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Topic: Grammatical Mutterings (Read 41583 times)

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #150
Really? Is there a difference? I consider the difference as imaginary (or rather unnecessary) as between Internet and internet. (As to "the", Estonian - and Finnish and Russian - don't have it and I'd rather we never did.)
Perhaps it's because we live in a Christian (Dutch: christian) nation. The distinction is somewhat imaginary when talking about bibles that contain the Bible but there are also bibles in the sense of authoritative works in general.

"The Bible, that's how it's written in the Bible, Biblestudy"
"biblepaper, a bible seller"
"an Italian food bible"

The general rule is that proper names are capitalized and type names aren't. So the Bible/Quran/New Testament is considered the same as something like the Guardian or the New York Times, albeit under a special "holy books" category. But an individual bible is a type name. The Bible is a bible and the New York Times is a newspaper. Or something like that. But yeah, it's certainly odd for the bible seller.

bibles

Reply #151
"... to bring bibles..."
How would you replace "bibles" by the New York Times?

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #152
Really? Is there a difference? I consider the difference as imaginary (or rather unnecessary) as between Internet and internet. (As to "the", Estonian - and Finnish and Russian - don't have it and I'd rather we never did.)
Perhaps it's because we live in a Christian (Dutch: christian) nation. The distinction is somewhat imaginary when talking about bibles that contain the Bible but there are also bibles in the sense of authoritative works in general.

"The Bible, that's how it's written in the Bible, Biblestudy"
"biblepaper, a bible seller"
"an Italian food bible"

The general rule is that proper names are capitalized and type names aren't. So the Bible/Quran/New Testament is considered the same as something like the Guardian or the New York Times, albeit under a special "holy books" category. But an individual bible is a type name. The Bible is a bible and the New York Times is a newspaper. Or something like that. But yeah, it's certainly odd for the bible seller.

There are a lot of Xerox/xerox pair where the trade mark name lost their trademarks. Bible/bible, referring to the Phoenician city of Byblos is just one example.

 

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #154
The New Yorker’s recent account of ‘The End of the English Major’ in US universities reminded of a peculiar trend in the essays written by my first and second year undergraduates at Berkeley: a surprising number of them seem to think that a book and a novel are the same thing. Or, at least, they often use the two words interchangeably, and find it difficult to articulate the distinction between them. Reading their first essays each semester, I often encounter sentences that begin: ‘In Margaret Mead’s anthropology novel …’; ‘Edward Said, in his novel Orientalism …’; ‘In Marx’s novel, Capital …’ I’ve seen such sentences written by very good writers and by very poor ones; by students interested in the topics on offer and by those who couldn’t care less. Almost all of them are native speakers of English.

When I taught my first class in 2017, as a teaching assistant for a large introductory anthropology class, I saw four, perhaps five such sentences. The following semester it was five, maybe six. In my comments, I noted that a novel was a particular type of book, and that what we were reading were not novels but works of non-fiction, which could be referred to as ‘studies’, ‘works’, ‘texts’ or simply ‘books’. I chalked up the confusion to the very differing quality of humanities education available in US high schools and left it there. When I took up teaching again in spring 2021, however, it was no longer four or five students referring to the ‘novels’ of Mead or Marx or Said. A solid quarter of my students used ‘novel’ and ‘book’ interchangeably, a trend that has continued.
English, the most widespread language of the world is in danger. Can we help it along?

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #155
Can we help it along?
It is now early morning of a dreary day, still overcast and threatening rain, as I peruse a selection of sites. About my room flits a mosquito hawk, a fearsome creature (Ask my niece...) many times the size of a mosquito and much louder.. I pay it little mind: Not only does it not bite but it eats mosquitos.
ersi, do you likely mean further erode its usefulness? :) In case not: Yes, we can be less tolerant of ungrammatical construction and malaprops.
But more to the point the article's author makes: Education if being replaced by mechanical means of understanding.
Quote
Students and faculty are under increasing pressure to read as ‘poachers’ (to distort slightly Michel de Certeau’s phrase), approaching the works of their peers as hives of information to be harvested piecemeal and on demand. I’ve listened to too many faculty complain in recent years that they – or their colleagues – ‘just don’t read anymore’. And few graduate students seem to read entire books. Who has the time? You can cover a lot more ground by poaching – and publish a lot more, too.

This change in reading practice doesn’t only accelerate the drive to make the humanities and qualitative social sciences focus on the production of ‘useful’ information, rather than on the cultivation of critical thought and perception. It also makes them less fulfilling, as the (admittedly difficult) experience of reading books like Capital or Orientalism is replaced by reading them in snippets or through summaries written by others – now including, as a number of my students’ recent essays seem to suggest, by AI. Some people will always find the idea of reading such books exhausting, perhaps superfluous. But it isn’t hard to see how the experience of reading an entire book is very different from ingesting its arguments piecemeal or second-hand.

