Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 3 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
#206077 - 06/18/12 12:48 AM Re: no reason to get exited [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 13,803
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Faldage  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 13,803
Now, now. Even the best writer is nothing without a good editor.

#206081 - 06/18/12 01:15 PM Re: no reason to get exited [Re: gooofy]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel
BranShea  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
Netherlands, the Hague
I don't think he's talking about a linguapocalypse. In the book there's no evidence of despair. ( have you read it? ) It's just about changes and repetitive patterns.

It's me who struggles over sentences like this one; just received a little book of poetry with an acknowledgement:

"--- We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing committment to the preservation of printed works worldwide"
It just does not read well. Elected?? Elected what to bring the book back?

Last edited by BranShea; 06/18/12 01:16 PM. Reason: typo
#206082 - 06/18/12 01:55 PM Re: no reason to get exited [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 37
gooofy Offline
newbie
gooofy  Offline
newbie

Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 37
Originally Posted By: BranShea

"--- We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing committment to the preservation of printed works worldwide"
It just does not read well. Elected?? Elected what to bring the book back?


If you don't think it reads well, that's fair enough, but it has nothing to do with the grammar of standard English. OED elect 2a is "To make deliberate choice of (a course of action, an opinion, etc.) in preference to an alternative". OED definition 2b is "with infinitive as obj. (Now common, but formerly chiefly in legal use)." In other words, elect can mean "choose" and be followed by an infinitive.

Those passages you quote seem despairing to me, for instance "The present order of things is not likely to keep the written word readable for another five centuries." In any case, my point is that he has provided no evidence, at least in those passages. Maybe he does in the rest of the book.

Last edited by gooofy; 06/18/12 02:13 PM.
#206083 - 06/18/12 02:29 PM Re: no reason to get exited [Re: gooofy]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel
BranShea  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
Netherlands, the Hague
The book is not about language in fact. The man is no linguist but a historian.
He has just one and a half page about laguage on 900 that give a cultural-social display of the Western world from 1500 till present times. But written in the 90s it lacks the last approx 15 years in which so many things have ocurred.

Yes, I think we have a different understanding of what grammar contains. I think we have a very simple system compared to what you show here.

Last edited by BranShea; 06/18/12 02:29 PM.
#206084 - 06/18/12 03:01 PM Re: no reason to get exited [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,290
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel
zmjezhd  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,290
R'lyeh
I don't think that non-linguists quite understand how infuriating these little pronouncements by non-specialists are. Especially after they begin to pile up like dirty snow in the winter. If I were to write a book about computer graphics programming and inserted a small paragraph or page or two in it about art history, in which I dismissed the Flemish School of paintings as a vulgar misinterpretation of the Italian Renaissance, and which led directly to the degeneracy of van Gogh and Gauguin as well as the French Impressionists. You might imagine that art historians and even some artists might disagree with me.

Barzun is just one in a long line of people who have achieved prowess in one field (in his case literary history, criticism) who thinks it grants them the right to pontificate on matters linguistic. In fact, I grant that he has that right, but I and others don't have to take his half-baked, crackpot theories of the doom of English seriously, mainly because other non-linguists have said the same and never offered any proof. In fact, they have usually made the same mistakes over and over again when complaining about the same, tired old tropes.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
#206085 - 06/18/12 03:58 PM Re: no reason to get exited [Re: zmjezhd]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel
BranShea  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
Netherlands, the Hague
I see, nobody says you have to take it and you sure will be right about it, but skipp that part and it still is nice book to me, as 99.9 % really gives a very nice trip through the past.

( of course, of course in my simple opinion )

#206088 - 06/18/12 04:09 PM Re: the risk of un-meaning [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,290
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel
zmjezhd  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,290
R'lyeh
I see, nobody says you have to take it and you sure will be right about it, but skipp that part and it still is nice book to me, as 99.9 % really gives a very nice trip through the past.

Yes, if only I were a stronger person. The problem is that one, small flaw tends to taint the whole work. Also, if Barzun is making elemental mistakes in something I care about and know well, then I am likely to wonder if there are similar mistakes in the parts I do not know so well.

Also, these mistakes are so commonplace that only a small investment of time reading the refutations of them could possibly open up new vistas to write about.

This thread forced me into my library to retrieve the one Barzun book I own, The House of the Intellect. Skimming a few pages here and there, I am reminded that while I enjoy the mechanics of his writing, I do not so much enjoy his theses.

Ah, well, we cannot all be the last guardians of the language in our towers. Some of his have to be the barbarians at the gates of civilization, I suppose.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
#206089 - 06/18/12 06:36 PM Re: the risk of un-meaning [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 13,803
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Faldage  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 13,803
Quote:
"The present order of things is not likely to keep the written word readable for another five centuries."


Readable to whom? If Barzun is saying that something written in 2612 would be unreadable to someone of today, I would say, "Duh." Imagine, if you will, William Shakespeare reading Neal Stephenson. Do you suppose he would find it readable?

#206090 - 06/18/12 08:44 PM Re: the risk of un-meaning [Re: zmjezhd]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel
BranShea  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,295
Netherlands, the Hague
Originally Posted By: zmjezhd
Skimming a few pages here and there, I am reminded that while I enjoy the mechanics of his writing, I do not so much enjoy his theses.

Maybe that's what makes me enjoy the book (it reads like a train) and not being a linguist and an easy believer I accept the stain as just a minor stain. But I can understand and respect your irritations.

Faldage Imagine, if you will, William Shakespeare reading Neal Stephenson. Do you suppose he would find it readable?

laugh We find hm readable ( not tht readable but readable enough to enjoy )
I'm sure if he would take a little effort, like we do for him, he could read the language but would need a generous list of annotations.

#206091 - 06/18/12 10:59 PM Re: the risk of un-meaning [Re: BranShea]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 13,803
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Faldage  Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 13,803
Originally Posted By: BranShea


Faldage Imagine, if you will, William Shakespeare reading Neal Stephenson. Do you suppose he would find it readable?

laugh We find hm readable ( not tht readable but readable enough to enjoy )
I'm sure if he would take a little effort, like we do for him, he could read the language but would need a generous list of annotations.


Are you saying you find Shakespeare readable or Neal Stephenson readable? I'm not asking if you find either of those readable. And I'm not asking if someone 500 years in the future would find Neal Stephenson readable. I'm asking if you'd think WS would find NS readable.

Page 3 of 6 1 2 3 4 5 6

Moderated by  Jackie 

Forum Statistics
Forums16
Topics13,879
Posts224,216
Members9,033
Most Online3,341
Dec 9th, 2011
Newest Members
Joyous, Amylzirklern, brork, santo, piostylist
9033 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
0 registered members (), 55 guests, and 2 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters(30 Days)
Top Posters(All Time)
wwh 13,858
Faldage 13,803
Jackie 11,613
tsuwm 10,538
LukeJavan8 9,055
AnnaStrophic 6,511
Wordwind 6,296
of troy 5,400
Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2017 Wordsmith

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.6.0
Page Time: 0.016s Queries: 14 (0.003s) Memory: 2.7384 MB (Peak: 2.8780 MB) Zlib disabled. Server Time: 2017-12-11 09:45:23 UTC