Author Topic: Grammar that makes you cringe  (Read 594075 times)

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6225 on: 13 October, 2021, 01:26:28 pm »
Your example is perfectly clear for me. How can "A, B, C and D" mean 3 items for some people is not clear.

To use a notation that avoids the ambiguity, it's the difference between {"A", "B", "C", "D"}  and  {"A", "B", "C and D"}


"For dessert we have ice-cream, CAKE, cheese and biscuits."  Are cheese and biscuits two items, or one item consisting of two parts?
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6226 on: 14 October, 2021, 09:00:05 am »
It's possible to have ambiguity with only two items. "I like macaroni and cheese. But I don't like macaroni and cheese." Though in this example you can avoid the ambiguity by being American and calling the dish "mac and cheese".
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Tim Hall

  • Victoria is my queen
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6227 on: 14 October, 2021, 09:48:11 am »
It's possible to have ambiguity with only two items. "I like macaroni and cheese. But I don't like macaroni and cheese." Though in this example you can avoid the ambiguity by being American and calling the dish "mac and cheese".
But then you would have to be killed utterly to DETH. Even worse is "mac 'n' cheese".
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

fboab

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Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6228 on: 14 October, 2021, 11:17:52 am »
Macaroni cheese=macncheese=/=macaroni and cheese.

The 'and' in English is only used for separate items, surely?
TSS is not Total Sex Score, Chris!

Tim Hall

  • Victoria is my queen
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6229 on: 14 October, 2021, 11:30:38 am »
Macaroni cheese=macncheese=/=macaroni and cheese.

The 'and' in English is only used for separate items, surely?

Good point. But what of fish and chips?  Presumably in Scotland confusion is avoided by having a fish supper.

When I was learning Lat. at school, it turned out the Romans had "et" for "and" and "que" for "and", as a suffix, when things often went together. The Senate and People of Rome, (SPQR, Senatus Populusque Romanus, for example. My Lat. teacher gave "fish chipsque" as an example of its use.
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6230 on: 14 October, 2021, 11:35:04 am »
We could I suppose use "with" in English to avoid this. "I like fish and chips but I don't like fish with chips." But we don't actually say that.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6231 on: 14 October, 2021, 07:40:23 pm »
For me, there are three items in A, B, C or D, but four items in A, B, C and D, with or without an extra comma. Are the Americans confused between the meanings of "and" and "or" ?

I think there are several valid interpretations of "A, B, C or D":

{A} OR {B} OR {C} OR {D} : "Would you like red wine, white wine, orange juice or water?" (not an invitation to be greedy)
{A,B,C} OR {D} : "Rock, paper, scissors, or toss a coin?" (don't think I'd want to play a game of "scissors or toss a coin")
{A,B, {C OR D}} : "Lasagna, seasonal vegetables, chips or boiled potatoes" (A favourite of all pubs before they went gastro)

I would tend to assume the first unless context suggests otherwise.

With "and", there is little ambiguity as conjunction is associative: {{A AND B} AND C} is equivalent to {A AND {B AND C}}

Salvatore

  • Джон Спунър
    • Pics
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6232 on: 14 October, 2021, 09:32:51 pm »
Macaroni cheese=macncheese=/=macaroni and cheese.

The 'and' in English is only used for separate items, surely?

Hendiadys - "one through two". My latin teacher used to use 'bread and butter' as an example.

And he referred to -que as an enclitic.
Quote
et avec John, excellent lecteur de road-book, on s'en est sortis sans erreur

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6233 on: 14 October, 2021, 10:41:53 pm »
We could I suppose use "with" in English to avoid this. "I like fish and chips but I don't like fish with chips." But we don't actually say that.
Except in degree course titles, where "Midwifery with Astrophysics" means you're almost qualified to deliver a baby and looked at a telescope once, but "Midwifery and Astrophysics" means an equal split and you shouldn't be trusted with either.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6234 on: 15 October, 2021, 11:59:05 am »
To use a notation that avoids the ambiguity, it's the difference between {"A", "B", "C", "D"}  and  {"A", "B", "C and D"}

You're thinking of it like a computer programmer.

Communication between humans is more open to nuance. In real life, your cheese and biscuits example isn't ambiguous because we commonly understand cheese and biscuits as a composite menu item. You'd only read them as two separate items if you're being wilfully pedantic. Or wilfully American.

We shouldn't pay heed to Americans on punctuation rules anyway. They stupidly insist on putting all punctuation inside quote marks, even when it is syntactically not part of the quoted phrase.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6235 on: 15 October, 2021, 12:05:16 pm »
I checked up what Fowler had to say on the matter...

"The more usual way of punctuating such an enumeration as was used as an example in the preceding section is French, German, Italian and Spanish; the commas between French and German and German and Italian take the place of ands; there is no comma after Italian because, with and, it would be otiose. There are, however, some who favour putting one there, arguing that, since it may sometimes be needed to avoid ambiguity it may as well be used always for the sake of uniformity."