The poachings are apt to be like mosquitos. A book is more like the mosquito hawk.
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #156
A transition from book to novel wouldn't be too unreasonable, if we ignore that most books are not very novel.

None of the books used in English are that great. Book and beech (the tree) have the same wooden roots. Most obvious in Swedish, where the word for "book" is "bok", and the word for "beech" is also "bok". 

Novel comes from new(s), and that is fine, though most books are not particularly new either. In practically every other European language a novel is called a "roman", from the Roman language. That is pretty obsolete by now as well. 

(Hi)story is nice, as is tale (a telling), but better yet might be to go for work, or preferably opus (or opera). Or perhaps clip (cut, but also cleave). 

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #157
A transition from book to novel wouldn't be too unreasonable...
If my hunch is correct that the erosion of the distinction of book and novel also implies the erosion of the distinction of fiction and non-fiction, then Anglo-American education is in a catastrophic state.

And yes, Oakdale, I'd prefer some different lingua franca. Latin or some such.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #158
Is the distinction being eroded? Or are primary and secondary school teachers averse to teaching beyond their credentialling institutions' preoccupations, such as DEI and social justice? Of course, the so-called critical studies all stem from relativism...
Ye olde Cultural Marxism marches on!

California is not the only state where such tedious niceties are forgone. And certainly not all students at elite institutions are so ill-educated. (My daughter is a Berkley graduate. I doubt she'd ever make such a clueless mistake.) But the trend is toward treating language as a merely utilitarian medium of political action.

Would you only suggest dead languages? :) (Chinese never really caught on: "Only the pessimists are still learning Russian. The realists are learning —" the old joke used to be.)
I'm afraid your Utopian dreams are bound to be unrealized... For the most part, the world is what it is.
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #159
I should hardly think the distinction between book and novel[1] is something one has to be purposefully taught. You have books like encyclopedias, books about history, dinosaurs, biology and physics and then you have storybooks. At some point hopefully well over a decade before you're eighteen years old you osmotically learn that thicker storybooks are called novels, and that non-fiction books are not. It's the fancier vocabulary like fiction and non-fiction that you might have to learn because it's every so slightly more in the domain of jargon. Note that I explicitly mean the vocabulary, not the concept.

On the flip side, there are some supposed non-fiction books that might as well be novels. :)
Or rather, boek and roman, as @jax pointed out.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #160
What possible political purpose would the distinction serve? :)

Similar to the way the acronym DEI was named: An unwanted (i.e., not useful) connotation had to be precluded: The logical order of the terms should make it Diversity, Inclusion, Equity... But -unlike the days of MAD- we live in a politicized world, where even a sense of humor is only permitted within the bounds proscribed by the current ideologies.
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #161
Chinese never really caught on...
Chinese is doing fine. You'd know this if you visited Asia. Every pilipina I chatted with for a longer while claimed some Chinese heritage, thinking this raises them above average folks, and wanted to migrate to Singapore, where Chinese is official language.

I should hardly think the distinction between book and novel[1] is something one has to be purposefully taught.
It never occurred to me either, but apparently it has not been taught and the consequences are serious.

Note that I explicitly mean the vocabulary, not the concept.
But I mean the concepts. Why else teach vocabulary than to elucidate concepts?
Or rather, boek and roman, as @jax pointed out.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #162
But I mean the concepts. Why else teach vocabulary than to elucidate concepts?
To a very large extent you learn vocabulary to be able to talk about things with other people. The concepts are something you'll generally have figured out by yourself years prior. If you're lucky there'll be some deeper analysis, but the steps in school are slow and late. It's not like they tell you about picaresque novels or something when you're six years old.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #163
I mean the concepts. Why else teach vocabulary than to elucidate concepts?
Of course! Some think vocabulary drills are at best social plumage and at least, aids to learning spelling rules... But a conscribed vocabulary conduces to mute appreciation of the human condition.
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #165
The concepts are something you'll generally have figured out by yourself years prior. If you're lucky there'll be some deeper analysis, but the steps in school are slow and late. It's not like they tell you about picaresque novels or something when you're six years old.
But the teacher should not rely on students' self-learning. It's part of the teacher's job to verify that the concepts have reached the student by giving tests that are different than the introductory examples were. In my youth I learned by osmosis like you and was an eager self-learner, but teachers must help slow learners catch up too, particularly in the first years.

