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  1. #1
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories



    The web wouldn't be the web without its crackpot theories, and we have been honoured with a fair number of these, ranging from the latest artificial universal language that promises world peace and happiness before disappearing without trace to novel ways of viewing the English language, including a theory about how English would have to become a tonal language as we can only remember a tiny fraction of the number of words Chinese speakers can commit to memory, and had also declined disastrously in our memorisation powers since Shakespeare's time, though the connection to tonal languages and our historical decline was less clear.

    Click here to read the full article

  2. #2
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Personally, I love a good crackpot theory. Pedroski has honoured us with several in recent months, like the one that seeks to deny 'was' in e.g.

    I was in the garden.

    the status of a copular verb on the basis (wait for it...) that I am not a garden!!

    Utterly hilarious.

    Let's have more!!!


  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    They do brighten the day.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    They do brighten the day.
    They do indeed.

    I just worry sometimes that the ensuing debate, even when we manage to avoid personal insults, will confuse many learners. It is, after all, learners who come to 'Ask a Teacher' for help with what is often a fairly straightforward enquiry. By the time philo, pedro and a few others* have vented their spleen, the poor learner doesn't know what is going on.

    I feel that there is an argument for moderators to step in sometimes, and transfer the pedants and nutters* to a separate forum (Crackpot's Corner?) to have their fun, leaving the helpful answers in the original thread.

    *I do not include myself here, of course. My answers are always accurate, sane, objective and concise.

  5. #5
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    None of the crackpot theories posted has been deleted, but some of the theorists have been banned, not for their theories, however colourful and imaginative, but for breaking forum rules about getting abusive and fighting.
    Particularly I have always been totally against banning. This is a radical procedure which should be avoided as much as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I just worry sometimes that the ensuing debate, even when we manage to avoid personal insults, will confuse many learners. It is, after all, learners who come to 'Ask a Teacher' for help with what is often a fairly straightforward enquiry. By the time philo, pedro and a few others have vented their spleen, the poor learner doesn't know what is going on.
    I agree with you in part. It is indeed a problem we should try to find a solution.

    But I think there are many learners (specially advanced ones) who understand what is going on and do benefit by reading different disagreeing opinions. I mean, they have the opportunity to see some 'real' English, with different schools of thought, AmE, BrE, etc. - a grammarian's, teacher's or a linguist's opinion, a professional writer's opinion, a crackpot's and so on. Though it is a pity that many illustrious members should remain anonymous.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstract Idea View Post
    But I think there are many learners (specially advanced ones) who understand what is going on and do benefit by reading different disagreeing opinions. I mean, they have the opportunity to see some 'real' English, with different schools of thought, AmE, BrE, etc. - a grammarian's, teacher's or a linguist's opinion, a professional writer's opinion, a crackpot's and so on. Though it is a pity that many illustrious members should remain anonymous.
    I think you have answered your lament in the last sentence by the preceding ones. If you discovered that I am really Noam Chomsky or Randolph Quirk, for example, you might be afraid to question my authority. In many of the types of issues that lead to the disagreements, there are few absolute answers.

    That the plural of child is children not childs is a fact. and we don't need a Chomsky or Quirk to confirm it. When it comes to whether had in I wish I had a million pounds should be considered a subjunctive form in the English of 2010 is a different kettle of fish. At least one of our contributors writes as if he knows the answer for an absolute fact. Even if we were to discover that he was C or Q, it wouldn't necessarily make his opinion fact.

  7. #7
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    Utterly hilarious.

    Let's have more!!!

    I fail to find this matter funny. And, having read some of your discussions, I get to think you do too actually. They seemed quite emotional at times.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I fail to find this matter funny. And, having read some of your discussions, I get to think you do too actually. They seemed quite emotional at times.
    Your answer here, BC, reminds me of a very recent discussion about too we had on another thread. What you wrote is fine, but I had to read it twice before I got the sense: your you do too refers back to the I fail. On my first reading I expected you don't either referring back to I don't find it funny - which, of course, you hadn't actually written!

  9. #9
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Your answer here, BC, reminds me of a very recent discussion about too we had on another thread. What you wrote is fine, but I had to read it twice before I got the sense: your you do too refers back to the I fail. On my first reading I expected you don't either referring back to I don't find it funny - which, of course, you hadn't actually written!
    And guess what, I used "you don't either" at first and edited the post later!

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: [Tdol's Blog] Forum Policies- Crackpot Theories

    Quote Originally Posted by Abstract Idea View Post
    Particularly I have always been totally against banning. This is a radical procedure which should be avoided as much as possible.
    I intensely dislike censorship. However, unlike some members (I am not referring to you, Abstract Idea) I do not think we have the right to say anything we wish on this forum.

    The administrators originally built this site, I think, to help people with questions about English, not as an example of democracy.

    They have never made any claims about allowing everything. I think they have an absolute right to ban anyone they wish. If we don't like their judgements, we have the freedom to set up our own sites and write what we wish.

    I am full of admiration for their tolerance of crackpotism and even occasional abuse. Personally, I think they go too far sometimes in their desire not to restrict the freedom of others to rant away, but I accept it. I have to! If they allow me that freedom, it would be churlish of me to attempt to prevent others from abusing it.

    Incidentally, my suggestion was to sidetrack crackpots, not to ban us them.

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