Uniformity is overrated. I prefer to judge each case on its merits and only add the serial comma if it is genuinely necessary.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6236 on: 15 October, 2021, 12:23:58 pm »
Talking of computer programming, last week I was editing captions for a series of videos that were to form a course for a particular software. Needless to say, I knew nothing about the programme beforehand and very little afterwards, but I did gather that it's important to distinguish between, say, Reward Account, RewardAccount and rewardAccount. One is a generic idea, one a particular database and one a method. Or something. I really, really hope someone who understands this is going to go over it before it's released on students, but somehow I doubt that's going to happen.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6237 on: 15 October, 2021, 12:27:37 pm »
Indeed, I'm minded that all grammar rules should be ignored, if the results are clear and easy to read and there's no unnecessary ambiguity, who cares where the comma should be inserted. I'll insert an Oxford comma if it aids that.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6238 on: 15 October, 2021, 01:23:21 pm »
Talking of computer programming, last week I was editing captions for a series of videos that were to form a course for a particular software. Needless to say, I knew nothing about the programme beforehand and very little afterwards, but I did gather that it's important to distinguish between, say, Reward Account, RewardAccount and rewardAccount. One is a generic idea, one a particular database and one a method. Or something. I really, really hope someone who understands this is going to go over it before it's released on students, but somehow I doubt that's going to happen.

Fairly standard problem in object-oriented programming:

Quote from: Ian Utting
And then you can have a class called Object which is an object of class Class.
<bemused looks>
I can't do uppercase and Courier font when I'm speaking. I try, but I can't get the serifs right.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6239 on: 15 October, 2021, 01:28:36 pm »
Yeahbut Ian Utting at least knows the difference!
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6240 on: 15 October, 2021, 01:35:03 pm »
Quite.  I think you're well into the realm of requiring expert knowledge to get that sort of thing right.  And in an educational context, it matters.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6241 on: 15 October, 2021, 03:39:58 pm »
The annoying thing is they knew how much it would matter, because they specifically instructed that certain phrases would be entered by students into the command line and therefore must be captioned exactly as they appear on screen but in single quotes, but they didn't think to apply that to stuff that doesn't appear on screen. I've done previous work for other elements of this same course and that has been much easier, because it was more "how to use this" rather than how to programme it.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6242 on: 15 October, 2021, 03:41:03 pm »
Anyway I was going to go back to "and". "I like lentils and parmesan but I don't like lentils and parmesan." See the Random Food thread!
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6243 on: 15 October, 2021, 03:59:04 pm »
Anyway I was going to go back to "and". "I like lentils and parmesan but I don't like lentils and parmesan." See the Random Food thread!

If you like peas and you like cheese...
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Cudzoziemiec

  • Моя планета голубая, я люблю тебя и обнимаю
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6244 on: 15 October, 2021, 04:34:54 pm »
Anyway I was going to go back to "and". "I like lentils and parmesan but I don't like lentils and parmesan." See the Random Food thread!

If you like peas and you like cheese...
I had to google that. A little before my time...
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6245 on: 15 October, 2021, 04:40:56 pm »
Why do we say "Shot dead", but "Stabbed to death" ?

Why not "Shot to death" and "Stabbed dead" ?
Rust never sleeps

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6246 on: 15 October, 2021, 05:57:12 pm »
More correctly they're both forms of being murdered to death.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

Mr Larrington

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Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6247 on: 15 October, 2021, 06:16:03 pm »
I've seen “shot to DETH” crop up occasionally but sounds Wrong/FOREIGN/both to this Unit.
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Tim Hall

  • Victoria is my queen
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6248 on: 15 October, 2021, 07:20:46 pm »
I've seen “shot to DETH” crop up occasionally but sounds Wrong/FOREIGN/both to this Unit.
Yes, it's lacking the word UTTERLY
There are two ways you can get exercise out of a bicycle: you can
"overhaul" it, or you can ride it.  (Jerome K Jerome)

cygnet

  • I'm part of the association
Re: Grammar that makes you cringe
« Reply #6249 on: 15 October, 2021, 11:01:56 pm »
Why do we say "Shot dead", but "Stabbed to death" ?

Why not "Shot to death" and "Stabbed dead" ?
Is there a technical difference (linguistic and/or legal) that's combining with "usage frequency"?

"To death" suggests multiple (and not individually fatal) wounds.  Perhaps it also includes number of assailants. A firing squad shoots someone to death, they don't shoot someone dead. Stabbing dead could be a single fatal action. Stabbed to death - be bleeding out from multiple injuries.

I think it's generally imagined (expected) that being stabbed is more survivable than being shot. Being stabbed dead is less common than being shot dead, and so the phrase is used more often.
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