I remember now that the difference between novel and short story was taught to me on primary level, so that the difference of these from the concept of a book was a given. If Americans and Brits do not have it in their schools, they better start before it's too late.

Edit: Oh, and it also helps that in schools we rarely say "book" but rather there is a different fancy general word that means something like oeuvre in French, so that's what we say when we want to seem educated.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #166
If Americans and Brits do not have it in their schools, they better start before it's too late.
It's a new-ish fad, this blatant dumbing down. (I hope!)
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #167
But the teacher should not rely on students' self-learning. It's part of the teacher's job to verify that the concepts have reached the student by giving tests that are different than the introductory examples were.
I still remember how I was one of the few who managed to add something like 97+6, whereas there were many who made up random answers or just gave up. They either didn't think a number over 100, which we'd never explicitly learned about, was allowed, or they somehow couldn't conceive of it despite knowing about 1–9 and about 10–99. I'm not sure why I particularly recall that example, but it's illustrative for pretty much every subject.

But granted, regardless if you'd already figured it out for yourself, such matters as books, novels, short stories, fiction and non-fiction, are a standard part of learning how to read and use the library, and it's not like school didn't dot some Is and cross some Ts for me. Going more in-depth about the differences between tabloids and quality newspapers did indeed elucidate, even though the differences as such were obvious. Conversely we also learned all kinds of bizarre robotic methods for "understanding" and "analyzing" non-fiction texts.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #168
Hooray for New Math!

https://youtu.be/zWPn3esuDgU

And new, new math...

Imagine an arithematic text that attempts to substitute for rote and rules many of the tricks and shortcuts clever kids (and even most dull adults!) use.. Less than a decade ago I was faced with just such an abomination. It was prepared for 3rd and 4th graders — and I know at least one whose current distaste of mathematics likely stems from his experience with that program.
In more ways than one, teachers' college is a misbegotten idea: Fads fester in their well-fertalized soil!
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #169
Edit: Oh, and it also helps that in schools we rarely say "book" but rather there is a different fancy general word that means something like oeuvre in French, so that's what we say when we want to seem educated.

Going out on a limb and guessing "teosed", but more generally work, as in "the works of Chaucer" or some such.

(Hi)story is nice, as is tale (a telling), but better yet might be to go for work, or preferably opus (or opera).

Work, in all its form — opus, opera (you know the Opera lore I think, the "Opera" in "Multitorg Opera" comes from here), ergon… — is appropriate, though it focuses on the toil of the creator. That is also apparent in that the word for (a) work, in Swedish verk, is related to a word for "lingering pain", värk. But this word focuses on the producer, not the product.

For the generic word I like words like tale and saga, that which is told or said. But that assumes there is somebody telling. If the work is wrought by e.g. ChatGPT, it wouldn't quite be appropriate.

Appropriate it would be to end with a couple PIE reconstructions. "dough" and "fiction" may share an origin. *dheigh-As may advice, story and wit, *weid-.

.





Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #170
Going more in-depth about the differences between tabloids and quality newspapers did indeed elucidate, even though the differences as such were obvious.
Now, the lesson here is to think of others too, not only yourself. These differences may be obvious for you and I, but they are impossibly subtle for most people.

For example this post by Oakdale is a classic. He said, "Surely you know the difference between news programs and punditry" as if making an instructive point, while actually just uttering a statement he had heard some of his fav pundit make. The subtext and context clearly revealed that Oakdale had no clue about what he was saying. School as a social institution has the responsibility to help people like him catch up before it's too late. Yeah, too late for him; I mean other people like him who are still teachable.

Conversely we also learned all kinds of bizarre robotic methods for "understanding" and "analyzing" non-fiction texts.
Well, again, it may be bizarre for you, but for the average joe the dumb-looking didactic methods may be more effective. You know, in fact it is especially the dumb people whom learning benefits the most.

I assume you'd have a hard time in Japanese school, and probably me too. But their robotic methods are effective and have produced a society where the average citizen is rather intelligent.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #171
School, according to various rankings in a form closer to their implementation in for example the Benelux, Estonia, Finland and Japan than in the United States[1] is clearly beneficial to society. All citizens should have certain basic skills, otherwise society will be much worse to live in.

