increase the likelihood
>that the writer's intended idea will be accurately communicated.
 
Precisely.   That's why my prescription to Jean-Marc was:
 
RF>As you wish.  One word would save one keystroke of a space or hyphen. :-)
 
No one is going to be confused whether you spell 'freediving' as
'free-diving' or 'free diving'.   Any precise prescription (as
given by Magnus) or appeal to authority (as Clay appeals to Fowler)
IS indeed pedantry.
 
 
>>That's why I use CAPS for emphasis instead of _caps_ or *caps* [...],
>>because [... it] saves TWO keystrokes for every italicized word!
>                  ^^^^^
>The important point is that your saving of keystrokes in that manner
>(usually?) doesn't create any ambiguity that's important in 'SCUBA-L'.
 
For pedantry, I appeal to Dave Berry, the syndicated columnist who
is also a scuba diver.  HE uses CAPS for emphasis, even though the
newspapers are quite capable of using italics.
 
 
>For a counterexample, I would offer 2 programming languages
>whose concern for, um, brevity or "economy" of notation, can create
>programs so difficult to read and understand that there are
>"obfuscated code" contests popular with enthusiasts for each language.
 
Those are not COUNTEREXAMPLES to my use of CAPS!
 
One language, appropriately called APL (A Programming Language),
invented by Ken Iverson of IBM, was created as a MATHEMATICS language
first (implicit functions) and turned out to be highly efficient as
a programming language (which came much later)!
 
So, it was NOT invented for "brevity".  I am quite sure APL is one
of your two languages.   I learned it from Ken Iverson himself.
The code is SO efficient that I once wrote a program (for my
doctoral dissertation) that consisted of 4 lines that would have
taken FORTRAN at least 400 lines.   Alas, the "obfuscated code"
(a misnomer for EFFICIENT CODE) took me FOUR HOURS to figure out
what I had done a day later, because I should have inserted
COMMENTS on each line of that code but I didn't because I was
just trying out dozens of new ideas late at night.
 
 
>Ooops.  It's waaay past time to get back to my Perl scripts.
 
Is that the OTHER "obfuscated code"?
 
-- Bob.

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