In context I was talking about how we're first taught the intricacies of these distinctions at around seven or eight years old, right alongside learning how to read and write. The very basics of reading and writing come a year prior. Then we spend another decade working with various genres of texts and enhancing our understanding. What, in other words, did these kids learn in English class? But the thing is, I've seen lesson plans for English from America that were excellent. Nothing to suggest the kids going through that system wouldn't be able to articulate the difference between a novel and a book.
For whatever their worth is, e.g., https://www.oecd.org/education/universal-basic-skills-9789264234833-en.htm

Though presumably if you split the US up by state you'll get a picture closer to Europe. I also realize that Finland and Japan may well take a rather different approach, where the Finnish approach at least superficially comes across as much more appealing because it seems it does well on average while simultaneously people like you and I should be mostly fine there as well, but as I said that's a superficial impression.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #172
For example this post by Oakdale is a classic. He said, "Surely you know the difference between news programs and punditry" as if making an instructive point, while actually just uttering a statement he had heard some of his fav pundit make. The subtext and context clearly revealed that Oakdale had no clue about what he was saying. School as a social institution has the responsibility to help people like him catch up before it's too late. Yeah, too late for him; I mean other people like him who are still teachable.
Your posts are alway instructive in some way. And this snippet was a useful reminder that intelligence is no armor against indoctrination: You'll remain obtuse, come what may.

However, you do occasionally slip and show yourself: Whatever did you mean when you said "for the average joe the dumb-looking didactic methods may be more effective"? Have you just opted for a word the meaning of which you don't know? :)
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Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #173
And this snippet was a useful reminder that intelligence is no armor against indoctrination: You'll remain obtuse, come what may.
Now, what could you possibly mean here by "indoctrination"? When you accuse someone of indoctrination, you are accusing them of a particular bias, but you are not specifying here what my bias consists in. So you must be assuming a context. The context could be the original that I was referring to and that you are quoting from, namely you take the distinction of news programs and punditry to be an indoctrination. However, in the original thread it was you who quipped to Frenzie about the distinction, trying to look smart and failing at it, and if you now think that the distinction is only maintained by indoctrinated people, then you are actually accusing yourself. I would not put this beyond you. I think there are enough elements involved here that you got mixed up exactly this way. But let's consider generously an alternative too.

Accusing someone of indoctrination without any specification can derive from a subculture of antisocial slant, such as the hippies. Anybody who passed a formal education can be counted as indoctrinated, so think the hippies. So by "indoctrination" you just mean education. Let's look at it again:

Intelligence is no armor against education.

Wtf. You mean intelligent people should be deprived of education? Why specifically them? You'd forgive to less than intelligent people for having gone to school, but intelligent people have no excuse?

Anyway, your entire thrust is wrong. I am the first child of a large family. Growing up, my main duty was to keep the ever-increasing flock of siblings in line. Instead of being indoctrinated, I am well rehearsed in indoctrinating.

Later in life, formal teacher's training became part of my higher education, but working as a teacher and professor has never been my first choice, even though I have been there done that too for a while. And at my current job (which is not in education) my promotions are related to being able to sell myself as a capable organiser of well-appreciated knowledge-sharing sessions to refresh and train skills that I have identified as necessary for the tasks at hand.[1]

And new, new math...

Imagine an arithematic text that attempts to substitute for rote and rules many of the tricks and shortcuts clever kids (and even most dull adults!) use.. Less than a decade ago I was faced with just such an abomination.
Interestingly, I am right now reading Fibonacci's Liber Abaci and discovering that many of this age's rote and rules seem to be the previous age's clever kids' tricks and shortcuts. The subject matter of Fibonacci's book (novel, hah!) is to introduce and popularise the decimal number system (the one we unproblematically use today), so he needs to tread carefully step by step, starting with some arguments and demonstrations as to the superiority of the Arabic numerals compared to Roman numerals and only then going deeper into arithmetic by means of Arabic numerals alone, first by longer expositions of the operations together with how to verify the results, then telling about some faster ways to get the results in some specific cases. My primary school math teacher (it was the same teacher throughout the primary school, so she had the opportunity to fully "indoctrinate" us in arithmetic according to her own programme) was thorough, but compared to Fibonacci she had dropped much repetition and opted for plenty of shortcuts.

A happy day of eggs and chocolate to you, Oakdale! (even though you will probably only be taking whisky)
By the way, having to sell oneself in this capitalist world, this is what I would blanket-term as indoctrination without any further specification. The world where everyone must be prostituting themselves for salary is insane.

Re: Grammatical Mutterings

Reply #174
Now, what could you possibly mean here by "indoctrination"?
The simple (and simplistic), pervasive and perverse anti-Americanism you evidence consistently, ersi. I assume your bizarre insults are a  juvenile defense mechanism... :)

"a capable organiser of well-appreciated knowledge-sharing sessions to refresh and train skills that I have identified as necessary for the tasks at hand"?! An employer who would tolerate let alone accept such logorrhea obviously has money to burn! It might as well go in some substantial part to the likes of you.
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